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Chess Behind Bars (hardcover) by Carl Portman


Chess Behind Bars (hardcover) by Carl Portman

At a time when prisons are in the news due to increasing violence, drug taking and low morale, it has never been more important to focus on education and rehabilitation.

Chess makes a difference because it is a fantastic metaphor for life. We must think before making our move, and accept that our decisions have consequences. It also teaches us to learn from our mistakes and to develop a more disciplined approach to problem solving. Perhaps most importantly of all, it is a constructive use of time and helps to forge friendships.

Chess Behind Bars offers a guide to chess in prisons that will instruct and entertain regardless of your situation. It covers almost every aspect of chess imaginable – from the rules to chess history, from puzzles to famous games, and even some tips for improvement. It is a smorgasbord of chess, seen from an unusual angle.

Chess can and does change lives, and Carl Portman believes that everyone should have the opportunity to learn the game. After all, the prison community knows that there is a dream behind every door.

Carl Portman is the English Chess Federation’s Manager of Chess in Prisons. In 2015 he was awarded the ECF President’s award for services to chess.

ISBN: 978-1-78483-032-8 - 312 pages - Published 2 August 2017


"Carl Portman is convinced that chess can play an important role in prisoner rehabilitation... His arguments have convinced no less a personality than England’s most famous chess grandmaster, Nigel Short, who has penned an elegant introduction."

GM Raymond Keene, The Times

"Portman understands [...] that behind so much criminality is a complete failure to think before acting, or to take responsibility for decisions. What better way to change those people’s mindsets than by introducing them to a pursuit that demands you consider everything carefully before moving — and to take sole responsibility for your mistakes?

Portman [...] has enlightened the society of criminals with the best of humanity."

Dominic Lawson, Daily Mail (full review)

“To me, Chess Behind Bars is saying every time a prisoner pushes a pawn they are doing much more than playing a chess game. They are taking part in a rehearsal for life.”

John Healy, author of The Grass Arena


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