The Chessman

Photo credit to Carl Hammond.

Carl Hammond intensely focuses on the game and thinks hard about each move before making it. Even when the game is not going his way, he is calm and patient and even cracks a joke here or there. However, when it comes to the actual gameplay he is serious and strategic, planning several steps ahead and careful not to take any unnecessary risks. The way he can predict his opponent’s moves several steps ahead is mind-blowing. Now professor of financial and managerial accounting, Carl Hammond has been a General Manager, Vice President of Finance, Lieutenant Junior, Consultant and now spends much of his time playing chess with students in the Point Loma Nazarene University cafeteria. 

“I play chess three to four times a week in the cafeteria so I can meet students other than business majors,” said Hammond.

The United States Navy brought Carl Hammond to San Diego in 1969 where he pursued a range of careers. Before he became a professor at PLNU, Hammond was the Vice President of Finance for The Lomas Santa Fe Group, a controller and treasurer for the Douglas Allred Company, the Chief Financial Officer for Action Instruments Co., a General Manager for the Hammond Candy Company and a Certified Public Accountant for Price Waterhouse. 

Marsha Nelson, journalism professor Dean Nelson’s wife, worked for Hammond toward the end of his accounting career and suggested that he come to PLNU. Hammond was not interested in teaching, but accepted the role to become an adjunct professor and also worked a consulting job with a non-profit organization. Once Hammond set foot in the classroom, however, he knew he was in the right place. Professor Hammond has now been teaching financial and managerial courses at PLNU for 20 years.

“I realized this is what I am supposed to be doing with my life,” Hammond said. 

Students, like second-year journalism major Nick Hancock, are a testament to Hammond’s calling to teach here at PLNU. Nick Hancock has Hammond as his professor in an accounting class for non-business majors and said he thoroughly enjoys Hammond’s teaching.

“He has a really positive outlook on both his class and life,”  Hancock said. “I thought it was cool how he would pray with us before each class and make jokes during the lesson to try to make accounting more interesting.”

Hancock does not know much about the game of chess, but he noticed Professor Hammond around campus with his chess set and became intrigued. 

“I would see him playing chess before he was my teacher and thought he just came onto campus to play chess with the kids, but then I realized he was also a professor,” Hancock said. “Some of my friends have played with him and greatly enjoy it. However, when I told professor Hammond I did not know how to play, he said he would love to teach me.” 

PLNU has its fair share of chess players that enjoy professor Hammond’s company. It is rare for Hammond to be sitting at a table without an opponent. One of Hammond’s daily players is first-year math major Garret Liao.

Liao noticed Hammond with his chess board outside of the cafeteria the second week of school and asked if he could play. Liao and Hammond have continued to play two to three times a week since. 

“I enjoy being able to analyze positions with him and talk about life during the games. I also like that he is a friendly opponent that offers me a challenge,” Liao said.

One game of chess at a time Hancock and Liao say they have learned lessons not only in chess but about life and the little things within it that truly matter.

Written By: Gracie Heffington