Chess and Mastering the Game of Life

Data News Weekly Exclusive Interview With Chess Grandmaster Pontus Carlsson

By Edwin Buggage

Business Meets Chess and Kids Empowers Brings Together New Orleans Business Leaders and Young People

Chess is a game that requires amazing skill, in addition, it teaches the mastering strategies and tactics that makes one a winner. Many of these same skills can be applied to life.

This is the goal of Chess Grandmaster Pontus Carlsson, who has created a program using chess to help underprivileged kids across the globe learn strategy and critical thinking to solve life problems.

For those who do not know, Carlsson is a world-renowned Chess Master and one of three Blacks in the world who have risen to the level of Chess Grandmaster. Maurice Ashley of the United States and Amon Simutowe from Zambia are the other two who have reached this highly regarded status in the world of chess.

Pontus is a dual citizen of Sweden and Columbia, having over 25 years of teaching chess throughout Europe and has won the Swedish Championship 12 times.

He was recently in New Orleans introducing his program Business Meets Chess, where he connects business executives and kids from underprivileged areas. He held several events in the Crescent City.

“I am launching my global program in New Orleans that I already have in Europe and Africa. The idea is basically I am setting up business guys with kids and they play in teams of two. The kids are usually from underprivileged areas it is to bring people together,” Carlsson says of his mentoring program that’s received acclaim across the globe serving young people.

What Kids Can Learn from Chess that Can Help them in Life

Early in his life Pontus began playing chess, but this was not the only thing he excelled at. Speaking of his early life and path to greatness he says, “I learned the rules of chess from my father. He taught me the rules when I was four, so then I started to play. Later I started competing and winning matches.”

As many know that the other futbol (soccer) is the most popular sport in the world with millions of fans. Carlsson, speaks of having to choose between the two, “I also use to play soccer. In Europe soccer is quite popular and I played it at one of the highest levels, but then I decided I would pursue chess.”

He says this program since its inception has helped kids acquire skills that help them beyond the chess board. “Critical thinking is something you really develop through chess. Problem solving, the math skills you get while playing chess. How you process information quickly and make decisions. The time pressure in chess is very similar to business life deadlines. When you are a chess player you understand the pressure of time and making the right moves. You develop strategies and tactics that can translate to any situation in life. It orders your thinking.”

New Orleans Business Leaders on Board to Work with Kids

Every city Carlsson launches Business Meets Chess, he incorporates local partners. Speaking of his New Orleans team he says, “There is a guy called Ken Mask, he is a business guy. He is developing the project here. I always have some local people that are helping administer the program and work with kids. Also, on board is Actor Wendell Pierce, Greg Ward one of the City’s best doctors, Kendrick Perkins, who is one of the chess coaches and many others.”

Movie to be Made About New Orleans Chess Master Paul Morphy

New Orleans has an amazing connection to chess, as the home of Paul Morphy, a New Orleans native who was considered one of the world’s greatest chess players. Excitedly Carlsson says, “I am going to see Paul Morphy’s house and street tomorrow. And then I will stroll around the city to catch some of the sites of this amazing city.”

Additionally, there is a film project in the works about his life. “There is a movie on Paul Morphy’s Life that is also connected to this program. It is produced by Ken Mask and Monty Ross, who worked with Spike Lee.

Chess, Checkmate and Conquering Life’s Challenges

Speaking of what chess can do for one’s life, “It can increase your intelligence. You can use your brain, instead of being on the streets doing bad things. It can give someone confidence and power to do something serious. It makes you smart and believe you can do something with your life.”

As I often say to many young people that ‘Your network equals your net worth’ Carlson believes chess is a great way to build your network and increase the potential of meeting people that can assist you in business and in life. Stating this is one of the main reasons he created Business Meets Chess and Kids.

“The thing about this program is that kids have the chance to meet people and build up their network that can open doors for them. It is a lot about people. I am a people’s person. I believe as long as you have good people around yourself; then you will reach happiness and success in whatever it is that you pursue. You can reach your goal and achieve whatever it is you want out of life.

For information about the program go to

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