BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The game of chess is gaining popularity among city middle schoolers, so much so some are going to the national championships in April.

Andrea Fujii explains how some Northeast Baltimore students could soon be crowned the best in the country.

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Chess is a game of mental gymnastics and some Woodhome Middle School students have it mastered.

“I mostly like the strategy part because you have to use your mind and the skills that you have learned,” said James Braswell, seventh-grader.

This is the second time the 11-member team has won the state title, but the first time they’re headed to the national championships.

“It makes me feel like I’ve accomplished a lot and we’ve accomplished a lot as a team,” said Sharatia Jefferson, seventh- grader.

Many of these players didn’t know how to play the complicated game before joining the club.

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“You have to be book smart and look at and read theory and once you get into that phase of chess your game gets better,” said William Morrison, chess coach.

Since the team won states last year, it’s now the club to join. There’s even a waiting list.

In a sport dominated by boys, player Sharatia Jefferson isn’t intimidated. She’s actually considered the best.

“You have to be at least two moves ahead of your opponent,” said Jefferson.

Besides outsmarting the players from other states, they have some other tricks up their sleeves.

“I like toying with the other players’ minds,” said James Braswell, seventh-grader.

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Along with Woodhome, Cross Country Middle School will also be going to nationals. The tournament is April 15 in Ohio.