James Black Jr. King of Chessboard: Bed Stuy Youth wins national chess tourney
June 9, 2011 by Ashley Broadbelt
It’s morning at I.S. 318 on Walton Street in Williamsburg and James Black, Jr., 12, looked across the chessboard at his opponent, coach Elizabeth Vicray, and hit the timer with his right hand.
“Checkmate,” he said, smiling.
And so went another chess victory for Black, Jr., a Bedford-Stuyvesant resident who is determined to become the youngest grandmaster in the United States.
Black, Jr. recently led the school’s team to the national championships in both the K-8 and K-9 divisions. He is only seven points away from the 2,200 needed to be named a master by the United States Chess Federation.
“I think it will be great,” said Black Jr. of the notion of possibly being the youngest grandmaster ever in the United States. “I’ll make history.”
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A Master and a Gentleman
After church at Emmanuel last Sunday, I walked into Fulton Park with a winning spirit. This was my very first time there. Fulton Park in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn, New York is a well-known place where serious chessers come to demonstrate their tenacity on the board. I walked over to a huddle of chess players to greet my friend Sean and there was James Black, Jr. demolishing his opponent. His style was tough and aggressive—rapidly and impetuously capturing his opponent's piece and placing his piece in one swift move.
A man, who I'll affectionately call "The Referee," told me to sit down and play. Armed with my pink board, Saitek Competition Pro Game Clock III, and fancy tournament weighted pieces, I was very ready to play—but not James Black, Jr.! When I winced at the thought of playing James, Ref started to suggest that I was being a punk. I was nervous, but I ain't no punk; so before ridiculing myself further with trepidation, I plopped down across from this twelve-year-old master to begin what felt like a hazing into this camaraderie of chess players.
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