Young Girl Becomes Chess Champion After Learning How to Play Less Than a Year Ago

Mariangel Vargas joined her school's chess club after she and her family arrived to the U.S. from Colombia.

A young girl went from having never played chess to becoming a champion of the game in less than a year.

Mariangel Vargas and her family came to the U.S. from Colombia last fall and now live in New York City.

The fifth grader joined a chess club at her new school, which is run by the organization, a Gift of Chess. Over 200 migrant children are part of the non-profit’s program.

“You know, the game of chess, they call it the great equalizer. When you play the game, what matters is how good you are over the board,” Gift of Chess founder Russell Makofsky said.

“I like chess porque es muy divertido,” said the young chess genius, which means, "because it's very fun."

Makofsky has taught chess to some communities in Africa, people in prison, and in schools. 

“Seeing these kids have opportunities that they might not otherwise have. Seeing them with a smile on their face when they win and seeing them reach their potential,” Makofsky said.

Related Stories