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17 Year-Old Rochelle Ballantyne Poised To Become First African American Female Chess Master

17 year-old Rochelle Ballantyne is on the brink of making history.

Should she win matches during next month’s World Youth Chess Championships in Slovenia, she will become the first African American female chess master.

Ballentyne, who is from Brooklyn, learned to play chess from her grandmother:

Ballantyne, who was raised in a single-parent home in East Flatbush, was introduced to chess by her grandmother. In an interview with Teen Vogue magazine, Ballentyne recalled her grandmother’s influence: “My grandmother. When I first started playing, she introduced to me the idea of being the first African-American female chess master. I didn’t think about it much because for me it seemed like an impossible feat, and I didn’t think it could happen. I wasn’t as focused and dedicated as I am now. I didn’t think I was a good chess player—people told me I was, but it wasn’t my mentality at that moment. But then after she died, that really affected me, because she was the one person that always had confidence in me. She never pushed me, and she always respected me for who I was. I have to reach that goal for her.”

Read more at The Weissman Report.

Ballantyne is the star of the upcoming documentary, Brooklyn Castle.

Hats off to you, Rochelle.

Best of luck from the BYP!