Tyrone Davis gives Gift of Chess to Nigeria

National Master Tyrone Davis III graduated last month from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) with a degree in computer science. He told The Chess Drum that he’ll be joining Saba Capital as an investment analyst in NYC.

National Master Tyrone Davis III playing Benjamin, a boy whom he is sponsoring. Tunde Onakoya (left) looks on with other kids from the Makoko community in Nigeria. Photo by Gift of Chess.

Davis is originally from the Bronx and many may not have heard of him, but most certainly will start to. During his high school years, he was in the top 100 of his age group and would later earn his National Master’s title in 2016. He is not related to the legendary singer of the same name.

More recently, Davis was featured in the July 2022 issue of Chess Life which detailed his trip to Lagos, Nigeria. He was traveling on behalf of the “Gift of Chess” organization and was carrying 500 chess sets to support Tunde Onakoye and his “Chess in Slums” Initiative. This was mentioned recently on the Tony Ballard story. This was a memorable experience for Davis who visited Africa for the very first time.

Davis grew up in the Bronx, where he practiced chess in Union Square and other parks around New York City. Being able to sit down and look at a board for six hours at a time at a young age, Davis says, improved his ability to concentrate. The Chess Drum ran a story “Former African-American standouts reaps the benefits of chess.” It profiled six players showing how chess had served been a platform for outstanding academic performance. Davis continues the line of successful scholastic players who used chess to get into a competitive school.

“Depending on when in your life you find the game, it could definitely impact you in different ways,” Davis says. “It definitely helped me be able to sit down for hours and apply my brain to certain long tasks that require a lot of attention span.”

MIT chess club was featured in a campus news story after the hype of the “Queen’s Gambit” miniseries. As the club’s president Davis gave a few words. “Depending on when in your life you find the game, it could definitely impact you in different ways. It definitely helped me be able to sit down for hours and apply my brain to certain long tasks that require a lot of attention span.”

Introduced by Russell Makofsky, he talks further about the benefits chess has had on his academic success including excelling on the SATs and getting into one of the best universities in the country. Getting into MIT is no small accomplishment.


Video by Russ Makofsky/Impact Coaching Network

While it was not the purpose of the initiative, one of the most important aspects of the trip was the Pan-African connection created. Bridging the transcontinental gap is very important if chess is to touch places that may not have the resources to afford a chess set. It is likely that such interactions become more frequent. More importantly, transcontinental travel and collaborating on projects on the ground are the most impactful to engage in chess outreach.

Lastly, the following feature on PIX11 News gives a more poignant view of the trip and the program’s purpose. Very inspiring.


Video by PIX11 News-New York

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