Chicago, Chess, Girl Power and McDonald’s

The benefits of scholastic chess are well-known and there have been many empirical studies showing its value. In addition, chess helps to develop important social skills and self-confidence. Shakira Luster, Trechelle Williams and Imani Hill have been in the media spotlight for the past two years after winning the 8th grade section at the 2019 All-Grade Championships.

Shakira Luster, Trechelle Williams, and Imani Hill hoisting their trophies at the 2019 All-Grade Championships. Photo courtesy of Wendell Hutson

Shakira Luster, Trechelle Williams, and Imani Hill
hoisting their trophies at the 2019 All-Grade Championships
Photo courtesy of Wendell Hutson

McDonald’s has been a big part of their teen social life, but not as you would think. Over the past few decades, the marriage of McDonald’s and chess has become more common in stores across the country. In an article by the Chicago Citizen, they talked about their beginnings and the frequent trips to McDonald’s on 95th and Halsted. Three girls from Chicago’s southside have been showing exactly how chess has benefited them. Their story is told in a recent McDonald’s commercial.

Much of the encouragement came from Eric Luster, Shakira’s father and mentor/coach at the St. Ethelreda (8734 S. Paulina). The three are using chess as a platform to chart a path for academic success as others have done before them. They have kept the momentum since entering Marist High School (4200 W. 115th St.) and in February competed in the Illinois High School Association state tournament.

Shakira Luster, Trechelle Williams, Imani Hill from St. Ethelreda School

Shakira Luster, Eric Luster, Trechelle Williams, Imani Hill
with Triple Exclam!!!

More recently, they were featured in a McDonald’s ad showing how the experience helped to shape their passion in chess. For many years, the 95th and Halsted location has been the defacto chess spot on the southside of Chicago attracting as many as 30 players.

Not only does this provide security and increase business, but also creates a nurturing environment for young players. Long-time chess veteran Thomas Murphy can be seen giving his sage wisdom to the girls. This is a very positive segment and one that the girls will surely add to their college applications.

Video courtesy of the McDonald’s Corporation

Daaim Shabazz

Daaim Shabazz is the founder of The Chess Drum, while serving as a tenured faculty member of Global Business & Marketing at Florida A&M University in Tallahassee, Florida, USA. He holds a B.S. Computer Science from Chicago State University, an MBA in Marketing and a Ph.D. in International Affairs & Development, both from Clark Atlanta University. He has served the journalist community for more than 30 years and still competes in tournaments occasionally.


  1. Thank you so much for this inspiring piece, I’m a woman of colour, an amateur chess player and it’s so fantastic to see young African American women being promoted in this way. Keep up the good work, Dr Shabazz.

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