The #6 article in Best of US Chess 2017 is The Shaman Sees Checkmate: Teaching Chess in the Amazon by Vincent Roazzi Jr. With evocative photographs and writing, Vincent chronicles his stint teaching children chess in the Peruvian jungle.
I was amazed at how quickly their pawns advanced and swapped. Many mistakes were made and I corrected diligently noticing that after each failure their mistakes lessened. Soon they were correcting each other in Spanish and their tribal tongue. “Vincente! El ganador!” they yelled when their pawns reached the other side. I extended class an extra hour and was swarmed with hugs. In my following classes I set up the school desks outside during sunset under a coconut tree. We immediately advanced to full games due to a mutual impatience. But my restaurant Spanish reached its limits. Taking a piece became “eating it” and the winner was the one who could “Eat the king!” They would point to their opponents bishop for example and say, “Quiero comer?” (Can I eat this?)” and I would say, “Yes! Eat!” “Eat the king!” I prescribed.Find more work by Vincent on his official website, http://www.vincentroazzijr.com/. The Judges Sound Off If Vincent Roazzi Jr. has aspirations to be a travel or photo journalist, I would say he is well on his way! His photographs alone are art and should be hanging on the wall of a gallery or museum. In this article, the photographs serve as the perfect complement to the descriptive, engaging and detailed account of Vincent’s trip to the Amazon. And so what if he taught the children to “eat” the King. Better to eat the King than ingest the Ayahuasca….just saying…Jennifer Vallens This was a fun article that illustrated the universal language and appeal of chess. Roazzi takes you on an adventure where chess may not be the focal point, but it’s a vessel of exploration.- Dan Schultz This unique article combines the exotic travel experiences in the Amazon jungle with teaching chess. The plot describes the challenge explaining the rules of chess to the young students, especially the definition of checkmate. At last, one of the brightest kids manages to trap the enemy king instead of eating it. Success!- Michael f-pawn Aigner