The movie Casablanca came out in 1942, the same year my characters Fletcher Dukes and Altovise Benson were born. I love the opening scene for Bogart where director Michael Curtiz has the camera find character, Rick Blaine,  playing a solitary game of chess.
At the start of my writing process for Peach Seed Monkey, before deciding to write the novel first, I was working on the screenplay version and saw a certain actor—who shall remain nameless for now—as my Fletcher Dukes. The Rick Blaine chess scene inspired me to have Fletcher play solitaire checkers—remembering that my dad had a homemade checker board in the Atlantic filling station he ran for a few years in east Albany in the 1960s. Here he is with a group of buddies (and my cousin “Stokey” on his left) standing in front of that station. You gotta love the hats:

My dad, Silas Jones, standing in doorway of Atlantic Gas Station he ran in 1960s.

For the checkerboard they used a piece of  old plywood, painted the squares with black shoe polish and bottle caps were used as pieces —half with cork side up. In that small room filled with cigarette smoke and the smell of gasoline and oil, they sat the board on an overturned 5-gallon plastic bucket, pulled up mix-matched chairs and the game began—they slapped those bottle caps down along with friendly quips and  jabes.
As Fletcher’s character developed, I rethought it (at his suggestion of course) and we decided to have him foil the stereotype and play chess. A friend sent me this article yesterday about current day young black chess masters. Since we’re not hearing about it in the mainstream media, we can all do our part to spread some good news ~