Landon Nordeman for TIME
Bob Ferguson at the Time 100 Gala at Jazz at Lincoln Center on April 25, 2017 in New York City. Landon Nordeman for TIME

How Chess Helped the Washington Attorney General File the First Lawsuit Against Trump's Travel Ban

Apr 25, 2017

Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson said his experience as an expert chess player helped his office successfully file the first state lawsuit against President Donald Trump's travel ban.

"Chess teaches you many things. It teaches you how to anticipate your opponent's move. It teaches you to think ahead. It teaches you how to take a calculated risk," Ferguson, who once considered a career as a professional chess player, said at the TIME 100 Gala on Tuesday. "We anticipated he was going to introduce a travel ban, so we were prepared for it. We anticipated that move, so to speak, from the President."

In January, Ferguson's office filed a lawsuit within 72 hours of Trump signing an executive order barring immigrants from seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the United States. Federal judge James Robart sided with the state of Washington in a February ruling, putting a temporary halt on Trump's travel ban.

"There was a lot of uncertainty in the decision, but often in chess, you have to make decisions where the position's complicated, but in order to win the game, you have to take a calculated risk," Ferguson said. "It required a calculated risk to file that lawsuit when, at that time, most legal experts thought we were going to lose. That was the conventional wisdom at that point."

Trump issued a revised travel ban in March, which was put on temporary hold after a federal judge in Hawaii ruled to block the executive order. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has agreed to review the order in May.

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