Rochelle Ballantyne on #GirlsCan

Rochelle Ballantyne
Photo from LinkedIn.

In conjunction with Cover Girl, there was a beautiful interview done by Soledad O’Brien on Rochelle Ballantyne, a student at Stanford University. She is better known as chess player on the “Brooklyn Castle” fame and a successful student at Brooklyn Tech.

Now as a Stanford student she has evolved into a young woman with bigger goals and aspirations. Besides her interest in civil rights law, she has one goal that has been constant… earning the title of U.S. chess master and thus becoming the first African-American female to do so. She is currently rated 2038, but has been as high as 2127. Rochelle is still active and recently played in the U.S. Open in Phoenix, Arizona. She last graced this website before heading to the World Youth Championships in the United Arab Emirates.

The 8:49 minute interview took the viewer into the life of Rochelle as she explained her humble beginnings and her first chess lesson from her beloved grandmother, who is now deceased. She was in one of the most active cities in the country and cut her teeth on tournaments at the Marshall Chess Club and at the stiff competitions throughout her scholastic years. A video team shadowed her at the historic Millionaire Chess Open and followed her progress.

Rochelle at the 2014 Millionaire Chess Open in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

However, it has not been easy to ascend to the level of master. With the demands of her studies and scarce resources to invest in chess advancement, it has been a difficult task. This video is a poignant look at the challenges of three demographic variables… gender, race and class. It may become quite a story if Rochelle achieves her ultimate dream, but certainly she will have her share of accomplishments to come. Enjoy!

Daaim Shabazz

Daaim Shabazz is the founder of The Chess Drum, while serving as a tenured faculty member of Global Business & Marketing at Florida A&M University in Tallahassee, Florida, USA. He holds a B.S. Computer Science from Chicago State University, an MBA in Marketing and a Ph.D. in International Affairs & Development, both from Clark Atlanta University. He has served the journalist community for more than 30 years and still competes in tournaments occasionally.

16 Comments

      1. Lionel,

        The person who sent the above message was not sent from Stanford University, but it was sent from a San Francisco location associated with an upscale retail store. Not sure why someone at that location is asking about Rochelle’s personal affairs. Nevertheless, Rochelle is deserving of any support she gets.

  1. Beautiful story and I hope she realizes her dream. Daaim, not sure it was even necessary to respond to that comment. No value was added. And I am pretty sure he will not follow up to your response. Similar top notch Blogs usually just ignores knucklehead comments or questions..

    1. Well… for legal reasons, I had to go and look at the video again because the person posting had the name “Stanford Chess”. I was not sure if there could be any violation that would endanger Rochelle so I removed the reference. However, I traced the IP address to a specific location and it was not from Stanford. The server and domain was traced to a retail company who owned the network (with five nodes) from where the message was sent.

  2. I checked with my legal folks and there’s no worries here @ all. But I understand you looking out for Rochelle.

    1. It is my hope that she does not put so much pressure on herself. I believe it was “RJT” who made a suggestion about her focusing on Stanford first. Perhaps it goes like this: focus on Stanford… enjoy the experience… continue playing chess without pressure… take LSAT… apply to law school… accept offer and defer enrollment… graduate from Stanford… take a year break in between degree and law school… travel and focus on getting the title. It is not that easy, but plan your work and work your plan. I hope that she will approach and talk to Alisa Melekhina. Finances are of course an issue.

    1. LOL!!! Good Point Daaim , my post wuz about Rochelle! it will take time to adjust from Traditionalism/ WHITE MANNISH CHESS as was suggested in the video to true ULTRAMODERNISM, I write funnyer than the traditionalist and move my knights FUNNiER 2! LOL ! Any Rochelle games available? DEUECES. oh i almost forgot Um at the BUFFALO PUBLIC LIBRARY checkin yall out! DEUCES.

  3. Great Job Rochelle. I leave in the bay and I hope to follow your stats and watch your dreams of making Masters a reality. I am asking everyone I know to post your story because Media is very slow. Also a gofund might work out to help fund some of the tournaments.

  4. Rochelle: A Black Magic Marker, A Thumbtack, A White Posterboard and write I AM THE FIRST AFRICAN AMERICAN FEMALE MASTER and just start being so, its an ole ULTRAMODERN TRICK, after the U.S.C.F. gave me the masters title in 1988 i wrote : I AM THE STRONGEST AFRICAN AMERICAN CHESSPLAYER IN THE WORLD and started living it so thats who i am today at the BUFFALO PUBLIC LIBRARY RIGHT NOW, IN REAL LIFE. Now u KNOW see how easy it is? Adia?

  5. Interesting article. I hope she fulfills her dream. Chess let me fulfill mine. However, the press seems to be taking liberties. The claim was that she went 4-2, gained 40 points and won 895 dollars. On the USCF page it shows her 3-4 with 4 rating points lost. I don’t think this won any money. As Lasker said, lies do not last on the chessboard.

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