October 12, 2006
A Notable Chess Journey for Talented New York Girls
New York Times

Medina Parrilla, a sophomore at DeWitt Clinton High School in the Bronx, is nervous about a trip next week to Batumi, in Georgia, a republic of the former Soviet Union. She is going to compete in the World Youth Chess Championships.

But Medina said: “I’m not nervous about playing. I passed that stage a long time ago. I’m nervous about the country. I don’t know what to expect from a place like that.”

Darrian Robinson, a seventh grader at Intermediate School 318 in Brooklyn, who is going with Medina as part of the United States team, said she was excited about venturing to a new place.

The girls are accomplished chess players — Medina, 15, is ranked No. 7 in the country among girls under 16 and Darrian, 12, is No. 6 among girls under 13 — but they stand out among their roughly 25 teammates because as African-Americans they will be making history at the tournament.

It will be the first time that two African-American players have represented the United States in an international chess competition. That both are girls makes it that much more remarkable.

Although chess is a meritocratic game — all a player needs is a set, a board and an opponent— African-American players competing in organized tournaments are rare, according to Bill Hall, executive director of the United States Chess Federation.

Part of the reason, he suspects, has to do with economic barriers.

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