The boys from Nellie Stone School are getting ready to do it again.
Last year they were the state middle school champs and finished second in the country in the unrated (translate rookie) division of the United States Chess Federation national tournament . Two of the boys, Cheng Xiong and Ismael Mendez-Perez, finished fifth and sixth respectively in the country.
Everything was new to them last year. They had never played in a major tournament. Then math teacher Leif Neilsen brought together a combination of resources from throughout the twin cities and built a team. The YMCA, through their Beacons Program, provided transportation and a second coach. Minneapolis Chess, an area nonprofit, provided additional training and funding. The Castle Chess Club in Northeast Minneapolis provided one-on-one mentoring.