They’ve got the competition in check!
Edward R. Murrow High School’s legendary chess team won the Greater New York Scholastic Chess Championship on Jan. 7, adding to the Midwood school’s plethora of victories and the rich chess culture that has taken hold there.
“After winning so many times, the school has a great respect for us,” said sophomore team member Anthony Saquisili. “I love chess cause of the competition.”
Math teacher and team coach Eliot Weiss started the team in 1981, his first year as a calculus teacher at Murrow. It started off as casual gatherings among chess fanatics, but developed into a competitive team with success akin to the Yankees — wracking up 21 city and 18 state championships since winning its first in 1988.
Weiss attributes their success to the kids’ love for the game, their preparation, and the opportunities they have to play for free in a sport that’s often expensive.
“Chess tournaments, believe it or not, can be $70 per kid,” he said. “They’re not cheap.”
The students at Murrow play at The Right Move, an organization that allows kids to play for free, and of which Weiss is executive director. They also play free of charge at Chess in the Schools, a business that supports low-income youth development through chess, according to Weiss.
Murrow’s deep appreciation for chess attracts students from a variety of backgrounds. Senior and four-year team member Anano Kapanadze started playing chess as a child in the Eurasian country of Georgia, but stopped for a while after coming to Brooklyn as an 8-year-old due to the few opportunities to play.
“None of the schools offered it,” she said.
Kapanadze attended Murrow in part due to the school having a chess program, and thinks all their victories are bringing more Brooklyn kids to the board.
“I think it’s growing because of the attention we bring to it,” she said. “It’s a really good thing Mr. Weiss has been doing for us.”