Back in middle (or was it high?) school, in the mid-2000s, I distinctly recall thumbing through some science-fiction paperback assigned to another class. Don't remember the title or even the main character's name, but I do recall:
- Earth was rendered completely uninhabitable by pollution or something like that.
- The protagonists were part of a spaceship voyage to find somewhere new to settle (I don't recall if they made it or not). I think the ship had several hundred other families packed in.
- It MAY have had a moment near the beginning where the protagonist's father explains that other, richer countries (or planets?) got the better ships, leaving them with "bottom of the barrel". Honestly, it's entire possible I'm conflating this part from something else.
- The only source of recreation on the ship is playing chess against the computer.
It’s not Checkmate by Eric T. Baker.