Rochelle Ballantyne: The World’s 1st Black Female Chess Master

Rochelle Ballantyne is poised to become the world’s first African American chess master. She is featured in the documentary, Brookln’s Castle.

Brooklyn Castle is a documentary about a team of unlikely middle school chess players, and in the film a star is born, Rochelle Ballantyne, 17, who is poised to becomethe world’s first black female chess master.

Ballantyne’s late grandmother introduced her to chess, and encouraged the teen to become a chess master.

“When I first started playing, she introduced to me the idea of being the first African-American female chess master. I didn’t think about it much because for me it seemed like an impossible feat, and I didn’t think it could happen. I wasn’t as focused and dedicated as I am now. I didn’t think I was a good chess player — people told me I was, but it wasn’t my mentality at that moment. But then after she died, that really affected me, because she was the one person that always had confidence in me. She never pushed me, and she always respected me for who I was. I have to reach that goal for her.”

Zondra Hughes

Deputy Editor, Rolling Out





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