Left to right: Eliot Weiss, Oscar Santana, Shawn Martinez, Sal Bercys, Ilya Kotlyanskiy, Nile Smith, Alex Lenderman, Dalphe Morantus, Willy Edgard.
Winner of the Quill Award for Best Sports Book of 2007
New York Times Editors’ Choice
Publishers Weekly Best Breakout Book of 2007
Amazon.com Editors’ Pick: Top 10 Nonfiction Books of 2007
Named One of the Best Books of 2007 by The Christian Science Monitor, Metro (UK), The Sunday Tribune (Ireland), and PBS Frontline/World.
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“In this thrilling, vigorously reported, deeply empathic book, Michael Weinreb…brings to vivid life a contemporary chess world suffused with its own updated version of nerd machismo.”
–The New York Times Book Review
“Fascinating… [GAME OF KINGS] does for high school chess what Buzz Bissinger’s 1991 bestseller, Friday Night Lights, did for high school football.” –USA Today
“Writing with the deft, propulsive style of a young Frank Deford, Michael Weinreb has captured both the intellectual insanity — and the curious normalcy — of what it’s like to be a teenaged super-genius.” —Chuck Klosterman, author of Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs
Brooklyn’s Edward R. Murrow High School is one of New York’s public education success stories: a charter school that serves a diverse neighborhood of immigrants and minorities and ranks among the nation’s best high schools. At Murrow, there are no sports teams except for an unconventional group of kids that make up the school’s powerhouse chess team.
An award-winning, critically-acclaimed sports book as unconventional as the chess kids it features, GAME OF KINGS: A Year Among the Oddballs and Geniuses Who Make Up America’s Top High School Chess Team (Gotham paperback; January 2, 2008) by sportswriter Michael Weinreb follows the members of the Murrow chess team through an entire season—from cash games in Washington Square Park to the SuperNationals in Nashville, where the scrappy team goes up against the country’s best. Along the way, Weinreb chronicles their lives so far, their rise toward maturity and adulthood, and their discovery of new and different worlds, all through their participation in (and at times, addiction to) a sport that has long been stigmatized as a refuge for hyper-intelligent social misfits.
Within the idiosyncratic team he discovers the calculus teacher (and former semipro hockey player) who guides the savants while struggling to find funding for his team; an aspiring rapper and tournament hustler who plays with cutthroat instinct; the team’s lone girl, a shy Ukrainian immigrant; the Puerto Rican teen from the rough neighborhood of Bedford-Stuyvesant who plays ingenious opening gambit named “The Orangutan;” and the Lithuanian immigrant and team star whose chess rating is climbing toward grandmaster status.
An inspiration to aspiring geniuses and students everywhere, GAME OF KINGS illuminates an inner-city school whose chess team succeeds against all odds.
New York Magazine profile of Murrow High School.
New York Times newsbrief about Murrow’s 2006 national championship
New York Times, 1993: Soviet Collapse Is Chess Bonanza in Brooklyn
Gothamist: All Hail the Chess Kings at Murrow
New York Magazine: The Murrow chess team shows up in the approval matrix
A terrific read…Weinreb melds history lessons with thumbnail sketches of an unusual cast of characters: the young players themselves, the adult talent who nurtured their love of chess, and the different donors who – for various reasons of their own – have kept these programs afloat. The result is a book that reads like a Robert Altman film – quick cuts of quirky, intertwined story lines.–Marjorie Kehe, The Christian Science Monitor
Word for sentence, sentence for paragraph, paragraph for page, (Kings) is one of the most readable books about chess ever written.-Dr. Frank Brady, Chess Life magazine
Weinreb makes several choices that work well for a year-in-the-life account….All this is supported by well-chosen detail, intelligence and terrific writing. Weinreb clearly develops an affection for the eclectic members of the team, and because of the skill he brings to his project, so will his readers.–Publishers Weekly (starred review)
A fascinating subculture sensitively brought to light, along with some troubling questions.–Kirkus Reviews
The book’s strength lies in Weinreb’s detailed exploration into the uncharmed lives of a motley bunch of immigrant, hip-hop-listening child geniuses who rely on this curious sub-culture as a means of expression and distraction.—UK Observer Sport Monthly
The Kings of New York by Michael Weinreb is much the best book in the Sportsbooks in-tray at the moment, and I would rather write about a good book that may or may not be about sport than a book which is definitely about sport but which is also definitely pants.—UK Telegraph
Weinreb writes well, in the way that many American sportswriters do: a muscular and highbrow style, driven by the drama of the event without sacrificing a sardonic, wise-guy tone. It is a template for good, manly prose and, in Weinreb’s hands, makes for a smart and stylish read.—UK Telegraph
Weinreb finds plenty of drama in how the inner city team achieved hitherto unparalleled success over the past decade, despite a serious lack of funding.—Metro (UK)
Fascinating.—Word of Sport (UK)