POV: Brooklyn Castle

POV: Brooklyn Castle

Monday, October 7 at 10:00 p.m.

Imagine a school where the cool kids are the chess team.

Welcome to I.S. 318.

“Brooklyn Castle” tells the stories of five members of the chess team at a below-the-poverty-line inner city junior high school that has won more national championships than any other in the country.

The film follows the challenges these kids face in their personal lives — and on the chessboard — and is as much about the sting of their losses as it is about anticipation of their victories.

Beginning in 2000, under the tutelage of chess teacher and coach Elizabeth Spiegel and assistant principal and chess coordinator John Galvin, I.S. 318 expanded its small chess program and began competing in national tournaments.

For those keeping score, the results have been stunning: more than 30 national chess titles, including, in 2012, the U.S. High School National Championship, a first for a junior high.

“Brooklyn Castle” goes behind the scenes to reveal the inspirational effect of the chess team’s success on the entire student body. In achieving the improbable, the “chess nuts” of I.S. 318 are expanding the possibilities for themselves and for disadvantaged students like them. As they are quick to point out, if the late Albert Einstein, an avid chess player, were on this team, he would rank fourth. By filmmaker Katie Dellamaggiore.

Top photo: The Brooklyn Castle chess team.
At right: 12-year-old team member, Pobo.