Meet The Inner-City Brooklyn Kids Who Dominate At Chess

coach brooklyn castle

Photo: Brooklyn Castle

Intermediate School 318 located in inner-city Brooklyn got a chess team 10 years ago. Since then, students have gone on to win 26 national titles — the most of any school in the country.Brooklyn Castle by filmmaker Katie Dellamaggiore chronicles a year in the lives of the young chess champions and the impacts of massive school budget cuts.  

You can watch the entire extended trailer here

IS 318 is located in Williamsburg, Brooklyn and educates 11 to 14-year-olds. School officials say more than 60 per cent of students fall below the poverty line.

The school has received media attention for their high-ranked chess team. This New York Post cover displayed in their school commemorates the time they beat high school champions.

Patrick says he ranks second-to-last on the 85-member chess team, but he is happy he can play at all. He has severe ADHD and is always working to improve his score.

The students compete in national championships and have won 26 national titles, the most of any school in the U.S.

12-year-old Alexis is one of the highest-ranked students on the team. He wants to use chess as a way to get into a prestigious NYC high school and eventually support his parents, who immigrated to the U.S.

Rochelle is also one of the highest-ranked students on the team. Her goal is to be the first African-American woman chess master. She is shown here with one of her favourite trophies.

Elizabeth Vicary is the team's coach and a former chess master. She is the driving force behind the team's success and says she can take kids with no experience to expert level in 3 years.

The school administrators discuss how they will deal with school budget cuts of $1 million. The cuts are devastating because they make up 10 per cent of the budget and threaten the chess program.

Kids clamor to be on the chess team and spend hours a week to be the best. These kids are shown practicing at national championships.

Chess has transformed the school into one of the highest-ranked in the entire city and is a testament to what kids can do if given the opportunity, according to the filmmaker.

Whether the kids can continue to play depends on NYC school funding.

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