Chess Movie - The Story of I.S.318

  • SonofPearl
  • on 2/9/10, 11:07 AM.

randy_riveria.JPGScholastic chess is the lifeblood of our wonderful game.  Most of us learned to play while in school and once bitten by the bug it stays with us for life! Cool

Despite it's demonstrated benefits to young people, chess is not usually a priority for schools and is often the first to face the axe when budgets are cut.  However, you would think that a school with a national championship chess winning side would be different.

Not so.

Check out the message below for how YOU could help.


In 2007, filmmakers Katie and Nelson Dellamaggiore visited the I.S. 318 in Williamsburg Brooklyn, home to the best junior high chess team in the country. With 26 national titles to date this team is a powerhouse and their perennial success is a big source of school pride.

Fast forward almost three years later and I.S. 318 is dealt a massive school budget cut, one that now threatens the livelihood of their chess program. Is it possible the best chess team in the nation might not have the money to compete for this year's title? Chess is a lot more than just a board game - Katie and Nelson want the opportunity to show just why!
After a week of fundraising, Katie and Nelson reached their initial goal of $4000. But they need a lot more than that to finish their movie. Donors get a few perks and can be a part of something special!
Check out their awesome video teaser here!


If you want to help them make their movie, click here

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  • 7 years ago


    Why is it the public school system in this country is allowed to go down the toilet; while morally corrupt corporate bankers on Wall Street make millions of dollars in unearned bonuses, throw poor people out of the shabby homes they struggle to buy, and yet endow the elite private schools they attended with labs and libraries and pools?!

  • 7 years ago



    Sorry for joining the conversation so late. I'm the chess teacher in the movie. I work and am paid as a regular teacher for the NY public school system; I am certified in English but teach only chess classes. It's a bit like an elective or cluster position-- if a student doesn't have chess, they might have ceramics, or computers, or short story writing.  

    Katie and Nelson are raising money because making a movie is super expensive and they have been paying for everything out of their own pocket. Plus, it's not their job to fund the NY city school system, right?  

    They are planning to film through nationals this year, and the film should be out next winter.

    Thanks for liking it!

  • 7 years ago


    I do not intend this to be a negative comment; however, I was wondering just how much money it takes to run an extracurricular chess program.  I have purchased six nice roll up mats and six sets of men from the chess wholesale web site for about $75 (approx $6 each for mats and $6 for the entire set of pieces with extra queens). 

    I would imagine that finding a sponsoring teacher to stay after school would be inexpensive as well (or could this person be paid out of the school budget, similar to how they pay the band director extra during marching band season for the extra time he must commit to the band).

    I realize that there are other expenses, but they still would seem to be fairly low....with the exception of travel (to other locations for tournaments). for instance, you could purchase a nice number of chess books at a used book store for $100.  

    There are many online resources that are free (youtube for one has many instructional videos and the chess dot com site is great as well).

  • 7 years ago


    Thanks so much for posting this story. I am a chess coach at two of my sons' schools and I showed the video to our elementary club today, all 40 members thought it rocked!


    Now to read the book and hope the movie turns out well.

  • 7 years ago


    The links are working ok for me.  Perhaps it was a temporary blip.

  • 7 years ago


    the links are broken?

  • 7 years ago


    Thanks for the info, Amy! Smile

  • 7 years ago


    I.S. 318 figures prominently in the book Game of Kings by Michael Weinreb.  Although the book is mainly about Brooklyn's Edward R. Murrow High School chess team, I.S. 318 is also given its due.

    I didn't expect to like this book.  I mean, how interesting could the chess lives of teenagers really be?  As it turns out, very interesting indeed.  It was this book that sparked my interest in scholastic chess, although since I live in the western US, I tend to follow more closely the fortunes of the Catalina Foothills High School team from Tucson, Arizona.  Catalina Foothills has also been National Champion several times.

    For more information, check out the I.S. 318 Chess Team website:

    You also might want to check out the blog of I.S. 318's redoubtable (and somewhat controversial) Elizabeth Vicary, who was featured in the video clip above.  Here's a link to her site:


    PS. The video site refers to the book Game of Kings as The Kings of New York.  They are the same book.  The Kings of New York was the original title.

  • 7 years ago


    @ patzer24 - I don't have any more info, but there might be more at the links. Erik alerted me to the story. Cool

  • 7 years ago


    wow, this looks like a really interesting project! Any idea when this film will be produced and ready for viewing?

  • 7 years ago


    _valentin_, do you think the filmmakers are doing it for the benefit of the school or for their own benefit?  I've been in the industry long enough to know that most people that work on documentaries don't care much for their subject.  A small film like this will not likely raise much money for the school through awareness.  There's better methods to going about that.

  • 7 years ago


    The difference between raising money for a film versus raising money for their own school championship is the same difference as illustrated by the famous saying:

    "Give a man fish and feed him for a day.  Teach a man to fish, and feed him for a lifetime."

    If they create a film about it, it will raise awareness nationwide (because the film can be shown in many places multiple times), and many more schools can then have the documentation necessary to raise funds in their own districts, and thus lift many more students.

    In contrast, if they raise money for their school's chess program, the money will be gone before long and they'll be back to square one with on lasting effect on anyone.

  • 7 years ago


    Since I have a career on both sides of this coin (I'm both an Indie Filmmaker/School Chess Instructor) I found this article to be of great interest.  Why, though, are these filmmakers raising money to make a film about the story, and not raising money to keep the program going?  I'm all for raising awareness for a good cause, but it seems that someone doesn't have their priorities straight in this case.

  • 7 years ago

    FM BecomeanIM

    sheardp thats funny you say that. it seems like your actually right :)

    the city should host a wide tournament or event to help the school out, it doesn't sound that unusual.

  • 7 years ago


    I taught elementary school children in Harlem from 1968 till 1978, primarily in Public School 121 which was located in the middle of a low income housing project.

    In my second year of teaching in that school, teachers were encouraged to initiate some extracurricular activity; I decided to set up a "chess workshop" designed to attract the children to the game and teach them the rudiments.

    I was given a section of the corridor on the main floor, and got busy designing a good-sized colorful demonstration board.  I also brought in the largest chess set I could find.

    During the initial "chess week," which I hoped would be expanded much further, many of the kids were attracted to the site where they were given a very basic explanation of the game.They were then taken to a classroom  for further explanation and instruction. A total of about 40 children  sat through all the sessions, and eventually three of them showed a very keen interest in continuing to learn.

    Unfortunately, there weren't the variety of instructional resources then that exist today, and the district supervisor was not all that enthusiastic about helping out. The three children did not particularly like each other for various reasons, so they weren't willing to play against each other. I reluctantly abandoned the workshop, and only hope that the three of them have found their way into the world of chess. 

  • 7 years ago


    i can't wait to see the movie.....

  • 7 years ago


    I always wondered how this school in a relatively 'bad' neighborhood was able to create such a strong chess team. I played there not so many years ago. Awesome players. Mine was intending to beat them, thats pretty much when i started playing. I hope things go well for them. Cheers

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