Chess Event at San Quentin Signals New Era of Engagement and Culture

Chess Mates for Change: Incarcerated People and Officers Unite in Groundbreaking San Quentin Event
BAY AREA, Calif. - Jan. 21, 2024 - PRLog -- San Quentin, California - San Quentin SkunkWorks, together with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) and the Mechanics Institute Chess Club, is excited to host Pawns to Progress, a unique chess event scheduled for Tuesday, March 5th, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. PST at the San Quentin Rehabilitation Center. This event embodies the evolving spirit of engagement and cultural change within the historic prison.

San Quentin SkunkWorks is an innovation lab powered by incarcerated people that researches, crafts, and builds transformative criminal justice programs. This event, part of SkunkWorks' transformative gaming initiative, seeks to transform prison culture and improve rehabilitative outcomes by using the power of gameplay to transcend traditional barriers.

"At its core, Pawns to Progress is more than an event. It's an avenue where incarcerated people, corrections officers, and members of the broader community collaborate," said Kyle Winchell, a co-founder of SkunkWorks, formerly incarcerated at San Quentin. Unlike traditional chess tournaments, the event features an innovative format where prison staff and community members are paired with an incarcerated person to form a team. Each team then competes against similar pairs. This setup, informed by SkunkWorks' groundbreaking research on the effects of games in carceral settings, is designed to break down barriers, promote mutual respect, and encourage a spirit of camaraderie in a competitive yet friendly environment.

A highlight of the event will be small circle discussions. These discussions are structured to facilitate an open dialogue between players. This platform for shared experience is just one example of how the event will foster understanding and connection between the correctional community and incarcerated people.

The event will also showcase opportunities for attendees to interact with community members and share their thoughts on the transformative power of such initiatives. In line with SkunkWorks' commitment to transformative criminal justice programs, this event is not just about breaking down barriers; it's a symbol of the capacities of incarcerated people. The SkunkWorks Impact Team, composed entirely of system-impacted people, is at the forefront of developing initiatives like this to change prison culture and empower incarcerated people.

"Seeing people from different walks of life come together over a chessboard is a powerful reminder of the common ground we all share. It's more than just a game; it's a step towards a more inclusive and rehabilitative community," said organizer Demetrius Mitchell, expressing enthusiasm for the potential impact of Pawns to Progress.

For more information and to engage with this initiative, visit

[Note: The section referring to Paul Whitehead conducting a simultaneous display has been removed due to inaccuracies. We apologize for any confusion.]

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