Last fall, the Puyallup community gathered to remember United States Army Staff Sergeant Bryan Black who was killed in Niger along with three other members of his Special Forces team. On July 5th, the community will once again come together to honor Black’s memory with the installation of two permanent chess tables in Pioneer Park.
A Puyallup High School graduate, Black spent much time during his school years competing in chess tournaments. Black was a determined and formidable player who won many awards and twice tied for second in the nation. He brought the state championship home to Puyallup in 1999 and won the Washington Junior Open the following year.
The chess tables will be formally dedicated on Thursday, July 5th at 6:00 p.m. in Pioneer Park, preceding a concert by the 562nd Air Force Band. The public is invited to attend the ceremony, which will feature remarks by United States Congressman Denny Heck. Following the dedication, the tables will be available for play. Additional temporary tables will also be set up for the evening; all who play a game will earn a raffle ticket for the chance to win one of several special prizes, including two chess sets signed by current World Champion Magnus Carlsen.
The fundraising effort for the chess tables was coordinated by Puyallup Parks Foundation Board President Therese Pasquier. “Puyallup Deputy Mayor Tom Swanson called me in late 2017 asking if the Puyallup Parks Foundation would help raise funds for a very special project that he was spearheading," explained Pasquier. "Deputy Mayor Swanson - a veteran himself - wanted to create a lasting legacy for Staff Sergeant Bryan Black, a hometown chess champion who valiantly died in October 2017 while serving our country in Niger."
“This memorial wouldn't have happened without the generous support of the community as well as matching funds from Erik Anderson of America's Foundation for Chess and Lloyd Hamilton. We are truly honored and humbled to help pay tribute to such a special man in this meaningful way.”
Over $15,000 was raised, enough to purchase two double-concrete tables with built-in metal benches.
“Our hope is these tables will honor Bryan’s legacy, and provide a permanent place for children, families and all people to come together and enjoy a game they love, and that he loved,” said Erik Anderson, founder of First Move: America’s Foundation for Chess. First Move has helped introduce the game of chess to more than one million children across the country since its inception in 2000.
Anderson created First Move to promote the many lifelong benefits that are realized by playing chess. “Chess teaches kids focus as well as analytical, creative and critical thinking skills that help them succeed in life,” he said.
The Puyallup Parks Foundation is a non-profit organization created in 2014 to advocate for and raise funds to develop parks and recreational facilities in the greater Puyallup community.
Erik Anderson is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Kirkland-based WestRiver Group (WRG) and the Chairman of Singularity University, a global community which employs exponential technologies to tackle the world’s biggest challenges. He is also the Executive Chairman of Topgolf Entertainment Group, a global sports entertainment company.