30 young chess enthusiasts experienced a day to remember. They participated in the Police Athletic League’s Wynn Center end of the year chess championship. Sponsored by the Brooklyn DA’s office and Maurice Ashley, their coach and the first African American International grandmaster in chess. Their prizes included not only shiny trophies and medals but also wizard chess sets, as seen in the Harry Potter films; NBA swag; and a surprise visit from former NBA player and St John’s star, Felipe López.
The event is a culmination of a partnership between the Brooklyn DA’s office, Police Athletic League, and Grandmaster Ashley. The program was the idea of the late DA Kenneth P Thompson, who died last year of brain cancer before having the chance to see it come to fruition. The 3rd and 4th graders, who have been getting top-level coaching twice a week since October by Grandmaster Ashley, have already played in a city-wide chess tournament and are getting used to news outlets regularly showing up to cover their story. Monique Porter, head of the center, has seen dramatic changes in the kids’ behavior since the program started. “It’s been a thrill to have my kids get coaching from such a chess legend as Grandmaster Ashley, and we are truly grateful for the Brooklyn DA’s office for making all this happen”
The event took place Friday May 26th at the Wynn Center PAL at 495 Gates Ave in Bedford Stuyvesant.