October 27, 2011

Chess Helps: Demaurian Davis’ Story

Posted in Moves that Matter, Outreach Programs

Chess Helps: Demaurian Davis’ Story        


Chess affects different people in different ways. You may not realize the power of chess until you see someone engaged in a game, watching their eyes go back and forth, thinking about the endless combinations of moves. Some people play for sport and some people play for relaxation. Some may have been inspired to play the game for very emotional reasons. In this case, not only will you remember this person’s story because it touched your heart, but also because of the courage and integrity he has, even if he’s been thrown a curve ball in life.

Demaurian Davis is a young man who at first, comes off a bit shy, but then flashes a mesmerizing smile. Davis is quiet but easy to talk to, a not uncommon personality trait, but there is one difference about this 24-year-old—he’s in a wheel chair with limited use of his arms and legs. A few years ago, a tragic accident put Davis in this position for the rest of his life. Davis currently resides at Grand Manor Nursing Home where he is surrounded by an extremely supportive staff, including a social worker, Diedre Plair, who strives to give not only Davis every opportunity possible, but other residents around his age, almost all in similar situations.

Demaurian has been playing chess since the 6th grade. However, he has been playing routinely since his accident with an employee, Certified Nursing Assistant, Michael Howard. One day, Davis said to Diedre, “I want to see how good I am.” Immediately, Diedre knew she needed to do something to bring chess to Davis, and make his vision become a reality. After a few phone calls, Diedre came in contact with the World Chess Hall of Fame’s (WCHOF) and its outreach program, Moves That Matter. Since the mission of Moves That Matter is to bring chess to anyone in the health and human service field, this was a perfect opportunity. The WCHOF worked with The Chess Club & Scholastic Center of Saint Louis (CCSCSL) to create a surprise chess tournament for Demaurian.

michaeldamariandiedre-z1hDemaurian Davis, Michael Howard, and Diedre Plair

On Tuesday, August 2, 2011 Moves That Matter, CCSCSL staff, and volunteers walked in the doors of Grand Manor Nursing Home. Moves that Matter manager, Lauren Stewart, was instantly greeted with a warm hug from Diedre and endless thank you’s. Diedre said, “I am crying tears of joy today!” Once tournament set-up was complete, Diedre brought Damaurian into the dining hall. Staff and volunteers applauded Davis and he quickly figured out that this chess tournament was for him—he was excited and thankful.

The tournament consisted of three games. For every game, each person played someone different. Damaurian won his first game, then he won his second, and yes, he won his third, winning the tournament out of 15 volunteers! As it turned out, Davis was a stronger chess player than he thought. Damaurian and Diedre both went on to say that Mr. Howard was to thank. Day in and day out, Mr. Howard was helping Damaurian become a better chess player. Click here to see tournament results.

The tournament for Damaurian Davis proves that chess can bring people together in meaningful ways. Whether you’re a cancer patient or paralyzed, the board can create a bond between people. The tournament players didn’t know Damaurian, and Damaurian didn’t know them, but by the time the tournament was over, the room had a different vibe. Most chess players would say, “It’s about the competition.” Others would say, “It’s about the personal connection.”