Congratulations to our P.S. 139 Chess Ninjas on their performance at the March 11-12, 2017 NY State Scholastic Chess Championship!

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PS 139 Chess Ninjas at Grade Nationals

December 4-6th representatives of PS 139’s Chess Ninjas travelled to Orlando, Florida to compete in the Grade Nationals tournament. Eight Chess Ninjas competed in multiple rounds of chess throughout the weekend and returned to Brooklyn with impressive victories. The Third Grade team placed 8th in the nation! Grade 3 players were: Emma Adams, Ayushma Rai, Maya Emert-Wiggins, and Ellis Wong (who also brought home a trophy as the 20th place third grader in the country!). The Fifth Grade team placed 10th in the nation! Grade 5 players were: Robbie Galpern Levin, Aowyn Schneider, Sonam Sherpa, and Tashi Sherpa.

PS 139 is proud of its chess club. The Ninjas owe their success to their hard work and love for the game, to their coach, Ian West, who respects and cultivates their intelligence and abilities, and to their families who commit their energies to supporting the team and PS 139 overall.

Congratulations, Ninjas!




Preparing between rounds with Coach West


Grades 2         Grades 3

Third grade team–8th place                            Fifth grade team–1oth place

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Chess Ninjas at Grade Nationals                                                                                              With Coach West



Proud and happy Ninjas!



PS 139 Chess Ninjas–Nationals!!

PS 139 Chess Ninjas participated in nearly 20 tournaments this year–locally throughout New York City, in Saratoga Springs for the NY State Championship, and nationally in Chicago, Illinois and Nashville, Tennessee!

We are proud of their hard work and achievements. These kids learn valuable life skills in chess club and at tournaments. They learn to think and plan for several moves ahead, to view the whole board (the wider context) and smaller areas of the board (focus). They learn patience and discipline. They learn to concentrate and delay gratification. They learn about fair play, and how to recover from a loss and continue on. They learn how to work as a team. And in the words of one second grader, they learn “to think hard while having fun!”

The Ninjas are especially fortunate to be coached by Mr. Ian West, who is dedicated to helping them learn and love the game of chess, and guides them through those important lessons mentioned above. He is treasured and respected by the kids and their families.

2015 Girls National Chess Tournament, Chicago, Illinois

Under 8: First place–left to right: Maya Emert-Wiggins, Polly Morrow, Emma Adams, Ayushma Rai with coach Ian West



Under 10: 6th place–Vivian Gore, Aowyn Schneider, Ariana Winawer-Stein



2015 Chess Nationals, Nashville, Tennessee

 K-3 Under 800–19th place–Nevin Swanson, Bea Rush, Declan Lutton-Seignoret, Maya Emmert-Wiggins, Polly Morrow, Emma Adams (not pictured) with Coach Ian West and National Tournament Director

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 K-5 under 900 -4th place –Emmet Duprey, Brian Thevenot, Vivian Gore, Sonam Sherpa, Ariana Winawer Stein, Alexander Pierre, Ryan Reddish, Aowyn Schneider with Coach West



K-5 under 900- tied for 35th place– Aowyn Schneider, Alexander Pierre Joy, Ryan Reddish, Emmet Duprey

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 K-5 Open-18th place–standing: Tashi Sherpa, Robbie Galpern Levin, Michelle Muniz.  front row: Ellis Wong, Ayushma Rai,



                                            2015 National Team                                                                      




Research suggests that chess increases standardized math and reading scores, improves problem-solving and critical thinking skills, and enhances memory and verbal reasoning. The benefits of playing chess are not limited to the following:

  • Develops self-esteem
  • Increases concentration and focus
  • Promotes delayed gratification
  • Teaches sportsmanship
  • Fosters emotional intelligence
  • Enhances social development

In 2007, PS 139 created a full-time in-house chess program. This comprehensive program reaches the entire school population. Every child in the school receives chess instruction in their classrooms, from K through 5th grade. Our chess teacher is Ian West.

The program is structured so that Mr. West works with the upper grades (4th & 5th) in the fall, the middle grades (2nd & 3rd) in the spring, and then finishes the year with the lower grades (K & 1st) in the springtime.

PS 139 also has a rigorous after-school program, which meets three days a week, from dismissal until 5pm. The Chess Club is a competitive team training program. Most of the kids in the after-school program go on some weekends to compete in the local scholastic tournament circuit. The club participates in three big events each year: the Grade Nationals in Orlando in December, the State Championships in Saratoga Springs in February, and the National Elementary Championship in May. Players compete on all levels, usually in sections of 50 or more teams. The Chess Ninjas routinely finish in the top ten and have won first place in tournaments through the years.