Karen Black found out through a text message on Jan. 26 that Erik Anderson, founder of First Move: America’s Foundation for Chess, was on his way to Puyallup to deliver a $7,500 check to her.
The money was to go toward a chess table memorial for her son, Staff Sgt. Bryan Black, who was killed in an ambush in Niger in October.
Black was from Puyallup — graduating from Puyallup High School in 2000 — and had a background in chess.
“It was just so nice to meet (Anderson). He was gracious and encouraging,” Karen Black said. “His foundation was a perfect match. I can see why he felt the connection.”
It was just so nice to meet (Anderson). He was gracious and encouraging. His foundation was a perfect match. I can see why he felt the connection.
Karen Black, mother of Bryan Black
First Move: American’s Foundation for Chess, based out of Bellevue, was founded in 2000 and aims to teach students creative and critical thinking skills through chess to help them succeed in life.
“His foundation encourages scholastic chess and has wonderful curriculum. It impacted both of my sons in such a positive way,” Karen Black said.
Anderson met with Karen Black, Phil Watson, longtime friend of Bryan Black, and Puyallup City Council members Tom Swanson and Robin Farris on Jan. 26 at Puyallup City Hall.
There, he presented Karen Black with a check, as well as a chess board signed by Magnus Carlson, current World Chess Champion and honorary chair of America’s Foundation for Chess. The board will be given to Jason Black, Bryan’s older brother. A signed board was also sent to Watson.
Anderson also took the time to FaceTime with Bryan Black’s wife and children in North Carolina.
Anderson, whose father is from Puyallup, heard about the fundraiser to raise money for a memorial for Bryan through a friend. He felt compelled to help — even more so when he learned about Bryan’s love of chess.
“It seemed a very worthwhile thing to do, to honor the service of that family and their loss,” Anderson said. “It’s their dream and vision (that) there is a permanent place for children and families and all people to enjoy a game they love and he loved.”
It seemed a very worthwhile thing to do, to honor the service of that family and their loss. It’s their dream and vision there is a permanent place for children and families and all people to enjoy a game they love and he loved.
Erik Anderson, founder of First Move: America’s Foundation for Chess
The effort to raise money for the Pioneer Park memorial launched with a GoFundMe, started by Puyallup Parks Foundation manager Therese Pasquier. The goal was $7,500 — which was raised in a little over two weeks.
Now, with Anderson’s donation, the family will have more to spend on the memorial for Bryan’s legacy — whether that be to hold a chess tournament or adding a third child-sized chess table to the memorial.
“I think it’s really important (for people) to know that the money is going to be well-used and every penny will be used for encouraging chess in the area,” Karen Black said.
The goal is to have the memorial built by the summer. Anderson said he hopes to attend the opening of the memorial and play a few games of chess.
“We’ll look forward to moving some wood around the board,” he said.