A young chess player implements a new strategy: ‘trust me’ | News

When 12-year-old Mountain View resident Ruiyang Yan narrowly qualified for the United States Junior Women’s Chess Championship, she set her expectations cautiously.

However, as the grueling 10-day competition, hosted by the Saint Louis Chess Club in Missouri from July 10-20, drew to a close, Ruiyang faced a surprising result. With five wins, two draws and two losses, she placed third, winning a prize of $1,500.

She said the experience taught her “just to trust me more”.

Ruiyang first discovered the sport at the age of 4, when his parents bought him a chess set as a gift. Her parents had no knowledge of the game, so she signed up for a class to meet other competitors and learn the basic strategies and rules of the game.

This first experience piqued her interest and Ruiyang said she delved further into the world of chess, studying strategy books to improve her skills and playing against other children through online communities such as ChessKid.com .

“It’s fun to beat everyone,” Ruiyang said.

Over the past five years, she has turned her hobby into a competitive business. Ruiyang typically spends three hours a day training, waking up at 6:30 a.m. to play online chess and attending local competitions in Northern California three to four times a month, she said.

She also trains with Weilang Li, former head coach of the Chinese national chess team. Even after 40 years of involvement in the sport, Li said he still finds every match “magical”.

At the St. Louis tournament, Ruiyang faced an opponent each day of the competition, recalling her shortest match against Maggie Feng in round six lasting two to three hours, with the rest lasting much longer.

Li, who traveled to St. Louis with Ruiyang, said her sixth-round match was “perfect”, adding that Ruiyang was able to get her pieces into a winning position with just a few moves.

“She was playing like a computer,” Li said proudly, through a translator.

As the second-youngest in her cohort, with most players aged 15 or older, Ruiyang said she lacked confidence throughout many of her matches, but sought to “do her best”. .

“It was really good,” Ruiyang said, describing the moment she learned of her third-place finish. “I did much better than I expected.”

Li attributed much of Ruiyang’s success to his self-motivation and genuine interest in chess.

Ruiyang said she wants to save her $1,500 award to fund her future tuition and hopes to maintain a lifelong love for the sport. In a week, she is due to travel to China for her next challenge, the World Cadet Chess Championship, before starting seventh grade at Egan Junior High School.

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