Success Academy Scholars Dominate NYS’s 1st-Ever Girls Chess Championship

Success Academy students Emily Booncharoen and Pari Patni win first and second place in the K-6 championship; their team, Success Academy Hudson Yards, places first.

NEW YORK, NY — Success Academy students Emily Booncharoen and Pari Patni took home the top two spots for the K-6 championship division in New York State’s first ever Girls Chess Championship this past weekend. Their team, Success Academy Hudson Yards, placed first in the division.

SA Bronx 1 Middle School won 2nd place for the K-6 Under 900 division. Credit: Success Academy

The inaugural tournament was held at the New Explorations into Science, Technology, and Mathematics public school, or NEST+M, on the Lower East Side. Five Success Academy teams and 27 players attended the tournament, which had a total of 251 players participating.

Emily and Pari are the product of four years of training in the Success Academy chess program, which has a record of developing top chess players and teams. The program has placed a particular emphasis on cultivating female chess players, who are significantly underrepresented in the sport.

“We are committed to closing the gender gap in chess,” says Sean O’Hanlon, director of Success Academy chess program. “In our elementary schools, all scholars take chess as part of the curriculum, and girls demonstrate as much interest in class as the boys do. We proactively recruit them to the chess club when we see the talent. Once they are part of a team and traveling to tournaments, they fall in love with the sport and with competing.”

It was thanks to this proactive recruitment strategy that Emily and Pari began playing on their school team and discovered they had great talent. Approximately 9,000 SA students receive chess instruction starting in kindergarten. In third grade, select scholars join clubs that participate in 100 internal and external tournaments each year.

The network works hard to encourage its female players, bringing the top-rated girls to the National Girls Championship in Chicago each year. Emily and Pari will be traveling to that tournament next week with their team, along with 21 female players from across the Success Academy network.

SA Harlem 1 won 4th place for K-3 Under 600. Credit: Success Academy

Success Academy wins at the tournament include:

K-6 Championship division:

Individual: Emily Booncharoen, 1st place; Pari Patni, 2nd place; Ann Goldey, 7th place (SA Hudson Yards); Isis Diaz, 12th place (SA Bronx 1).

Team: SA Hudson Yards, 1st place

K-12 Championship division: Nura Balla, 10th place (SA Hudson Yards)

K-12 Under 1200: Rachel Prizant, 10th place (SA Hudson Yards)

K-6 Under 900

Individual: Angelina Nguyen, 2nd place (SA Bronx 1); Alma Ahmia, 4th place (SA Washington Heights)

Team: SA Bronx 1, 2nd place; SA Washington Heights, 3rd place

K-3 Under 600: SA Harlem 1, 4th place

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