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SHump
29-03-2011, 11:01 AM
I spent an interesting few hours at a prison on Sunday. No, I have not been bad, not even naughty. But the inmates do spend a lot of time playing chess, and so I was looking at how feasible it was to support that need. Being a community volunteer in a prison is an interesting experience. Sure, there are police checks, and photo id to show each time, but the whole process is fairly easy to use and is not onerous. Your personal safety is always an issue anywhere you go, but it cannot be any worse in a prison, the way I can see it working.

I am thinking of holding a session on a regular basis, for say 3 hours, one unit per visit. A unit consists of say 40-60 prisoners. The whole prison may hold 1000 prisoners. Sure, not all units or all prisoners will be interested in chess. But what I can do is not limited - teach chess, just play some chess, hold a simul or an event amongst the prisoners - and would be in response to their needs. If it gets organised enough, it could be inter-unit competitions - the winner to hold the conquest cup!

If anyone has any suggestions, or has had experience before or whatever, please get in touch.

Note that in NZ, volunteers do receive a $150 (3 x $50) petrol voucher following 6 prison visits a year.

I had this under Hamilton club news, but it may get lost there...

Garrett
29-03-2011, 11:26 AM
good idea.

I can remember as a youngster playing chess and cricket matches against Etna Creek prison near Rocky.

I never felt in any danger either.

Ian Murray probably organised the chess.

cheers Garrett.

antichrist
29-03-2011, 11:42 AM
You will find somewhere Denis Jessop also played in Victorian prisons years ago but he refused to say if he was the last person to play Ronald Ryan.

We had one decent player who came out of prison to enter comps etc and did very well. I used to play against a warder, he was a toughie to the prisoners but I tamed him.

Denis_Jessop
29-03-2011, 12:21 PM
You will find somewhere Denis Jessop also played in Victorian prisons years ago but he refused to say if he was the last person to play Ronald Ryan.

We had one decent player who came out of prison to enter comps etc and did very well. I used to play against a warder, he was a toughie to the prisoners but I tamed him.

You are right (mostly). In the 1960s in Melbourne I played for one of the St Kilda CC's inter-club teams (C reserve grade on this occasion as it was my first year). Other teams in the grade included Pentridge Gaol and the Blind Institute. The Pentridge team always played at home :) (it was a home and away comp). The members were trusted first offenders, as I recall. Pentridge also had a team in the Melbourne debating competition as I remember its exploits being reported in the "Age"at the time.

DJ

MichaelBaron
29-03-2011, 12:21 PM
I think Paul Doza was Australia's top chess player behind bars. Internationally, likes of Max Dlugy (US gm and former World Junior Champion) have also had their ''moments of glory'' in prison. In fact Alekhine was detained and spent some time in a prison in Odessa in 1919.

ER
29-03-2011, 12:59 PM
I think Paul Doza was Australia's top chess player behind bars. Internationally, likes of Max Dlugy (US gm and former World Junior Champion) have also had their ''moments of glory'' in prison. In fact Alekhine was detained and spent some time in a prison in Odessa in 1919.

Michael, I didn't know about Dlugy, and I assume Dr Alekhine's "crime" must have been his aristocratic background unless he had already began his (deplorable if true) alleged antisemitic propaganda during that period when Leon Trotsky was Minister of War!
Was Boris Gulko in prison too, or was it only house arrest?

antichrist
29-03-2011, 01:41 PM
Decades ago when I was part-leading a anti-nuke protest and we were going to do something or another with all the cops everywhere. I went back to get my chess set shoved down my chest in case I was arrested and ended up in the clink (they arrested you for passing wind in those days). Well they did the invasion and subsequent arrests before I returned so I was left alone with my magnetic chess set. A mate who was already a bit batty went further so after being detained in Long Bay overnight and took up prisoners rights as well.

And I wasn't too wrong about that nuke stuff was I?

antichrist
29-03-2011, 01:43 PM
I think Paul Doza was Australia's top chess player behind bars. Internationally, likes of Max Dlugy (US gm and former World Junior Champion) have also had their ''moments of glory'' in prison. In fact Alekhine was detained and spent some time in a prison in Odessa in 1919.

I know a chess guy who shared flat and cell with Paul, and he enlightened me how in the old days pre-computer with the old bank passbook, Paul put such book in to his home typewriter and added a few noughts on to balance, and got paid out accordingly. Like castling narration i suppose.

Rincewind
29-03-2011, 03:06 PM
Claude Bloodgood is perhaps the best known example of a chess player inmate.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Claude_Bloodgood

http://www.chessgames.com/perl/chessplayer?pid=72632

ER
29-03-2011, 05:04 PM
Our very own Mark Brandon (Chopper) Read plays chess and refers to the game and other prisoners who play (or having played) it in prison in almost all his books and public speeches.

http://www.theage.com.au/news/national/chopper-cops-a-fine-but-delivers-the-verdict/2007/05/01/1177788141437.html

In the above, Chopper makes an uncanningly accurate prediction re fate of Carl Williams as well as once again referring to Chess. (*)

In one of his books, I think it was From The Inside (or was it Hits And Memories) Mark gives a complete account of the Chess abilities of a notorious fellow inmate who was put to rest by another.

(*) If you think The Face (Chopper's mate and bodyquard (**)) pictured above is a kind of person you wouldn't like to meet in a dark alley around midnight, just go visit some inmates in Jaka Jaka!
(**) Actualy Tony's picture above flatters him, since (due to the sunnies) it hasn't captured his (in)famous stare!

