Checkmate! PS 77 Chess Club plays from the heart and wins championships

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“It’s kind of like you’re playing war!” Reid Segarra said.

Reid Segarra is only in Kindergarten but his chess skills are far beyond his years.

"You have to practice and there’s also like these puzzles and that’s how you get better,” he explained.

He's just one of the many bright little minds on the team at P.S. 77, the Lower Lab School.

“When I first got into Lower Lab I found out I really had a good chess team,” Benjamin Kwon, a six year old, said.

How good?

“I won four games that made us win 1st place in the K-1 Championships," Rylan Marinis smiled.

You're looking at the New York State and National Champions. They took hope first in the National K-12 Grade Championships (1st Grade champions), New York State Scholastic Championships (K-1 Championship, state champions) and the National Elementary Championship (K-1 Championship national champions).

“Yeah we’re actually the best K-1 team in the in the world,” Reid said.

Web extra: Parents express excitement for seeing their kids happy and successful

“This is unique, coming into the year, I knew we had a shot at nationals but I didn’t know anything like this would happen,” Logan Brain said.

Logan Brain has been coaching these kids for nearly two years.

“I see a love of the game, they’re obviously extremely bright and I think the two go together,” he explained.

“You need to concentrate, you need to pay attention, to think and we have patience,” Noah Gillston said.

Skills their parents have noticed.

“Royal is a very active kid, I actually got some complaints from teachers, but he can sit in chess for three hours straight," Li Xiao, one of the kids' mother, said. "That’s actually very comforting.”

Whats not as comforting, losing to a six year old!

“He’s starting to beat me now, which you know he’s going to get grounded later for beating me but right now I’ll continue to let him exceed,” Seth Gillston laughed.

And their moves? Making friends and playing with heart!

“I mean this is a special group, they’re all best friends and I really don’t think they play for me or for themselves, they really play for each other," Peter Marinas smiled.


Produced by: Kim Pestalozzi