When you’re starting your day, Ben Munson is finishing his.

Munson is an officially rated chess expert.

Throughout the week, he works with kids from all nine elementary schools in West Des Moines schools on improving their chess game.

From left, Naomi Patel, 9, of Clive gets help from officially rated chess expert Ben Munson of Urbandale during Crestview Elementary School’s chess club meeting on Nov. 23.

“It’s fun,” Munson said. “I can’t imagine myself not doing it.”

It’s not the only thing he does do though.

The Urbandale native also works the drive through of a McDonalds from usually 10 p.m. until around 6 a.m. , for about five days each week.

Then, he heads to a school to help with chess.


“Nah,” he said. “I’m tired once I get home. I think I feed off their energy or something.”

The students are feeding off over five decades worth of experience from him.

Munson started playing chess in 1956. He’s been coaching since 1966.

When he’s at Crestview Elementary School, he uses second-grade teacher Deb Kellogg’s room. Through the years, the two have become close.

He could just go home after work, but…

“He does this out of the goodness of his heart,” Kellogg said.