Kevin Bonham
29-03-2011, 10:18 PM
The late Glen Gibbs organised some chess visits to the previous version of Risdon Prison in Hobart around about 1990. These were very successful but security was difficult to arrange and after a few visits we had to stop as it was no longer practical.

At the time of our visit there were 4-5 players there who would have been lower-end club strength. The strongest opponent I played there was one Maurice Huish, who was probably about 1500 strength in today's terms. I narrowly beat him in a game which was about 60-70 moves long (rook ending).

Huish's was a locally famous and sad case. A women he had briefly been involved with had moved on and become engaged to someone else, but Huish, who was 21 at the time, was still obsessed with her. So he dressed up as a woman to convince her fiance to let Huish into his house, and then killed him. The case was covered nationwide on Sixty Minutes in 1986 as part of a beat-up about the supposed impact of role-playing games and societies, which Huish was heavily involved with and which the defence attempted (unsuccessfully) to pin some of the blame for the murder on. Huish was very intelligent but people who knew him said that at times in conversations he would just appear to be "not there". He was widely reported as being a model prisoner but died in prison (apparent suicide, one of many around that time at that prison) a few years after I played him.

Now and then there has been some discussion about possible new visits to the prison but it has not yet come to anything.

Basil
29-03-2011, 11:59 PM
Kevin, IIRC correctly, Fox and James have a prisioners' team (or at least 'The Bad', on which a number of boards are prisioners). Is your copy handy?

Kevin Bonham
30-03-2011, 12:22 AM
Kevin, IIRC correctly, Fox and James have a prisioners' team (or at least 'The Bad', on which a number of boards are prisioners). Is your copy handy?

Yep, the team are called the Sinners.

No clear board order is given but the following are named:

* Captain - Harold Davidson, defrocked vicar who became a circus geek and was eventually killed by a lion. Ex President Oxford Chess Club

* Aleister Crowley, occultist (accused of all manner of things not all of them true). Strong Cambridge college player.

* John Mansfield, pornographer of apparently questionable legality

* "the ringleader of the unspeakable Chelsea Headhunters, a gang of soccer hooligans" (not named) (my emphasis)

* IM and conman Norman Tweed Whitaker. (There is a book about him called "Shady Side".)

* Lee Harvey Oswald

* IM and axe-murderer Raymond Weinstein

* Bloodgood of course

* Patrick Magee, Brighton bomber

* William Herbert Wallace, alleged wife-killer (acquitted)

* John Christie, mass murderer

* Walter Sickert, Jack the Ripper suspect

* HR Haldeman (Watergate)

* John McVicar, gang boss

* John Stonehouse, ex-MP and suicide-faker

Oepty
30-03-2011, 02:12 AM
Gary Kasparov was arrested and spent 5 days in prison for resisting arrest in 2007
Bobby Fischer spent 9 months in detention in Japan.
And this link has some relevant information as well, it appears there a number of chess players in jail for mudering their opponent.
http://www.chessville.com/BillWall/ChessViolenceandCrime.htm
Scott

Oepty
30-03-2011, 02:18 AM
Another story about chess in prison
http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2008/11/princeton_students_state_priso.html

Denis_Jessop
30-03-2011, 11:49 AM
On pp269-270 of TEMCCA Fox and James list some gaoled GMs including Ludek Pachman (for supporting Dubcek) William Winter (an IM) for sedition in 1921, Matulovic (after a woman was killed in a car crash) who said his sentence of 9 months was too long because "she was only a Bosnian" to which F&J suggest he should have said j'adoube first and Deschappelles for his part in an insurrection in 1832.

DJ

Craig_Hall
30-03-2011, 12:28 PM
Mark Guy, former President of Canterbury CC (here in NZ) is (or was, not sure if he still is) a prison officer, and he used to teach inmates how to play, provide coaching etc.

Desmond
30-03-2011, 01:11 PM
* Captain - Harold Davidson, defrocked vicar who became a circus geek and was eventually killed by a lion. Ex President Oxford Chess Club
What a bloody legend!

ElevatorEscapee
24-04-2011, 11:24 AM
Hi SHump, I actually taught chess in a prison a few years ago - here are some of my observations:

As someone who is going into the prison to help them learn or just have fun playing chess, you will be viewed more kindly by the prisoners than other "do gooders", such as social workers, religious preachers, etc.

One of the greatest challenges facing the prisoners is boredom - they are locked away with very little to actually do, so chess is a great way to help them pass their time. (You may find they start gambling over the results of their games to make it even more interesting).

The prison most likely has a library, you can help out the prisoners by donating some old chess books. Make sure you remove any personal contact details if you have written inside the front cover, (you may not want unexpected visitors knocking on your door!) - but by all means, feel free to include the contact details for your local club.

Finally, it can be very rewarding some time down the track to see the names of some of your former students cropping up in lists of chess tournaments or clubs. Not all of them will break out of the crime/prison cycle, but it's nice to feel you have had a small part in helping those who can. :)

WhiteElephant
24-04-2011, 11:34 AM
Interesting thread....and great post EE, I imagine that would have been a very rewarding experience.

SHump
26-04-2011, 09:47 AM
Thanks EE for the tips. We are still awaiting the red tape to clear before we can start. I can give more feedback once we start.