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7th Grade Chess Champ Practiced At The Barbershop


Baltimore has a new hero - Cahree Myrick. He's 12 years old and the first national youth chess champion that that city has ever had. Two weeks ago in Nashville, he won a perfect score, 7-0. He took his division at the U.S. Chess Federation SuperNationals. Cahree Myrick joins us on the line now from Baltimore. Congratulations. Thanks for being with us.

CAHREE MYRICK: Thank you. It's been a big opportunity for me to just being able to go there and do what I had to do.

SIMON: Where'd you learn chess?

CAHREE: I learned at my elementary school, The Green School of Baltimore. My chess coach taught me there.

SIMON: Why did you take up chess? What interested you?

CAHREE: Well, I was in first grade, and I just liked the way the pieces looked. And then I told my mom about it, and she just signed me up.

SIMON: Oh, that's wonderful. Now I'm told you've played many games for practice in the back of a barbershop there in Baltimore.

CAHREE: Yes. Well, I learned how to play at my elementary school, then I just go on and play at my barbershop.

SIMON: People whose names you can share with us?

CAHREE: Yes, my barber, Sundiata and the other barbers that are in there - Adwalia (ph).

SIMON: These are adults, right?


SIMON: Think they were giving you any breaks? Probably not.

CAHREE: No, they played me like I was any other customer.

SIMON: Yeah. Can you tell us the moves that you made in Nashville that were particularly - I'm afraid I don't know much about chess. But people listening who know about chess might be impressed.

CAHREE: My opening that I play is the Scandinavian, but that's on black. And I think I was black my last winning game. The Scandinavian is an opening on black when the queen's pawn is pushed up two squares.

SIMON: Now you're a seventh-grader at the Roland Park Middle School.


SIMON: Do you get kidded about being the chess champ?

CAHREE: No. Actually a lot of people think it's cool. And a lot of my friends actually try to play me even though none of them know how to actually play.

SIMON: (Laughter) Well, you do have that advantage, don't you?


SIMON: Cahree, there's been some thinking over the years that young people who excel at chess find that that spills over into other areas of their studies and their schoolwork. Have you found that?

CAHREE: Yes. I think that chess is a lot like what I do in math because it takes a lot of problem-solving...

SIMON: Yeah.

CAHREE: ...And strategy and you have to think way before - ahead before you start to make your plan.

SIMON: So you think it's helped you in planning, organization, that sort of thing?

CAHREE: Yeah, and everything is just being focused in school because in order to be successful, you absolutely need to know how to focus.

SIMON: You're 12 years old - any idea what you want to be when you're an adult?

CAHREE: Well, chess-wise I want to become a grandmaster, but in - otherwise I don't actually know yet.

SIMON: Yeah, what interests you in school or in life?

CAHREE: I like math and engineering. I took a lot of engineering summer camps, and that really interests me a lot.

SIMON: I have to ask, I mean, you follow the Orioles?

CAHREE: Yes. We're going to the Orioles today.

SIMON: Are you really?

CAHREE: I actually get to play some of the players on the team.

SIMON: Play chess?


SIMON: Oh, you ought to beat their orange behinds.

CAHREE: (Laughter) Maybe.


SIMON: Well, we spoke to Cahree Myrick yesterday afternoon, and he played some of the Orioles players, including Manny Machado and Jonathan Schoop. He trounced them, handily.


SIMON: Your move. This is NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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