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54th Street Elementary School Takes 3rd Place in Chess Tourney

54th Street Elementary School Won 3rd Place at the Chess Tutors 12th Annual Grand Match Gala (GMG) Tournament of Champions, held at the University of Southern California (USC). The GMG is an end of the elementary school year invitation only event wherein the best players from all of the Chess Tutor after school programs compete for individual trophies and medals as well as the coveted GMG Team Championship.

The nearly 300 entrants and their participating schools hailed from several LA metro districts including: Beverly Hills Unified, Burbank, Culver City, El Segundo, Hermosa Beach, Inglewood, Lakewood, La Mirada, LA Unified, Long Beach, Manhattan Beach, Redondo Beach, Torrance and Wiseburn Unified, as well as several charter and private schools.

Most of the participating schools have been a part of the Chess Tutor program for many years—and have several seasoned chess players to show for it. For this reason, the 54th Street Elementary School students’ third place finish is all the more remarkable, given this was the school’s very first year in the Chess Tutor program. Indeed, only a handful of their students had ever played chess before the program arrived.

Despite facing considerably more experienced players, this spirited team of young upstarts never wavered. They supported and encouraged each other throughout the long and arduous rounds of the tourney. 54th Street Elementary School powered their way into the top placements led by stellar performances from: 1st grader Jonathan Lee with a perfect score of 9-0-0 (9 wins, 0 losses and 0 draws); 4th grader Amiri Obaid (7-0-2); 3rd grader Uleses Henderson (5-0-1); 2nd grader Kade Clark (5-0-0) and 5th graders William Lee (5-0-1), Bryan Garcia (4-0-1) and Idris Enigbokan (4-3-0) placing 1st, 2nd & 3rd respectively in the 5th grade division. Other notable performers were 3rd grader Kiros Nzuriwatu (3-0-0); Vince Avery (4-2-1) and 4th grader Alexander Naranjo (3-2-1). In the 12 years of the GMG Tourney, theirs was truly an unprecedented team performance.

Coach Derek Richardson, a 19 year veteran NBA Referee and Executive Director of the Why Can’t We Make a Difference Foundation, (WCWMADF) in coordination with 54th Street Elementary School Principal Haywood Thompson, sponsored the Chess Tutors program for the entire 54th Street Elementary School student body. The goal of the Why Can’t We Make A Difference Foundation is to increase students’ academic and emotional interest in school through academic and social enrichment programs for elementary students in underserved school communities of Los Angeles. WCWMADF uses chess as one of many tools to help meet the desired outcome of its program. The Why Can’t We Make a Difference motto is, “We are here to serve!” (Photo Credit: Charles Ryan Photographer)

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