Chess Wizards

Finding activities to keep the younger ones entertained safely has become challenging due to the pandemic, which is why the Redlands Recreation Department teamed up with the Chess Wizards Enrichment, a national organization headquartered in Chicago.

The Redlands City Council approved a one-year agreement to bring the Chess Wizards to the city of Redlands — virtually, until it is safe to reopen facilities. The city will receive 30% of all fees collected, anticipating a $4,000 annual revenue.

The program offers chess lessons and tournaments over Zoom for children whose skills can range from novice to intermediate.

Dave Jaffe, Redlands’ recreation coordinator, said the classes may start as soon as March or April as details become finalized in the upcoming weeks.

Founded in 2002, the Chess Wizards is an after-school program found across the U.S. and Canada.

Rob Brose, managing partner at Chess Wizards, said his team focuses on the fun and inquisitive nature of chess.

“Competitiveness is built in the game of chess,” Brose said. “There is a clear winner and loser, so we are not emphasizing the competition here. We work on developing skills like sportsmanship and teamwork.”

There are typically six students per one instructor. Classes are usually an hour long. Brose said chess is one of the few games children can compete with adults with on an even playing field.

“If a child plays basketball with their parents and wins, they might know their parents went easy on them,” Brose said. “Chess is different. If they know how to play the game, they can actually win. It is a huge confidence booster.”

Not only can it boost their self-esteem, it can also improve their decision making skills, Brose said.

“There is a reason why chess has been used as a teaching tool for centuries,” Brose said. “With each move in chess, the player has to consider the consequences of their actions.”

The fascination of chess recently regained momentum when “The Queen’s Gambit” was released on Netflix, which follows the life of an orphaned chess prodigy.

Released in October 2020, the show quickly became Netflix’s most-watched miniseries after four weeks.

Brose, who has been with the Chess Wizards since 2006, said many people are asking if he has seen the show.

“The show is next on my list after I finish watching ‘The Sopranos’ with my wife,” Brose said.

“I can’t wait to watch it.”

Redlands Chess Wizards sessions

Kinder Wizards: 4 to 5 p.m. Mondays, April 5 through May 24.

Proud Pawns: 4 to 5 p.m. Tuesdays, April 6 through May 25.

Nifty Nifty Knights: 4 to 5 p.m. Wednesdays, April 7 through May 26.

Brilliant Bishops: 4 to 5 p.m. Thursdays, April 9 through May 28.

Cost: Eight sessions will cost $150 per student.

Registration: Will be added to the cityofredlands.org/programs-classes website within the next week. Families can call (909) 798-7572 to register in the meantime.