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Chess is King in Brooklyn at weekend NYC school tournament

More than 1,500 students play, highlighting sport's enduring popularity

January 9, 2018 By John Alexander Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Hundreds of students from both public and private high schools from in and around New York City gathered at the New York Marriott at the Brooklyn Bridge in Downtown Brooklyn on Sunday to participate in the 2018 New York City High School Chess Championship. Eagle photo by Rob Abruzzese
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It’s no wonder that Midwood’s Edward R. Murrow High School made big news this week winning the chess tournament at the New York Marriott at the Brooklyn Bridge. Brooklyn kids are learning more and more about the exciting game of chess.

Christian Whitted, owner of The New York Chess and Game Shop at Flatbush Avenue, thinks the reason for chess’ popularity is simple. “The freedom to create their own personal, action-packed, drama-filled ‘mind movie’ excites these kids,” Whitted told the Brooklyn Eagle.

“They love the strategic competition and the mystery of the outcome … and of course the possibility of triumphantly capturing one of the ultimate prizes, a bright, shiny, gold trophy really helps motivate them.”

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The Murrow students grabbed that bright shiny trophy at the 52nd Greater New York Scholastic Chess Championship on Jan. 7 at the Marriott. Since 1966, it is the longest-running U.S. chess event, and since 2014, it’s been taking place at the Marriott.

This year’s tournament found more than 1,500 students from hundreds of public and private New York high schools taking on the challenge.

Aidan Alleyne, the 9-year-old son of Marriott Director of Security Adrian Alleyne told the Brooklyn Eagle, This is my third city championship.  It’s so exciting playing kids from all over N.Y.  I learn so much and have so much fun.” Aidan was representing the Collegiate School in Manhattan.

This year’s grand champion team from Murrow managed to win the contest by a half-point. They were able to narrowly defeat Jericho High School in Long Island during the final round of the two-day tournament.

This is Murrow’s 21st city trophy in the 37 years since the team was formed. The team was made up of 20 talented students from different backgrounds and various religions and nationalities.

Rounding out the top-five teams are Columbia Grammar and Preparatory School, New York (third), Edgemont Junior/Senior High School, Scarsdale (fourth) and Stuyvesant High School, New York (fifth).

Coach Eliot Weiss has been the mentor behind all of those titles. He became a math teacher at Murrow High School in 1981 and immediately started the team. It took him until 1989 to lead his students to its first city championship, but they quickly started dominating after that, winning six cities in a row and their first national title in 1993.

Murrow students credit him with being a great motivator and helping to make it all happen.

The champions will next head for Saratoga to compete in the state tournament on March 8. Murrow has won the state tournament twice in the last four years, and hopes to do it again this year.

It’s always magical to witness a room filled with hundreds of kids, sometimes thousands, and every one of them is completely focused and concentrating as hard as they can on being the best in the room,” Whitted added.

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