Rochelle Ballantyne poised to become first Black woman chess master
(New York Daily News / Getty)
Listen to this article here
The Black Wall Street Times

Sign-Up for a free subscription to The Black Wall Street Timesdaily newsletter, Black Editors’ Edition (BEE) – our curated news selections & opinions by us for you.

New York University law student Rochelle Ballantyne is on her way to becoming the first Black woman American chess master.

Ballantyne, 26, says she has been trying to earn the title of chess master for the past 10 years.

“I’ve been trying to get it for the past 10 years,” said Ballantyne.

“First and foremost, it’s for my grandma,” Ballantyne told Reuters, whose late grandmother taught her the game when she was eight years old to calm “a really rowdy kid.”

“Secondly, there’s so many more black girls, little black girls playing chess now, and it’s so cool to inspire them.”

Back in 2012, Ballantyne was the lone female star of “Brooklyn Castle,” a documentary about a chess program at a low-income middle school in New York City.

YouTube video

200 Points Away From Chess Master

Ballantyne is less than 50 points away from being ranked as an expert, currently sitting at 1962 points. To get to chess master, she will need to acquire another 250 points at tournament play.

“So, at expert you’re at 2000 rating points and at master you’re at 2200. So I have to get the 200 points to get to master, essentially,” said Ballantyne.

St. Louis Chess Club executive director Tony Rich thinks it’s likely Ballantyne will reach the master level by summertime.

Ballantyne doesn’t feel any pressure being a trailblazer and usually the only Black woman in the room.

“I think it’s a product of the game. Chess isn’t very accessible for people who look like me and for people who come from the same background that I do.”

“It’s because I’m Black and it’s because I’m a girl that people think it’s so impressive and it’s not,” said Ballantyne. “I’m just a girl who loves this game and there are other people who are good at it too.”

Mike Creef is a fighter for equality and justice for all. Growing up bi-racial (Jamaican-American) on the east coast allowed him to experience many different cultures and beliefs that helped give him a...