DC's Moten  Center to vie for Scholastic Titles!

DC's Vaughn Bennett has been making quite a name for himself  on the coaching scene. Recently, the Washington Post (29 April 2003) did a piece on the Moten Center, a school for 100 "emotionally disturbed" children. The irony is that children who have trouble with the basics of math are beating the odds and excelling in chess under the guidance of Bennett.  The article states,

"Children who are years behind in math master chess notation in a few weeks. "Qxh7+," coach Vaughn Bennett writes on the board. Instantly, students shout out the next move."

"Children who've been diagnosed with attention-deficit and bipolar disorders pick up chess here in days. Within a few months, they are competing against kids from regular schools -- and winning.."

Student playing chess at the Moten Center in Washington, DC.

The Moten Center has seen a marked improvement in its students since  the chess program was implemented three years ago.

This weekend, Moten hopes to attend the National Elementary Championships in Nashville,  Tennessee. However, the school is $2,000 short of the $7800 needed funds to cover the expenses. Principal Herbert Boyd Jr., teacher Patricia Sanker and other staff members have kicked in cash. Staffers also contribute weekends, shuttling kids to matches.

What does this say about the educational system's lack of support for chess when there are obvious benefits? Furthermore, what does it say about such school relegating children (98.7% of whom are Black) in these special programs?

"You know these children have the most extreme attention-deficit disorders, and then you walk in here and see the concentration," Boyd says. "They stay at it for hours -- it makes you think about those diagnoses. Their behavior has interrupted their learning, but obviously they have great capacity to learn."

Let's hope that the Moten Center will see a way to send the team to Nationals in what could be a defining point in their lives. For more information about the Moten School, call Mr. Bennett (202) 227-0102, fax (202) 397-4439 or e-mail


Mark Fischer, "Freed by Chess, Cornered by D.C. Priorities," Washington Post, 29 April 2003.

"School Uses Chess to Help Students," nbc4.com (EDUCATION), 1 May 2003.

The Chess Drum, "DC's Bennett continues to make good moves," 28 February 2003.

The Chess Drum, "Howard University on the Chess Map!" 23 December 2003.

Posted by The Chess Drum: 7 May 2003