Jacorey Bynum makes National Master!

Jacorey Bynum broke the 2200 barrier last weekend at the Southern Chess Classic, earning the coveted title of National Master! It is a testament to the values of chess education.

Jacorey Bynum
Photo from jbking07 (chess.com)

Jacorey learned to play chess in August 2017 as a positive outlet during a difficult period in life. He started attending a free lunch program in Sunrise, Florida, run by legendary coach FM Sunil Weeramantry and the National Scholastic Chess Foundation. The NSCF had been running programs in Sunrise, and Weeramantry’s stepson and local resident GM Hikaru Nakamura would serve as a motivating presence.

Robert McLellan, the Director of Communications and Development, described the NSCF’s mission to The Chess Drum:

In 2017 we started a program called The Sunrise Center for Excellence in Chess with the idea that we would offer chess as a community engagement “tool”. Funding for our various activities, from weekly Open Play for free tournaments for kids comes primarily from the City of Sunrise. One unique program we started was funded by a one-off grant from the Florida Panthers. We were able to introduce chess in summer camps throughout the city. The east Sunrise area, however, did not have an organized camp, so we started a free chess class in conjunction with a summer lunch program. A young boy, Jacorey Bynum, started coming and showed great interest. We started a mentoring program that really focused on Jacorey and two older boys, Quintin and Quan Tanksley. There were a few others but these 3 were a solid core.

~Robert McLellan

After a couple of months, Jacorey played in his first tournament earning a rating of 994. Within a year, started appearing on “top 100” lists. Recognizing his achievements, Sunrise had “Jacorey Bynum Day” on September 28, 2019, and presented him with the following proclamation. It beautifully describes his chess journey.

Sunil Weeramantry, Mourice Hylton, and Mayor Michael Ryan present Jacorey Bynum with his proclamation in 2019.
Photo by National Scholastic Chess Foundation

Four years later, Jacorey has made tremendous progress and has reached a tremendous milestone. He is currently #39 on the top 100 list for 16-year-olds. Coach Robert McKenzie made the announcement:

We would have programs at the park and libraries for kids and teach them chess and for the more advanced players, some strategic elements. He was about 8 when I met him and he would always try to test me on the positions I presented , often finding variations , not included in the text and force me to find the answer in real time or be embarrassed, haha. He would often challenge me to games and finally started winning his first games against me at about 11 or 12, I can’t mess with him now. and he’s only in 10th grade! The future looks so bright for this young man. Great job Jacorey, we are so proud of you and still rooting for you to go even higher! A National Master is in the 99.99 percentile of ALL chess players in the country.

Congratulations to Jacorey Bynum who is now officially a National Master having just crossed the goal line of 2200 USCF over the board rating at the Southern Chess Classic. I met Jacorey through my work with the National Scholastic Chess Foundation and the Sunrise Center of Excellence in Chess.

~Robert McKenzie
Jacorey with Coach Robert McKenzie
Photo by Robert McKenzie

Congratulations Jacorey!

One Comment

  1. Thank you to the founder and editor Daaim Shabazz of The Chess Drum, the preeminent website covering chess players of African and Caribbean descent throughout the world for this amazing article of recognition! I would read this site early on from its inception and learned about Maurice Ashley, the first Black Grandmaster and the legendary but late Emory Tate and his swashbuckling tactics. These stories inspired me and kept me going. Congrats to Jacorey Bynum who could now inspire another generation of youth to the power of our majestic game!

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