Formerly incarcerated man turns life around through chess

Formerly incarcerated man turns life around through chess

CINCINNATI (FOX19) - A man who was incarcerated when he was 14 years old for possession of a gun turned his life around three years ago to help his community through the game of chess.

Tony McClain, 33, learned life-long skills just by playing the game.

“Chess was big and instrumental in helping me have self confidence and self worth and knowing I can do anything I put my mind to,” McClain said.

McClain not only started to play it, but he created the Masterminds Chess Club three years ago to help teenagers in the Middletown area learn the same lessons he learned.

“You have to be able to think, to think creatively because you’re in a situation on the board and that’s kind of how like is, deals with you sometimes you face adversity and you push through it,” McClain said.

The chess club is a part of the Breaking the Cycle Outreach program.

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On Saturday, the club members showed off their moves during the Masterminds Scholastic Chess Tournament at Middletown High School. It is a four-round Swiss tournament for all players in grades kindergarten through twelfth grade.

One of the teenagers, who is a member, was not so sure about joining at first.

“We started playing it and me and my brother said this is an old person game," member Alex Bevins said. "We just started playing and we got into it.”

The club has already been life changing for some of the teenagers.

“It’s been helping me because I am one of those people who has a lot of anger," Bevins said. "It helps me take my anger out. Instead of taking my anger out on other people I take it out on the board.”

Bevins says his goal is to be a Grandmaster.

The Master Minds Chess Club meets every Thursday from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Robert Sonny Hill Community Center in Middletown.

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