Barber Shop Chess League


Bring the Community Together One Move At A Time

Barbershop Chess League Tournament

The Barber Shop Chess League is a chess league that is focused on improving communication, collaboration and mentoring in the DMV area.  The member shops host games in their shops and sponsor a team to compete in quarterly tournaments against neighboring shops for a spectacular trophy.  The trophy remains displayed in that shop until the next tournament.  Participation in the League enables the barber shop owners to increase their visibility and give back to the community.

Taken Back Our Community Barbershop Chess League School Supply Drive

The dream of this league began two years ago and was described in this article… “The chess matches at the IHOP on Tech Road Silver Spring, started Sunday, are the brainchild of Tai Campbell, a Silver Spring community activist who believes chess is a way for different communities to connect with one another. His goal is to start a chess league between barbershop communities in Maryland, Washington, D.C. and Virginia in June. He said he envisions players from barbershops coming from as far as New Jersey to play in the league.” Full Article at



TBOC Barber Shop Chess League©

Bringing the Community Together One Move at a Time

Who Is Taken Back Our Community (TBOC)? TBOC is a non-profit member organization of New York (NY) CitiWorks (501-C3), based in New York City, that is focused on bringing the community together through innovative and affordable programming. At TBOC we focus on the daily contribution to individual and community well-being through a variety of educational and social programming.  These programs are designed to enhance the development of Mind – represented by the game of chess, Body – represented by sport of boxing, and Spirit – represented by the creation of music.  Tai Campbell is a community activist and is the Director of TBOC. Raised in East Orange, New Jersey, Tai was influenced at an early age to develop a life-long love of the game of chess. 

What Is the Barber Shop Chess League?  The Barber Shop Chess League is a chess league that was started in the Washington DC area and is focused on improving communication, collaboration and mentoring in local communities. The members host practice games in their shops and at other local places such as libraries and restaurants. Barber Shops organize a team of barbers and customers to compete in regular tournaments against neighboring shops for a spectacular trophy and to build community. The trophy remains displayed in that shop until the next tournament.  The members also supports the League through activities such as food drives for the local homeless shelter, referring children to TBOC after school programs and other events facilitated by TBOC.   

Why the Game of Chess?  As we learn more about the brain, we at TBOC believe that chess is a tool to build life skills such as better decision-making and discipline. Chess is known as “the game of kings.”

Who is sponsoring the " League” pilot?  TBOC is partnering with NY Citi Works in coordination with local chess gurus and clubs.

Why Should Your Shop Participate?  Participation in the League enables the owners to introduce the game of chess into their shops and thereby increase the visibility of their business, promote closer relationships between barbers and customers across generations, and give back to the community through participating in charity activities.  These charity activities will be coordinated with the owners such as conducting holiday food drives. 

How Does Your Shop Participate?  Shop owners fill out the application and commit to displaying a chess board, participating in hosting practice chess matches in down times and organize a shop team of customers and barbers for three monthly tournaments.  TBOC representatives will visit the shop to teach chess tips and host League conference information sharing conference calls.  TBOC will provide a chess set for each shop.  Owners are asked to encourage donations to TBOC as they feel comfortable.  All donations are tax deductible and a formal receipt can be provided upon request.  

Sample Case Study

Barber Shop Chess League programs are introduced into communities as pilots.  These pilots are represented by quads of barber shops.  In 2013 four barber shops, Big G’s Images, Ebony’s Barber Shop, Blue Collar Cuts and Mirrors Barber Shop, engaged in one of these community building three month programs.  Chess boards and chess clocks were set up on a table in a prominent area of the shop.  Flyers announcing the League were posted in the shop.  Regular practice sessions were held at local venues such as IHOP and the Tastee Diner in downtown Silver Spring.  Tai Campbell visited the barber shops regularly and connected with local chess gurus to coach the players at the practices sessions.  During the three month pilot TBOC works with the barber shop owners to participate in local community building activities.  For example, all the barber shops put boxes in their shops to collect food for the holiday season.  TBOC representatives collected the food and donated it to the local homeless shelter Shepherd’s Table.  TBOC’s Dream Catchers program recruited talent from barber shop customers.  In addition, TBOC’s after school program recruited children to participate in county schools to learn Chess, Music and Boxing.  At the end of the three months the shops sent representatives to play in the Tournament for the Chess Trophy.  The Tournament was held at Northwood High School.  Local businesses such as 7 Eleven, Nick’s Pizza and Silver Spring Market donated food and drinks for the event. Other member of the community participated including residents from Shepherd’s Table Homeless Shelter and three father and son teams.  Ebony’s Barber Shop won the Tournament and was able to proudly display the Chess Trophy in their shop.