Aspiring chess master Janell Warner ready to shine

Graduates from Brandeis!

Janell Warner posted pictures on social media about her graduation from Brandeis University and stated, “so happy to be surrounded by so much love and support.” Certainly, family and friends were on hand to celebrate the event, but the chess community can also celebrate. This is yet another example of how chess continues to help provide a successful platform for higher learning.

Janell Warner graduates from Brandeis University!
Janell Warner celebrates graduation from Brandeis University.
Photo from Janell Warner (Facebook)

Janell told The Chess Drum that she was a Black Studies major with a history minor, but also plans to pursue issues pertaining to health and wellness. Of course, mental and physical health are critical factors, particularly in the Black community, where chronic diseases have ravaged families. With the growing cases of social unrest and rash of gun violence, it appears she has chosen wisely.

Starting chess at age 10, Janell had initial struggles but kept working on her skill. According to her profile at Future Masters Chess Academy,

Janell saw the rewards of her hard work when she ended up in third place at the Super Nationals in the under 1000 section. After this her motivation was higher to learn more about the depths of the game and see how far she could go.

After some urging from National Master Lawyer Times and increased success, Janell had an idea that she could strive to be a National Master. There has been a lot said about Black women in chess and the plight of making National Master. However, the air has been clouded when speaking of being the “first” as opposed to simply striving to get the title (top 1%). There is a subtle difference. Perhaps it is better to focus on the goal of earning the coveted title as opposed to the added pressure of making history.

Chess has provided a platform for Janell Warner's talents.
Janell Warner has aspirations of earning the Master’s title.
Photos courtesy of

Like many young chess players, Janell went off to Brandeis University and while she was President of the Chess Club, there was less time to focus on chess improvement. She joined the Future Masters Chess Association (FCMA) and was able to procure resources to improve her chess skill. According to their website, “Janell was so grateful of the help from FMCA that she felt the need to give back to the students of FMCA.” Times is the founder of FMCA and has spoken highly of Janell and adds that she has beaten some strong players. He also made mention that it will take more tournament experience to reach the next level.

Times conducting a class at Future Masters Chess Academy
Photos courtesy of

Follow is a game from IM David Vigorito, one of the strongest players in the Northeast for decades. Times described the moment he noticed the young talented girl.

“David Vigorito her opponent. One of the strongest for a long time in Massachusetts. The game was at World Amateur Team like 5 years ago and this is when I met her. I said who is this young black lady drawing him?”

There is always a challenge for a newly-minted graduate. One has to chart the course of life and these are critical years in creating the most options for success. Having a peak rating of 1986 (USCF), Janell has a great start and chess will be a platform where she can always find joy. Her coach Lawyer Times feels she has what it takes to be a master-level player and estimates it takes approximately 200 tournaments to earn the coveted title. Janell Warner will return to her hometown of New York and continue to pursue her chess aspirations.

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