Elderly Couple Teach Life Lessons Through Chess

RENO, NV - When people think of chess, they often associate it with strategy, tactics and logic. But the game can also be used to teach valuable life lessons, like never backing down from a challenge.

Alan and Irene Chappell have been volunteering at the Boys and Girls Club on 9th Street for roughly five years. Irene, 94, has been teaching chess to kids in classrooms all over Washoe County for well over a decade. The kids get incentives for beating her husband, the chess master, which is a feat only two have accomplished.

"It's a lesson in life. Are you willing to take a chance and work at it for the reward," says Irene.

The Chappells try to have the kids solve problems on their own during the match, which they say builds confidence. Jacob Stapp, who plays chess at the club, has taken an interest in the game and now plays all the time.

"You're slowly getting smarter every chess game you play. People don't know that, but you really are," he says.

Some of the kids have been playing chess at the club for four years or more and are now mentors to the newcomers, showing that the lessons taught by the Chappells are making an impact.

"In chess I do try to help them the best that I can, and in the real world I do help them as best as I can too. That's basically what they taught me how to do, help others," says Stapp.

The Boys and Girls Club is looking for more volunteers to help with the Foster Grandparent program. The only requirement is that you must be 55 or older and like to work with children.


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