At Brooklyn's Intermediate School 318, Chess is King
If you had walked into Intermediate School 318 in Brooklyn early last week, you would have heard a loud roar coming from the classrooms. You might have thought it was pep-rally for the school’s football team, or something like that. However, if you had walked into the classroom where the most noise was coming from, you would have seen that instead of cheerleaders and a marching band, it was six high-speed chess matches that were making all of the ruckus. At Intermediate School 318, chess is serious business. Why, you might ask? Because this middle school is the winner of the United States Chess Federation’s national high school championship.
On April 8, 2012, I. S. 318’s chess team – which is composed of mostly 8th grade students – traveled to Minneapolis to compete in the tournament against high schools that are notoriously good at the game. They won the tournament, which is great for them, but it is far from being their first major win. In every stairwell at I. S. 318, you can find a chess trophy from various tournaments. The kids are good.
One of the best chess players at the school is James Black Jr., who is only 13-years old. Black is a certified chess master and one of the most popular kids at school. When he is not playing chess himself, he likes to watch others play and correct others when they need his help.
In my opinion, what’s even more impressive about these chess-geniuses is that they are still in middle school. Evidently, I’m not the only one who thinks so.
“The difference in mental development between a junior high school kid and a high school kid is impossible to overstate,” said Elizabeth Spiegel. Spiegel is the full-time chess teacher at I. S. 318. A few years ago, the school only had an after-school program who students who wanted to learn to play chess, but Spiegel saw the interest the students had in the game and worked hard to transform them into national champions. Chess is now a required subject for 6th grade students, while 7th and 8th graders can choose to take the class as an elective.
It seems that teaching chess as a mandatory class has worked out well for the students at I. S. 318. We wish them a huge congratulations and best of luck at their next tournament!
Via The New York Times