New Bern Police Launch “New Bern Noble Knights” Chess Program

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The New Bern Police Department is excited to launch “New Bern Noble Knights,” a new program to teach our youth how to play chess. To kick off the program, the police department is hosting the first 12-week session beginning Monday, January 24, 2022, at 5:30pm at the New Bern Police Department substation inside New Bern Mall, located at 3134 US Highway 17 Business.

New Bern Noble Knights is a community-policing program designed to build and maintain strong relationships with middle school-aged youth. Through coaching, mentoring and team building, police department staff and volunteers will teach students the basics of chess and help them develop advanced skills. There is no cost to participate in the program and no prior chess knowledge or experience is required. Parents are welcome to participate alongside their kids so that they can learn and play chess together with their kids at home. Nolan Tomboulian, a schoolteacher, licensed chess instructor and enthusiast will lead the group. After January’s kickoff, the club will meet regularly on Mondays at 5:30pm at the substation. The 12-week session wraps up on April 11th.

“Learning to play chess when I was little helped me develop perspective,” said Officer R. Russell of the New Bern Police Department, who volunteered to participate in New Bern Noble Knights. “It helped me build self-confidence and curiosity.  I learned to ask ‘why’ instead of just accepting things as they are.”  Officer Russell has been with the department for two and a half years and often plays chess with friends. He was instrumental in the organization of the program and hopes kids develop the same perspective he did while learning to enjoy the game.

According to, playing the game not only brings people together, it also teaches players sportsmanship, how to realize the consequences of their actions, develops creativity and problem-solving skills, and helps players learn to remain calm under pressure.

“I recently started playing again and was really excited when our department started discussing the idea of a local chess club,” said Officer J. Woody, who also volunteered to participate. “Chess is a mind game.  It exercises your brain, forces you to think ahead, and is a masterful teacher of the art of patience. I know there are other chess players around here.  Hopefully kids and their parents will help us get this local club off the ground.”

Kids and parents who are interested should complete an application and return it to the New Bern Police Department, 601 George Street, between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday (except holidays) or bring it to the first session in January. The program’s application, as well as other pertinent materials, can be found on the city website at The New Bern Noble Knights Chess Club is sponsored by the New Bern Police Department Citizen Volunteers, Inc., a 501(c)(3) that hosts and participates in educational programs and events to promote public safety and crime prevention.

By Colleen Roberts, Public Information Officer