ABOVE PHOTO: Rochelle Ballantyne plays Eli Bush as Patrick, another star of the film, looks on at the SoHo House.
(via Brooklyn Castle)
NEW YORK — Rochelle Ballentyne, 17, is just a few wins away from becoming the first female African-American chess master. The Brooklyn native is featured in the documentary Brooklyn Castle, which chronicles the lives of teen chess players in Brooklyn, NY.
Ballentyne, who was raised in a single-parent home in East Flatbush, was introduced to chess by her grandmother. In an interview with Teen Vogue magazine, Ballentyne recalled her grandmother’s influence: “My grandmother.
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.”
The precocious teen says she has applied to college: “I really want to go to the University of Pennsylvania or Stanford. I applied through QuestBridge, which is a scholarship program that has a partnership with those schools.”
Ballentyne will be participating in the 2012 World Youth Chess Championships to be held in Maribor, Slovenia from November 7 – 19, according to The United States Chess Federation.