The Kings of New York (Yellow Jersey)
Chess attracts both child prodigies and general oddballs, both of which can be found in abundance in this well-constructed and intriguing book about American’s top high school chess team. The Edward R Murrow School in Brooklyn is an experimental, hippyish institution where kids are allowed to cut classes, but which boasts an incredibly successful chess team. Unlike posher private schools, Murrow’s team is full of underprivileged kids from a cross-section of backgrounds, and Michael Weinreb tailed them for a couple of years as they went about the business of hammering all opposition into submission.
Weinreb is a fine sports writer, and does well at getting inside the heads of these outsiders and geeks, working out the motivations and psychology of some incredibly gifted youngsters. Having said that, the book loses its way a tad in the middle, before the big finale of the American Supernationals tournament ratchets up the tension at the end.