For these Englewood champs, chess is more than a game

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Chess coach Joseph Ocol works with his team of 50 after school. (Andrea V. Watson / DNAinfo)

ENGLEWOOD — For many students at Earle STEM Academy, chess is more than just an afterschool club: It’s part of the curriculum and the school culture.

Last year, chess coach and math teacher Joseph Ocol worked with 30 students a few days a week after school. This year, he’s reaching close to 200, more than 40 percent of the school’s 457 total student body.

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Chicago Public Schools cut budgets throughout the district last school year, which affected the team, but they were still able to bring home multiple trophies. A GoFundMe page was created to help cover traveling costs and has raised more than $17,000 so far.

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