Brooklyn chess star battles the pressure of expectations

Some days, Brooklyn’s chess queen can’t help feeling like a pawn.

Rochelle Ballantyne, a former child prodigy who was featured prominently in a chess documentary as a 13-year-old, is trying to hold onto her love for the game after years of grinding through high-stakes tournaments under the pressure of soaring expectations.

“It’s made chess become — instead of the game I love — it’s become like a job,” said the 18-year-old phenom, a college freshman who returned to East Flatbush last week from the United Arab Emirates after an unsatisfying finish at a world youth championship tournament.

Ballantyne’s followers assumed she would swiftly reach her goal of becoming the first African-American female chess master.

It has proved to be an elusive goal.

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