Meet the NYC middle schoolers who just won a national chess championship title

NYC middle school students win National Girls Chess Tournament title

NEW YORK - A group of girls from New York City's own Success Academy brought home a national trophy in chess in April. The school specializes in sharing the game's life skills with students.

NYC middle schoolers win Under 14 division at National Girls Chess Tournament

Overcoming the challenges of chess, cheers for champions Kyla McRoy, Dhruthi Rao and Anjyu Fujita after they topple all opponents under 14 at the National Girls Chess Tournament in Chicago.

"Tournaments can give you money, it can give you national attention, and honestly, chess is also really fun," McRoy said.

"I like the fact that it's a hard game, that it's not just based on luck," added Rao. "It's based on practice and effort."

The girls practice in classes and on the club team at Success Academy, a charter school system that started in Harlem for students in underserved communities. Chess is one of many tools the school uses to teach critical thinking.

"I used to play the first thing I thought of, and as I've played chess more and more, I realize it's better to calculate first and think about what you should do before you do something," said Fujita.

"It's really important in real life, too," McRoy added, "because it teaches you planning skills and allows you to think for your future and anything you want to do."

The game helps make them more than a pawn in the world around them, and they are not the only ones. Eight hundred of the schools' students are ranked nationally, with a dozen in the top 100, but the successes of chess are integrated into every child's education.

"For kids who are as young as 5 years old, they learn how to take turns," explained Greg Keener, a Success Academy Senior Chess Specialist. "They learn to play a rules-based game with other children, so there's certainly that aspect to it that helps with their development, but it also helps with things like calculation, pattern recognition."

As pieces are exchanged, so are ideas. Nine-year-old Annie Li also brought home gold from Chicago, winning individually in her division.

"Chess helps your brain power, and it helps you with your future, like college," said Annie. "You get to go on a bunch of adventures around the world just playing chess."

She is on a quest to win a world crown, as a queen.

Over the weekend, Success Academy's elementary school team in the Bronx also won a national championship in Ohio.

To learn more about the chess program offered at Success Academy, click here.

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