My fourth-grade son, Seth, and his friends at Success Academy Union Square are chess-obsessed. Chess is an essential component of SA’s school design starting in Kindergarten, and the program creates super-fans. They follow the careers of the world’s biggest grandmasters, and last year many of them travelled to elementary school nationals in Nashville, Tennessee, where they competed against the best young players in the country.
That’s why they were thrilled when they had the chance to watch two renowned chess grandmasters — Norway’s Magnus Carlsen and Russia’s Sergey Karjakin — go head-to-head at the ninth game of the 2016 World Chess Championships match, held on November 23 in New York City’s South Street Seaport neighborhood. The World Chess Championship consisted of 12 total chess games played over three weeks between the two renowned players. This past Wednesday, Magnus Carlsen — a 26-year-old player who has brought new, young fans to the sport — won the title for a third year in a row.
We were in for quite a treat — when the day’s game began, Magnus Carlsen was slightly behind, but after five long hours of play, it ended in a draw. I was so impressed with the kids dedication to the experience — we arrived at 1pm and stayed through the entire game and the post-game press conference!
Our stamina paid off. The kids wound up meeting both players after the press conference — and getting photographs and autographs with each of them. They spoke with the famous players about their love of chess and were ecstatic about meeting their idols. One of the scholars, Rachel, had passed the time during the press conference making origami flowers for each player. You can see Sergey holding it in the second photo of the slideshow below. Even today, the kids are still talking about this incredible experience. They know they witnessed history being made.
They know they witnessed history being made.
Afterwards, my son Seth said, “It was an amazing experience meeting the world champion [Carlsen] and his opponent Sergey — both of them are grandmasters. It was eye-opening to see that even though they are great players, even grandmasters make mistakes. Me and my friends were able to follow their strategies and try to predict what moves they were going to make, which was very fun. I never thought I would get to meet them! The experience made me want to be a grandmaster even more.”
We weren’t the only members of the SA Community who enjoyed the 2016 World Chess Championships. On November 18, 17 of the network’s top-ranking scholars were offered passes to Game 6 of the series — an exciting game that also ended in a draw. Photos of Success Academy scholars at the World Chess Championships are in the slideshow below.