Bronx Center for Science and Mathematics underdog team wins 12th-grade title at chess nationals 

All of the Bronx kids who won were raised by single moms, worked weekend jobs to support their families, and studied chess for at least an hour every night. 

By Rachel Monahan / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS 
Friday, December 7, 2012, 8:55 PM 

They were underestimated.

Going up against the top chess players at Horace Mann, Stuyvesant and other elite high schools from across the country, three kids from a little known high school in the South Bronx weren’t given much of a shot by the oddsmakers.

But by the time the U.S. Chess Federation’s national championship tournament was over last weekend, the seniors from the Bronx Center for Science and Mathematics — all of them Bronx kids who were raised by single moms — had walked away with the 12th-grade prize.

“I’m really proud of what we accomplished,” said Tae Kim, 17, of the winners. “People are so narrow-minded because they don’t see us as competition.”

All three winners had to work weekends to help support their families. They had homework and exams but they still found time to study chess and play for at least an hour every night.

Sitting for an interview with the Daily News in their school library, the winners and their teammates were still exhausted from last weekend’s intense competition and a full week of school. But their principal Edward Tom still had energy left to crow.

“This is nothing short of a miracle,” Tom said. “We are an unscreened school in the poorest congressional district in the country.”

Unscreened schools don’t use test scores or other competitive admissions criteria.

One of the school’s winners was Justus Williams — the youngest African-American ever to reach the level of chess master. Another, Jonathan Hidalgo, 17, transferred to the school last year from a high school for at-risk kids.

He likes the game because even kids from the South Bronx have a chance of ending up on top, he said.

“It’s the probably the one thing I can be even to everybody if I work hard enough.”


Chess Daily News from Susan Polgar
Tags: , ,