Cook County inmates compete in international chess tournament

A new international chess competition began Wednesday for inmates only, and it all started in the Cook County Jail 10 years ago with lessons on how to play the game.

Then, about six years ago, the county challenged a jail in Russia to a game online.

Since then, the challenge has grown into an international competition — played in 30 countries and six different time zones.

Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart says he ran into a former inmate during Wednesday’s opening ceremony.

"He said it made him think differently, it made him be more analytic, he understood there was repercussions for different things so you need to think multiple moves ahead. And so it was just amazing, I couldn't have made this thing up. But it spoke to what we're trying to do here," Dart said.

The Cook County Jail also has a program called "Checkmates for Kids" — which allows detainees to play chess virtually with their children via Skype and Zoom.