Tested in a barbershop, 7th-grader becomes Baltimore’s first-ever national chess champion

In the back of the Reflection Eternal Barbershop in Baltimore’s Barclay neighborhood, owner Sundiata Osagie sits locked in an intense chess battle — with a 12-year-old boy.

A skilled chess player, Osagie easily beats most of the customers who challenge him at his shop. But this is no ordinary challenger. This 12-year-old boy is Cahree Myrick, who has just been crowned the first individual national youth chess champion in the history of Baltimore.

“This is the chess champion of the country right here,” Osagie brags to customers, as the two players trade pawns.

Though Cahree has learned to play in a formal chess league, his mother, Yuana Spears, brings him here to the barbershop — amid the buzz cuts, jazz music and history books — to test his skills.

“It’s a different style,” Cahree says. “When I play people in standard tournaments, I know what to expect. Here, they play more freestyle.”

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