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"Brooklyn Castle": Inside a School of Chess Champs 

Wednesday, Nov 14 2012

At Midwood's I.S. 318, where up is down, and the geeks have inherited the earth, Katie Dellamaggiore follows several kids on the country's top-rated junior high chess team — including a garrulous junior politician, a sober prodigy, a spiky upstart, and an ambivalent girls' champ (play is segregated for unspecified reasons) — as they prepare to uphold the school's reputation. Like most kid competition docs, Brooklyn Castle explores the question of how and why certain kids succeed. A focus on the school's dedicated teachers and administrators and the endangered funding they depend upon offers two strong suggestions. We also gain a keen sense of how chess in particular helps otherwise academically challenged kids find a way into their own brains. And yet a premium on more conventional success emerges; struggling families mean pressure to lock into a high-earning career track. In the meantime, there is always the next game and its lessons; it seems both natural and a little sad that most of these kids only smile with a trophy in their hands.

About The Author

Michelle Orange


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