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Veteran chess player teaches ‘patience and strategy’ with Labor Day weekend tournament

Posted at 7:20 PM, Sep 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-03 23:33:55-04

DELRAY BEACH, Fla. — "Life is like a game of chess" is a popular phrase, but for one Delray Beach man it’s a phrase he’s taught youth for two years and this weekend he’s recruiting others with a free back-to-school tournament.

Willie James McCray, 71, has been playing chess since 1973. He said it took his mind off of the issue of poor race relations in South Florida post-Civil Rights Era and helped him better understand patience and strategy.

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For the last two years, he’s provided the James’ Chess Club to area youth in Delray’s historically Black West Settlers District teaching young boys and teens how to play the game, respect their opponents and strategize for their future.

”I applied the strategy of the game to my life — it’s learning how to lose to win,” James said. “Once you learn how to lose then you can start making adjustments in your lifestyle. But until you learn how to lose you can never win. Instead, there will be either somebody else or another influence controlling you.”

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On Sept. 5 James is hosting a Labor Day weekend back-to-school tournament for both kids and adults. There will be cash prizes for first, second, and third-place finishers. No experience is necessary and anyone in the region is encouraged to attend. The tournament happens at Libby Wesley Park in Delray Beach from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.