Ian Hamilton crowned chess king,
dethrones Demetrius Mitchel
Ian Hamilton dethroned last year’s chess king, Demetrius Mitchell, and became the new chess champion of West Block by winning the best games out of a three-game match.
“It was nerve-racking to sit across from a player that is far more superior in skill and experience [than I am],” said Hamilton.
His journey to chess champion started at other prisons. He said that, after losing numerous matches to opponents much more skilled than he was, he read the book Chess for Dummies.
After reading that book and others, Hamilton started accepting challenges. After arriving in San Quentin, he studied to increase his own skills and met other highly skilled chess players. Mitchell was one of them.
“I was in awe whenever I saw other men play,” said Hamilton.
Hamilton did not participate in last year’s tournament, but Mitchell told him he predicted Hamilton would become the next chess champ. Entering as an underdog at the end of December, Hamilton showcased his skills to a packed dayroom of residents.
After defeating four other players, Hamilton was face-to-face with his mentor. Among the residents who gathered around the table and hung over the tiers to see the match, Hamilton achieved his first victory against Mitchell with a pawn push that checkmated the king.
The next match ended with Mitchell’s show of submission when he tipped over his king; a gentleman’s admission of defeat.
“I was in disbelief to emerge victorious,” said Hamilton. The gentlemen shook hands and Mitchell congratulated Hamilton on his win.
“Chess means so much to me. It has saved me in some very trying times. It is a great honor to be a part of this West Block community,” said Hamilton.