I recently read your article “In Chess, White Always Goes First” (Cheap Seats, 4/5). It seems I have become the subject of controversy over racism in chess. It is true that I have represented the District of Columbia in the Denker Tournament of High School Champions for the past four years and will do so again this summer in Cherry Hill, N.J. This is not the result of racism but of my winning the qualifying tournament five years in a row.
Vaughn Bennett has accused the executive director of the U.S. Chess Center, David Mehler, of appointing me as the champion. I take great offense at the idea that I have done anything other than work hard at the game to become the strongest player in D.C.
Mr. Bennett has also made inferences about my mother’s using her position on the U.S. Chess Center board of directors to help me become the high school representative. First of all, my mother is no longer on the board; second, she is a woman of integrity who would never want or allow me to be in a position I did not earn or deserve.
I would never want to represent the District of Columbia if I did not earn the right to do so. If chess has taught me anything, it is to maintain a sense of dignity, and to win and lose with grace—a lesson I don’t think Mr. Bennett has quite learned. I hope he will find some other issue to focus his attention on, because “racism in chess” is just a lost battle against anybody (white or black) who maintains a sense of truth.