Tuesday, June 28, 2011

James A Black, Jr., in the New York Times

One Move Ahead of Opponents,

and Two Ahead of Trouble

It is impossible to miss that James Black Jr. is a chess champion when you walk into his home in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn.

Three trophies, each nearly three feet tall, sit on the floor in front of a fish tank. Other trophies crowd the floor in front of a living room cabinet that is covered with more trophies, many with medals dangling from them. There is an inlaid chess board on the coffee table in the center of the room with carved wooden pieces, and another board on the kitchen table.

James, 12, is a seventh grader at Intermediate School 318 in South Williamsburg, a perennial powerhouse in chess. Though the school’s teams have many talented players, James stands out.

full article

Sunday, June 26, 2011

guerrilla education in Milwaukee

The Guerrilla Classroom Initiative in Milwaukee has put up signs across the city that make it easier for parents to interact with their children in educational ways. genius.  see this article or their website for more

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Fischer, Qaddafi, Ilyumzhinov

amazing photos of Fischer-- I love the last one where he's wrapped in the blanket.

nice couple

Friday, June 17, 2011

second bughouse article!

a heated 318 bughouse dispute
The second article by my eighth grade class, Bughouse Attacking Themes and Partner Management is up!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

more James Black press!

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.”

full article Our Time Press here

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.

full article here

what you see is what you get

A study with obvious implications for female chessplayers.....

When What You See Is What You Get: The Consequences of the Objectifying Gaze for Women and Men

Psychology of Women Quarterly January 25, 2011

  1. Sarah J. Gervais sgervais2@unl.edu
    1. University of Nebraska-Lincoln
  1. Theresa K. Vescio
    1. The Pennsylvania State University
  1. Jill Allen
    1. University of Nebraska-Lincoln


This research examined the effects of the objectifying gaze on math performance, interaction motivation, body surveillance, body shame, and body dissatisfaction. In an experiment, undergraduate participants (67 women and 83 men) received an objectifying gaze during an interaction with a trained confederate of the other sex. As hypothesized, the objectifying gaze caused decrements in women’s math performance but not men’s. Interestingly, the objectifying gaze also increased women’s, but not men’s, motivation to engage in subsequent interactions with their partner. Finally, the objectifying gaze did not influence body surveillance, body shame, or body dissatisfaction for women or men. One explanation for the math performance and interaction motivation findings is stereotype threat. To the degree that the objectifying gaze arouses stereotype threat, math performance may decrease because it conveys that women’s looks are valued over their other qualities. Furthermore, interaction motivation may increase because stereotype threat arouses belonging uncertainty or concerns about social connections. As a result, the objectifying gaze may trigger a vicious cycle in which women underperform but continue to interact with the people who led them to underperform in the first place. Implications for long-term consequences of the objectifying gaze and directions for future research are discussed. 

If you look at the result carefully, you see that the "objectified" men actually perform better (although not significantly) than the control group.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

a kas pillowcase

think it's intentional?!
kudos to Jonathan for noticing.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

photos and bughouse!

The 8th graders first bughouse article is up!

Todd Maisel, the photographer with the NY Daily News, was very kind to send me these beautiful photos of James Black:

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Know Your Neighbor: James, the Chess Champ!

from WNYC/ NPR. original story here

James Black in the NY Daily News!

12-year-old Brooklyn chess champ eyes bold move: becoming youngest grandmaster ever

Thursday, June 2nd 2011, 4:00 AM
Already a rising national star at age 12, Bed-Stuy chess champ James Black Jr. wants to become the youngest American grandmaster in the game's storied history.
Black led the chess team from Intermediate School 318 in Williamsburg to national championships in both the K-8 and K-9 divisions in April - and is only seven points away from the 2,200 needed to be named a master by the United States Chess Federation.
"It would mean a lot because I've worked so hard for it," said James. "I've practiced a lot to become a great player."
James wants to beat the record of Ray Robson, a Florida player who became the youngest American elected grandmaster at age 14 in 2009.
He needs to amass at least 2,600 points by continuing to win tournaments and score favorable results against existing grandmasters to receive that title.
Few players ever reach that level, but Black's IS 318 coach Elizabeth Vicary said James has the ability to do it.
"I'm amazed by James," she said. "He's got enormous potential and is one of the smartest people I've ever met."
James' quest to be the best started at a young age after his dad, James Black Sr., bought a chess set at a K-Mart to teach himself how to play.
"My dad showed me how to move the pieces around and I just liked it," he said.
James joined the chess team when he was in third grade at Public School 308 and quickly developed into a formidable player.
"He learned some things so he could start whipping on his dad," Black Sr. said.
Years of waking up early before school to play against a computer or to read chess books helped James to become an elite player, but his dad said the game also helped his son grow into a well-rounded young man.
"Over the years his chess has become something that makes him think first before he reacts," he said. "We attribute that all to chess. It's a wonderful feeling."
As one of the few young African-American players to play on the national circuit, James wants to serve as a role model for others who want to take up the game.
"It means a lot for me to be able to continue to play and win and inspire others," he said.
James' strength as a player comes from his lack of ego, Vicary said. He is willing to try whatever he can to win and doesn't become discouraged when one plan of attack doesn't work.
"He's got a fantastic memory and is very clever at forcing plays," she said.
James said he likes to "create ideas...I like to dictate what the other player has to do."
He said he models his game after Mikhail Tal, a Russian grandmaster and world champion player who gained fame in the 1950s and '60s for his attacking technique.
"We have the same aggressive style," James said.

original article here

Hilariously, the article is reprinted/reposted on Susan Polgar's blog, but all references to me are edited out, and I'm cut out of the photo. :)

Wednesday, June 1, 2011