12-year-old San Antonio chess player turns love of game into charitable cause

Nathan Adelstein is hosting a chess tournament fundraiser for cancer research and prevention

For 12-year-old Nathan Adelstein, chess is more than a hobby. The game of tactical gambit has become his passion.

SAN ANTONIO – It’s a board game played by millions of people around the world, but mastered by few.

A game made up of pawns, knights, bishops and rooks -- a piece that looks like a castle. The objective? Victory of course! Or simply putting the opponent in a checkmate position.

For 12-year-old Nathan Adelstein, chess is more than a hobby. The game of tactical gambit has become his passion.

“So my mom just came out of the blue just to teach it to me, which was very shocking and a life changer,” Adelstein said.

Chess requires more than just a knack, as it involves critical and analytical skills that Nathan has been bringing to the board since he was just 6-years-old.

“The parts of the game that most captivating to me? I like the thinking processes, the mental, I like that you have to think through your moves and that’s the part that caught my eye,” Adelstein said.

Jesse James Lozano is a National Chess Master and has coached Nathan for the past two years. He says Nathan is a natural with immeasurable potential.

It’s such a privilege to see the development of students, and Nathan in particular. He’s just he’s very, very smart, very, very intelligent. But like most kids, or maybe people that are undisciplined, quick to react and go at it, his level of patience has gone up so much,” Lozano said.

Lozano said much like real life, chess is a struggle. If you don’t prepare to play the game, you won’t get very far.

“I like that you have to think through what you’re doing in life; you can’t just rush it. And that’s also what chess has taught me. Do not rush. It taught me to take my time and think,” Adelstein said.

Nathan will be hosting a chess tournament in March to raise money for cancer research and prevention.

“I’ve decided that I can help the people that I care and love by doing something I enjoy, because two people from my family have caught cancer,” Adelstein said.

As a coach and chess mentor, Lozano said it’s not only Nathan’s heart for the game he’s most impressed by, but his desire to help others.

Now, many people want to take on responsibility, and he’s doing it to give back to others at such a young age. I mean, I can’t tell you how proud that makes me feel,” Lozano said.

Nathan’s Tournament Fundraiser will have rated and unrated options and it will take place in 16550 Huebner Road on March 20 from noon to 6 p.m. You can register by clicking here.

About the Authors:

Jonathan Cotto is a reporter for KSAT’s Good Morning San Antonio. He’s a bilingual award-winning news reporter and he joined KSAT in 2021. Before coming to San Antonio, Cotto was reporting along the U.S.-Mexico border in South Texas. He’s a veteran of the United States Navy.

Ben Spicer is a digital journalist who works the early morning shift for KSAT.