Interview with Abdul Shakoor of Urban Kings & Queens!
Pressure Makes Diamonds
By, HHCF Founder Adisa Banjoko
When HHCF player Dyhemia Young was in TX to play for her chess scholarship, she was lucky enough to find true friends in a young girl named Diamond and her father Abdul Shakoor. He helped to coach her technically and emotionally through the tournament. He and I have talked a lot since then and I wanted to share a recent interview I did with him about chess, life, fatherhood, positivity and power of always pursuing your goals. He also runs an organization called Urban Kings & Queens. They do good things for the community. Check out our conversation below.
HHCF: When did you start playing chess and who taught you?
I started playing Chess when I was 25 years old in Atlanta while working with the 1996 Olympics and the music and entertainment industry as CEO of Tillery Enterprises (promotions and marketing). I am from Brooklyn, New York and I was reared in Kent, Ohio in foster care from 12 yrs old until 18yrs old. I am self taught and learning more everyday!
HHCF: What were some of the things chess taught you about life?
Chess has taught me that for every decision and choice; there are consequences so choose wisely. The game of Chess has taught me to relax, relate, and release the problems and situtations that may occur frequently or in everyday life. Life is what you make it ! And you always have a chance to win! Never give up and stay calm.
HHCF: When did you start teaching your daughter chess and why was it important for you to do that?
I have taught Chess to over 500 students across that USA. I am a single father with a beautiful and humble 10 yr. old daughter; Diamond Shakoor. I started teaching my daughter how to play the game of chess at 7 years old. She was interested in playing and I told her to do good in school and you can play chess. Chess has been a true blessing for our family. It has brought my daughter and I closer together; and it opened the door for better communication between us, about life issues. We travel around the country and she gets to establish healthly long lasting friendships and contacts. Chess helps young people to battle "Emotional Displacement"; don't get mad get focused! Because a mad person can not think critically in tough situations.
HHCF: What would you say learning chess has done for her?
Learning chess has improved Diamond's confidence and presentation skills and it is preparing her for life and real world issues! She loves being herself and the hard work, sweat, and tears; are now tears of joy! It has been a process and not always easy! Every parent should introduce their child or children to the game of chess!
HHCF: Tell me about your time mentoring Dyhemia Young in TX at the Susan Polgar tournament and what were your impressions of Dyhemia on and off the board?
I enjoyed the opportunity to meet Dyhemia Young in Lubbock, TX at the 2011 Susan Polgar Girls Chess Invitational. When I first met Dyhemia she was listening to her music (tuning out this new chess world of course) and then I saw her in the cafeteria and asked her how to pronounce her name; because I did not want to start off by not knowing how to correctly say her name; and afterwards I introduced her to my daughter Diamond! Which was the goal in the first place was to hopefully have Dyhemia, Diamond and Vanita to meet and network; since they were the only 3 African American Females competing in a field of 46 Players. Dyhemia and Vanita were wonderful role models to my daughter-Thank You! It is hard for a man to teach his daughter everything about being a young lady; so sometimes you have to fall back and play your position. On the chess board Dyhemia has great potential if given the proper training (quality time )and tournament opportunities with her busy schedule of being a teenager.
HHCF: After the tournament, have you been in contact with her?
After the tournanment I have spoken to Dyhemia a few times and frequently by text to tell her to stay focused and keeping enjoying every moment of every day! I speak to her about life issues; the chess knowledge will come. She is playing chess everyday; when she strives to do better today than yesterday!
HHCF: Since the TX tournament whats next for you?
Next for The Shakoor Famiily (Diamond and Dad) is to enjoy the school year and attempt to secure corporate or individual sponsorship for Diamond Shakoor to attend Chess tournaments around the country and internationally. She is the chess worlds version of "Venus and Serena Williams".
HHCF: Will Diamond be competing soon?
Diamond's next major tournament is the Girls World Open in Chicago! October 7-10, 2011. And K-12 Nationals in Dallas, TX in November.
HHCF: What is your training method like for Diamond? How often do you practice with her? Are there any books or computer programs you might recommend?
My training methods for Diamond are simple; rest, good foods, practice problems and tactics, playing in a lot of tournaments!, taking notes from other parents and changing the formula to what works best for Diamond! She plays a lot of adults! And I tell her "You play the board not the opponent!" Diamond practices a little every day at least 30 minutes or she takes on all comers after beating up on Dad! Computers and programs are wonderful aids if you can afford them; otherwise hard work still pays off!
HHCF: Tell me about Urban Kings and Queens? What is your core philosophy?
Urban Kings and Queens Chess Academy - "Although you are in an Urban environment or regardless of your environment always know that you are all Kings and Queens and conduct yourself as such at all times!" The Academy is my pathway to help the youth with life skills and share some of the blessings with other young people to make it through life with the proper tools to succeed!!!
HHCF: Any last thoughts?
Enjoying Life, glad to have finally met HHCF! Looking forward to seeing all youth reach their goals and achieve their dreams!
If you'd like to support or contact Diamond Shakoor or Urban Chess contact:
Diamond Shakoor Chess Fund
3081 E. 11th Ave
Columbus, Ohio 43219
614 309-5021 email: firstname.lastname@example.org