Brooklyn Castle, a documentary film that opened in theaters on October 19, tells the winning story of a chess team at Intermediate School 318, in Brooklyn, New York. Most of the students' families do not have much money. But the school has the most successful middle school chess team in the nation.
How did these kings and queens of the board sharpen their skills? "At 318, we have chess classes up to two times a day and up to seven times a week," Pobo Efekoro told TFK. Pobo was 12 years old when filming started. He is now 16. "Chess was school," adds Alexis Paredes, who also stars in the movie.
All the Right Moves
When budget problems hit I.S. 318, Pobo ran for student body president. He pledged to restore after-school programs like chess that budget cuts had threatened to end. "We organized a community campaign," says Pobo, who won the election.
The campaign worked, and some of the programs were restored. I.S. 318's winning streak continued when its chess team came in first at the junior high nationals. "When you set your goals high, you're going to get a result," says Pobo.
These tip-top players hope the movie shows that playing chess is about more than the thrill of competition. The game helps develop problem-solving and concentration skills. "When you're playing in a deep game and feeling that every move you make is perfect—that's the best part of chess," says Justus Williams, 14. "Win or lose, you're going to get better from that."
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