Damon Garrett proposes marriage at HB Global!
Alexandra agreed to tie the knot after Damon’s marriage proposal in front of nearly 1700 chess players.

Damon scored a brilliancy when he proposed to Alexandra at the HB Global Chess Challenge. Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

There have been many cases where men and women players have met their mates within chess circles.  However, there are other times when chess merely provides the avenue. The best kept secret is that a chess tournament is the best place on the planet to find an eligible man. If not at a tournament, then any chess venue will do. This is exactly what happened 3½ years ago at a bakery/restaurant which doubles as a place to learn chess. This will forever be the place associated with one of the most memorable events at the HB Global Chess Challenge.

Damon Garrett, was born in Philadelphia and like many of us, became fascinated by the appeal of chess. He (and his brother) was taught chess by his father in his early teens. After his college years at East Stroudsburg University, he moved to New Jersey in 1987 to find a new life. After a long hiatus, he began studying chess seriously and won 5th place in the under-1600 section of the 1992 Philadelphia Open. Next year, he would win outright. 

Moving forward, Damon built a career as a unionized plumber, but his passion for chess resulted in the development of an organization called "Chess for Life!" Since chess has an eclectic appeal, parks, bars, coffee shops, and many restaurants across the country have allowed chess players a place to play.
Panera Bread is chess-friendly (with chess locations around the country) and allows Damon to conduct lessons.

On one memorable day (a few days before 9/11), Damon was in Panera Bread when a stunning  lady entered.  "My endorphins went crazy… my heart skipped a beat!" stated the love-struck chess maven. The consummate chess player did what any wise man would do… he made his presence felt by briefly introducing himself. However, a sinking feeling of sadness sunk in as his "dream woman" paid for her order, exited the restaurant and disappeared into the pedestrian traffic. How often do we wonder what could have occurred if we only acted??

Panera Bread

Well… about a week later (days after 9/11), something amazing happened. The dream woman came back, but this time she decided to eat at the restaurant. Damon, who is also a youth minister, was with his 13-year old son, Damon Jr. He developed a strategy and again approached her… cautiously. With divorce proceedings from his first marriage underway, he did not want to be disrespectful to his son or the woman. So what variation did he play? He made a few brief stops at her table, but during his last visit, he played a risky and speculative move (!?).

"Before I left, I mentioned how I would love to ask her for her phone number but that I was a lil' apprehensive. So she says, classically, and profoundly, 'If you're not going to ask me for mine, then can I have yours?' I was blown away. I'm like, "This gorgeous chick is asking me for my number?! Aight!!!!"  The rest was history! We laugh about that even today."

Picture taken a short time after the “big question.

Damon, a tall and stately man, would discover that the woman who entered his life the previous week was a young professional named Alexandra Volcy. Her parents had migrated from Haiti when she was eight years old. "Alex" is a district manager for famous clothier and could not have guessed what Damon had in store. Of course, she knew that chess was a big part of Damon's life, but could she have imagined that he would propose to her in front of over 1000 chess players???

Be that as it may, Damon made the arrangements with
GM Maurice Ashley and popped the question during the opening ceremonies at the HB Global Chess Challenge… ring, roses and all.  Damon and Alexandra became instant celebrities at the tournament, both beaming as they strolled the spacious tournament hall. What a handsome couple they make! The doting couple will be getting married on June 20, 2005 and will honeymoon in the Bahamas.

Congratulations to
Damon and Alexandra!!

Picture taken a short time after the "big question." Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

Posted by The Chess Drum: 13 June 2005