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I.S. 318 is a below-the-poverty-line inner city junior high school.  And its students have won more national chess championships than any other in the country.  So this is a touching and inspiring story of triumph and what can be accomplished in spite of the most daunting of obstacles if there is someone who believes in you.  And it is a story of the joys of intellectual passion and a game that goes back centuries, even in an era of saturation in digital media. There is much of what you expect — gifted kids, dedicated teacher, tense anticipation, thrilling victories.  The characters are endearing and their stories are stirring.

This movie is also frank about the vulnerability of these programs.  We see so much that is made possible by so little, and how fragile even that little can be.  These children have endless spirit, skill, and devotion.  They can solve complex mathematical puzzles that involve intricate, multi-step strategies.  But the adults around them may not be able to show the same level of commitment or ability to think ahead to enable these kids to continue to benefit from the chess program.

Parents should know that this film includes the portrayal of children in difficult circumstances and some schoolyard language.

Family discussion: What do you have to be good at to succeed in chess?  What makes this chess program so important to the kids?

If you like this try: “Mad Hot Ballroom” and “Searching for Bobby Fischer” — and try a game of chess!

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