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Pressuring c3 ... 18. Bd2 Qh5! Or swinging over to the kingside! White

has done nothing obviously wrong, yet he is already worse.

19. h3 Rae8 20. Ne2 Bxd2 21. Qxd2 e3 22. Qe1

22. Qd3 is the only way to keep the dis- advantage within bounds.

22. ... Ne4

-+-+rtr-mk +p+-+-zpp p+n+-+-+ +-+-+-+q -+-+n+-+ +L+-zp-+P PzPP+N+P+ tR-+-wQR+K

After 22. ... Ne4 And just like that, Black is winning.

23. Kg1 Nf2 24. Ng3 Qh4 25. Nh1 Nd4 26. c3 Nf3+ 27. gxf3 Nxh3+ 28. Kg2 Nf4+ 29. Kg1 Qh3 30. Rf2 exf2+ 31. Qxf2 Ne2+ 32. Qxe2 Rxe2 33. Nf2 Qg3+ 34. Kh1 Rxf2 35. Rg1 Qh2 mate.

This game shows the combination of

creativity, fearlessness, and accuracy that makes Justus such a difficult opponent.


In sixth grade, it was clear James Black had talent. He quickly developed into a class A player, taking clear first at grade school nationals with 61

⁄2 /7. Before the

year was out, he had crossed 2100, seem- ingly unstoppable. Another individual title followed the next year: first on tiebreaks in the K-8 Championship, a victory charac- terized by James’ creativity in attack. But to become a 2300+ player, James used the oldest trick in the book: hard work. The three-time U.S Champ has an end-

less appetite for chess information and literature: He collects the Quality Chess Grandmaster Repertoire books, seeking to pick up ideas from openings he doesn’t play himself. James has studied every world champion independently; his eyes light up when he talks about them. “Smyslov is like, the ultimate classical player” he once explained to me. “No move is over aggres- sive, no move is passive. Everything makes perfect sense.” But his favorite player is part of the new wave; James’ voice rises slightly when he talks about Levon Aronian. “I love the way he can just ... sac an Exchange in so many positions!”

I.S. 318 on the Silver Screen

A two-years-younger Justus Williams in a scene from Brooklyn Castle.

Before I.S. 318 became National High School champions, they were filmed for the documentary Brooklyn Castle, which will be reviewed in Chess Life later this year. The information listed below is from the time of filming. See more about the film at (In the film, Elizabeth Spiegel’s name was Vicary.)

Intermediate School 318 in Brooklyn, New York, is housed in a squat con- crete building on a dingy inner-city block. The school’s exterior offers little to impress but, in room 319, something extraordinary is happening. Over the last decade, hundreds of Ms. Vicary’s students have learned to play chess. The school has a powerhouse chess team that has won 26 national chess titles—more than any other junior high school in the country. It’s a partic- ularly notable achievement for I.S. 318, a Title I school, where more than 60 percent of students are from homes with incomes well below the federal poverty line.

Brooklyn Castle follows five of the school’s chess team members for one year, and documents their challenges and triumphs both on and off the chess- board. Justus is a prodigiously talented 10-year-old trying to navigate the unfamiliar pressures that come with newfound success and adulation. 11- year-old Patrick struggles with ADHD, and uses chess to improve his con- centration. Alexis, 12, already views chess as a means to attain a higher education and support his immigrant family. Rochelle—an ambitious 13-year- old—strives to become the first African-American female to reach the level of chess master. And the team’s emotional and outspoken leader, 12-year- old Pobo, rallies his fellow students against school budget cuts while running for school president. In each of these young teens, we witness the profound ways that learning and playing the beautiful and complex game of chess has imbued the lives of these equally beautiful and complex students at an under- funded urban public school.

This year, I.S. 318’s chess team is the strongest in school history. But as the New York City public school system continues to reel from state and city- wide financial crises, I.S. 318’s budget has been cut by more than $1 million. After school programs like chess are often frontline budgetary casu- alties, despite their proven success in improving students’ development in ways often unattainable in the classroom, especially in high-needs areas.

Coaches John Galvin and Elizabeth Vicary deeply believe that their students have benefitted from playing chess, and they are committed to keeping their program intact and alive. For Justus, Patrick, Alexis, Pobo and Rochelle, chess is more than just a game. It is a theatre of hard work and determi- nation where they negotiate larger conflicts by maneuvering their armies of rooks, knights, pawns, and bishops—and where they can become kings and queens, far beyond the tabletop battlefield.

Chess Life — July 2012



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