By Mary Frost
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Two hundred city kids are sharpening their chess skills — and their academics — this summer by attending Chess-in-the-Schools summer camp.
The after-school and summer programs have helped transform Brooklyn into a chess powerhouse, and have improved kids’ school performance and thinking skills as well.
In Brooklyn, the Chess-in-the-Schools summer camp takes place at P.S. 503 in Sunset Park, a Title 1 school where half the students are just learning English. In spite of these obstacles, the P.S. 503 team took home a first-place trophy from the United States Chess Federation’s National Elementary Championship in May, beating older students.
P.S. 503 is the second Brooklyn public school team to win a national championship this season by beating middle school or high school students. I.S. 318 in Williamsburg, a middle school, took home the National High School Championships this year. Both schools’ chess teams have received significant support from Chess-in-the-Schools.
Summer camp kids hope to repeat this performance. At a recent regional summer chess tournament, Jasmine Yang of P.S. 131 in Borough Park earned first place in the “unrated” category, comprised of students without a United States Chess Federation ID.
She proved her playing skills in the four-round, “Game 30” competition, which involves 25 minutes of maneuvering and a 5-minute blitz game.
Edwin Lucero of P.S. 503 in Sunset Park earned third place in the unrated category. Markus Pond, from P.S. 318 in Prospect Park South, earned a 3rd place trophy, while Yuen High Lee from P.S.131 in Borough Park, came in 5th.
Manuel Najera, a student from P.S. 503 in Sunset Park, tied for 8th place in the tournament. Other participants included Jomin Zhang from P.S. 503, and Aleem Awan from Brooklyn Technical High School.
To learn more about the Chess-in-the-Schools program visit www.chessintheschools.org.