Seattle police officer using chess to teach kids about life

By Lee Stoll Published: May 31, 2015 at 1:53 PM PDT

SEATTLE — Sports can be an good way to teach kids life lessons, and those lessons don’t need to be on the football field or soccer pitch. A popular local program is using chess to teach children valuable moves in the game of life.

With a sweet smile, Seattle police officer Denise Bouldin — known as detective Cookie — helps keep kids focused on kings and queens. Last week, 180 fifth graders competed in Bouldin’s youth chess club tournament for bragging rights and a trophy taller than most competitors.

“You get to play other people and you don’t know their strategies and it’s a little challenging, so it’s exciting and fun,” one player said.

But the game is meant to help kids in the South Rainier Valley battle challenges that are not so black and white. The community has seen murders, gang violence and drugs. One of the things chess teaches the kids is that every choice has a consequence.

“(In chess) you can lose your king. In real life, you can lose your life,” Bouldin said.

Bouldin started the program with grant money and about 16 players. But it didn’t take long before kids were lining up to play.

“I had to put chess boards on the ground on the floor for them to play,” she said. “It was such a success.”

The program is open to kids 7-year-old and up at the Rainier Beach Library.

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