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Mission Possible

Stories and insights on excellent education.

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.

  • SA Union Square scholar (left to right) Seth Fenton and Lucas Pavlov with chess Grandmaster Sergey Karjakin of Russia after Game 9 of the 2016 World Chess Championships on November 23, 2016.

  • SA Union Square scholars (left to right) Seth Fenton, Rachel Prizant, Danny Prizant, and Lucas Pavlov with chess Grandmaster Sergey Karjakin (holding Rachel’s origami dove) after Game 9 of the 2016 World Chess Championships.

  • Chess super-fans (left to right) Seth Fenton, Lucas Pavlov, Rachel Prizant, and Danny Prizant with Grandmaster Magnus Carlsen after Game 9 of the 2016 World Chess Championships.

  • SA Union Square chess coach Nicholas Norman, with scholars (left to right) Ann Goldey, Jayden Shum, Silas Smith at Game 6 of the World Chess Championships on November 18.

  • Members of SA Hell’s Kitchen chess team with Coach Robert Lazorchak and scholars (left to right) Thomas Zhang, Yunchen Guo, Renzo Lau, Aston Roberts, and Boris McCoy.

  • SA Hell’s Kitchen third-grader Aston Roberts makes a move against SA Union Square fourth-grader Jayden Shum at Game 6 of the World Chess Championships on November 18.

  • SA Hell’s Kitchen scholars (left to right) Yunchen Guo, Boris McCoy, and Aston Roberts watch Game 6 of the World Chess Championships unfold in the live viewing room.


Honing scholar’s natural curiosity for the world around them is the best way for them to become great scientific thinkers.


Perhaps no other American writer offered a more critical and searing look at racial inequality in America than James Baldwin, who published poems, non-fiction essays, and books from the 1950s until his death in 1987.