Organizations: Be Someone

Because every move counts, the game of chess demands patience, self-confidence and careful forethought about potential outcomes.

“It’s a perfect metaphor for the strategies that are necessary for reaching other goals and succeeding in other disciplines,” says Orrin “Checkmate” Hudson, a two-time World Open speed chess champion and founder of Be Someone, a Stone Mountain-based organization that helps at-risk students develop analytical skills. In fact, Hudson adds, “Chess saved my life.”

He was a troubled teen growing up in the foster care system and drifting into petty crime when a teacher recognized his aptitude and taught him the 1,500-year-old board game. Hudson raised his grades, was voted “Most Likely to Succeed” and proceeded to do just that, in the military, law enforcement and business.

In 2000 a news story about a robbery in which seven employees were shot, execution-style, for $2,000 in the cash register moved him to found Be Someone. Hudson developed a high-energy, short-duration teaching methodology to appeal to K-12 audiences and began hauling his black-and-white pieces and checkered boards to schools, community centers and churches all over the country. 

“I’m trying to teach kids to think it out, not shoot it out,” says Hudson, who has worked with more than 45,000 youth, with the goal of reaching at least one million. “One child at a time, one move at a time,” he says. “In chess, one wrong move can cost you the game, just as pulling out a gun just once can cost a life. Actions have consequences.”

Be Someone also offers private coaching sessions and workshops for parents and teachers, along with a summer chess camp that fills up fast.

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