Using Chess to Fight the Coronavirus
The Covid-19 crisis has brought the world to its knees, but it has also brought out the best in some. People old and young from all walks of life are doing what they can to help those who are fighting the pandemic and those affected by it. Some are supporting frontline healthcare workers by collecting and donating PPE, some are involved with food drives to feed the hungry, and others are raising funds to support these initiatives and others like it. So many people are doing their part by using their unique talents and the resources available to them to help humanity get through the biggest health crisis the world has seen this century. One of the inspirational people using the tools at their disposal to make a difference is James Poetzscher, a high school student with a love for chess and a compassionate heart.
The Humble Beginnings of Checkmate COVID
As lockdowns were implemented in countries around the world, schools and companies temporarily shut their doors, leaving people confined at home with a lot of time to pursue projects. James Poetzscher and two of his friends, Jack Jacobsen and Felix Kaye, spent a lot of this free time playing chess. Poetzscher and the two other intrepid teens decided to use their passion for the game to raise funds for Covid-19 relief efforts. They held an online chess tournament with 32 participants and gave the winner $100 of their own money to donate to a Covid-19 charity. This modest beginning turned out to be a huge success and led to further tournaments, eventually bringing in sponsorships from organizations like San Francisco University High School, Cathedral School for Boys, Solid Gold, Sabbatical Ventures, and Branson.
A Growing Initiative
Players from all over are now taking part in the online chess tournaments organized by James Poetzscher and the Checkmate COVID team. Links to tournament results are published on the organization’s website, and the winner of each tournament gets to choose to which Covid-19 charity the prize money is donated.
Charities approved by Checkmate COVID include:
- Feeding America
- COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund for WHO
- CDC Foundation
- Raphael House
- Doctors Without Borders
- Second Harvest of Silicon Valley
- HandsOn Bay Area
- Project Hope
James Poetzscher – Social Activism in Other Fields
Fast becoming known as a formidable young philanthropist, James Poetzscher is not only focusing his attention on using chess to fight the pandemic. He is also the force behind Greenhouse Maps, a website he created to track atmospheric gases using satellites. Having developed an interest in greenhouse emissions and satellite tracking at a young age, Poetzscher realized that there was very little information about this available online. After extensively researching the issue, he constructed a website that would provide quality tracking data. Since then, Poetzscher has been mapping global air pollution with the European Environmental Bureau and has published several papers on the topic.