It's a story that could be shelved next to Rudy and other tales of underdog greatness: Except in the case of the chess players from Brooklyn's IS 318 Eugenio Maria de Hostos, their age, not their ability, is what makes them unlikely winners. And win they did on Sunday, taking the crown at the National High School Championships. As middle schoolers. The New York Times reports that the 18-member IS 318 team has so many wins under its belt that its coach doesn't even know the exact number, and two of its 13-year-old players are ranked as masters.
IS 318 actually tied for first with an actual high school team, but because it had played tougher opponents, it was deemed the winner. "To my knowledge, it has never happened before," says the United States Chess Federation's director of the middle-school victory. The Times notes that chess is taken seriously at the 1,600-student school; half of those kids take chess classes. Amusing side note: The team has a rather anticlimactic trip planned for next week: to the National Junior High Championships.