The second and third graders tore into the classroom at Harlem Success Academy 2 like a tornado of little arms and legs. A cacophony of giggles and squeals preceded them.

Minutes later these little dervishes of energy were studious and silent, but for the click of chess pieces and the clack of the timers they popped after each move.

The tension was thick. The players were focused. The inaugural chess tournament of the Harlem Success Academy scholars was underway, and the competition was on.

“The thing I like about chess is having hard enemies, to see if I’m good or not,” said Abudurazaq Aribidesi, 8, a third grader at the school, after winning his second match of the day. The young player, who has bounced between being the top ranked and third ranked player in the entire school, could barely tamp down his pride as he nudged his glasses up on his nose.

“I feel really good,” Abudurazaq said (pictured below right), strolling confidently out of the classroom.

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