Jerald Times, director of chess at a New York charter school network, uses the stats to show that being a chess grandmaster might not be as lucrative as brain surgery, but it is harder to achieve.
The chess teacher’s network hasn’t produced a grandmaster yet, but New York schools have long generated a talent pool for champions and grandmasters. Aleksandr Lenderman, 29, is one of the chess grandmasters who attended a New York City public school.
Lenderman is slight and boyish and loves baseball. He also has one of the rare analytical brains that allowed him to become one of the top chess players in the world. He learned the game at age 10 from his German grandfather. Most whizzes now start much younger. His family isn’t wealthy, and in high school he couldn’t afford the elite private coaches that players of his caliber typically hire, but Lenderman still joined the chess elite.
His current FIDE rating (the World Chess standard for measuring players) is 2654, ranking him 10th in the United States and 97th in the world.
In high school in Brooklyn, Lenderman helped lead his public-school team to multiple national chess championships. Author Michael Weinreb captured that story in his book Game of Kings: A Year Among the Oddballs and Geniuses Who Make Up America’s Top High School Chess Team.