The Prison Chess Program – Chess Life Article


THE PRISON CHESS PROGRAM sponsered by the National Chess Foundation has been actively helping jail inmates for over a decade now and has supplied them with thousands of chess sets, boards, clocks, books and magazines.

This remarkable humanitarian effort is primarily the accomplishment of one dedicated man, James R. Schroeder. Almost singlehandedly he has brought some pleasure and enjoyment into the lives of thousands of unfortunate human breings who are suffering from one of the worst of all possible afflictions, boredom – interminable, gray, hopeless boredom.

As a result of his efforts, many hundreds of prisoners have learned how to play chess. He has shown them how to organize tournaments, and they frequently play with persons from the outside world or with other inmates. On occasion, prisoners have been allowed to leave the grounds to participate in these competitions. The excitement, enthusiasm and hope that this generates is difficult to measure. Men and women who have never had an interest taken in them by their fellow man have suddenly seen and experienced the warmth of knowing that somebody else really cares for them and is sensitive to their pain and longing for companionship. And Schroeder says that this contact with the society and lives they once knew has had a beneficial effect of an unexpected sort; he maintains that the rate of recidivism among those inmates who are actively engaged in chess activities is much, much lower than average. It would seem important that we all do as much as is humanly possible to encourage programs of this sort wherever and whenever possible.

He is in urgent need of donations.

Send money, books, sets and only cardboard or plastic roll boards. Don’t buy them! I buy wholesale. Only New in Chess or SQUARES magazines. Thank you.
— James Schroeder 3011 E. 9th St. #15 Vancouver, WA 98661

this article was published in Chess Life, the publication of the United States Chess Federation. I don’t know of any other organization or person who helps prisoners. If they DID exist, I would have heard of them because I had contact with thousands of inmates in hundreds of prisons. My efforts have not been “single handed” – my parents, brothers, and sisters have donated a lot of money to my Prison Chess Program.

Because my income has never been very large, I depend on donations from other persons.

Please make copies of this article and send to editors of newspapers, chess magazines, and other places. Put copies on bulletins boards at tournaments. Ask permission first.

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