A man sentenced to ten years in prison for robbing two men for $110 and their driver's licenses in 1999 spent a good portion of his time playing chess and developing a new puzzle-based game that uses the classic board game to teach children how to make good choices in life. Nkosi Brown said that he spent much of his time in prison playing chess to avoid fighting with guards and other inmates and during his time in solitary confinement he would play chess with other isolated inmates by yelling out moves and using a chess board scrawled onto the floor.
Two years before being released, Brown sent his mother detailed blueprints for what is now a puzzle chess game called Chess King. Soon after getting out of prison Brown formed Cleverhouse Games and Toys LLC, with his wife. Now they have the game on Apple's App Store. Chess King is described as a strategy game that requires players to quickly move chess pieces across a nine-square grid in a simplified version of the classic board game. Players can also get out of game-ending scenarios and continue the puzzle. Brown says that Chess King is an acronym for "Challenges Help Empower Strategy; Seeking Knowledge Inspires New Growth."
"I'm trying to spark the idea into anyone else who comes from my circumstances that they can do anything they put their mind to," Brown said. "If you disguise learning with fun, a child will return for more."
Cleverhouse education advisor and math teacher Mike Weidner says Chess King is a metaphor for thinking hard about life choices.
"You can think about different strategies, look ahead and plan out your moves," he said. "That's a whole metaphor for making choices in life."
Cleverhouse currently has 11 part-time employees, including himself, his wife and his father.
You can find out more about Chess King here.