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.