‘Chess twins’ dominate competition
Valley Stream Herald – Valley Stream, NY, USA
From 2007-2009, Jehron was ranked No. 1 overall in New York, while his brother, Nigel, was ranked third in the state. Their dominance over the country’s top competition is all the more impressive, considering the twins are only 12 years old. Nigel and Jehron are currently in seventh grade at Memorial Junior High School.
Their father, Derrick, is a chess instructor at the Harlem Children Zone, and taught his boys the strategies of chess by the time they were 6. “We used to watch our dad play in the park and see how happy people got when they won,” Nigel said.
Before the boys could enter into any competitions, their father wanted to teach them a valuable lesson: losing with grace. “It was tough when we were younger,” Jehron said. “But if we weren’t able to accept losing, it would’ve been a lot tougher.”
However, the boys don’t lose often. When the boys were only 10, Jehron competed against two students from Stuyvesant High School — one of the most prestigious high schools in the state — and beat both of them. They also competed at the Supernationals — the Olympics of chess — in Nashville, Tenn. in early April and placed in the top 10 in a tournament in Saratoga. The boys compete in local tournaments for practice and often square off against each other, but only to sharpen each other’s skills. “We try to teach each other from our mistakes,” Nigel said. “We are always for each other, and never against.”
The spirit of competition, Nigel said, is what drives him to continue competing and improving his game. “I’m definitely proud of being so young and beating people older than me,” he said.
Jehron added that he likes being known as the second-best chess player in the country. “My dad inspired me,” Jehron said. “I wanted to be just like him.”
Though it was tough to admit, Nigel said his brother is better than he is. Every day, after completing their school work, the boys said they study puzzles and strategy tactics for about three hours. They also practice against the computer and compete against online players. “When you’re on top, you want to stay on top,” Jehron said of practicing often.
They agreed that they have different strategies for different opponents and often can sense fear in the opposition.”You can tell by their facial expressions,” Nigel said. “So you get more aggressive when you see they’re scared, and you make them crumble.”
Nigel noted that with higher ranked players, he and his brother are more cautious with their strategies. They both enjoy playing basketball and baseball, and Nigel said he hopes, that one day, he can become a chess grandmaster — the highest rank for a chess player. Jehron has a similar goal. “I want to be the youngest African-American master,” he said.
The boys are competing in a tournament this Sunday at Bryant Park and their father said he was just happy that they were excelling at something they liked. “I’m very proud of whatever they do that’s positive,” he said.