Slow down. Think. Shake hands. How chess teaches Chicago kids life’s lessons.

“You’ve got to play with what you’ve got.”

Those words are applicable to everything in life, but Candice Usher, a fifth-grade teacher at Fuller School of Excellence on Chicago’s South Side, was offering this counsel to Charleston Rice the other afternoon as it applied to chess.

“Charleston!” she said.

She’d already chided him for a couple of exuberantly illegal moves.

“Think! Think before you touch a piece. You’re down to the wire.”

Charleston, who is 9, stopped fidgeting and stared at the board on the table in front of him, as his opponent, sensing defeat, propped her chin on her fist. He reflected in silence. His opponent covered her face with her hands.

Finally, Charleston pounced, made his victory move and popped out of his chair like a triumphant king.

“Shake hands,” Usher said, and Charleston reached across the table to shake the friendly hand of Ny’lah Seawood, who’s 10. They set up the board for the next game.

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