Pawn Shop


In his native Belarus, Mikhail Katz, right, was a champion checkers player and an enthusiastic student of chess.

In Brooklyn, where he migrated 16 years ago, he has continued to work at his vocation.

As head coach at the White Rook Chess Club in the Brighton Beach section of Brooklyn, home for generations to waves of émigrés, he teaches 100 students, most of them in chess, most of them, like him, from the former Soviet Union, many of them present or aspiring champions.

The club, formed about a dozen years ago, takes its name from a chess championship in his homeland.

Jewish newcomers from the onetime Soviet republics have brought over their interest, and competence, in chess. “It’s tradition, Katz says — “generation to generation. It’s genetic.”