Thursday, March 24, 2011

Young Chess Players Raises ELO from 1000 to 1700 in About Six Months!

What a fantastic story!

10-year-old Dublin girl among nation's top chess players
Published: Tuesday, March 22, 2011 9:21 PM EDT

Maggie Feng (in white sweater, left), at the 2010 Susan
Polgar Girls Invitational, Blitz Championship.
Ten-year-old Maggie Feng is shy by nature, but place a chessboard in front of the precocious girl, and she will open up as swiftly as finding a checkmate.

Feng, a fourth-grade student at Deer Run Elementary School, holds several past and current national titles in her age group for her chess acumen.

She is the second-highest ranked player in Ohio for girls in kindergarten through the 12th grade, having only recently yielded the top ranking, and is the No. 3 ranked 10-year-old girl in the United States.

Feng is the defending national champion for girls ages 10 and younger, a title she will have the opportunity to defend for a final time at the 2011 National All-Girls Tournament, April 8-10 in Chicago.

Feng appears to be a natural at the game and has been a quick-learner.

"She began playing chess when she was in the second grade," said her father, Lei Feng.

Maggie began playing chess after discovering her older brother's chessboard. "We had this chessboard her brother used and she asked me to play with her," Mr. Feng said.

"Then, she asked to go to a chess camp and fell in love with the game," he said.

Two years later, Maggie is traveling throughout the United States for tournaments and schools of instruction.

Feng competed March 19 at the Ohio Elementary Championship in Cuyahoga Falls and April 2 will compete in the championship division of the Ohio All Girls Tournament at the Columbus Schools for Girls.

Last year, she attended the World Chess Tournament, sponsored by Susan Polgar, held in Las Vegas.

"She has a very good memory," Mr. Feng said.

"She can remember a whole game and memorize all the moves," he said.

Memory is a crucial component of the game, said Alan Casden, one of two coaches with who Maggie trains. Casden is a coach for Columbus Chess Lessons and meets personally with Maggie for 90-minute sessions twice a month.

Maggie also meets with another coach for 60-minute on-line sessions twice a month.

"She came to us about 18 months ago," said Casden, adding Maggie was rated at a little more than 1,000 then, and has since rose to a rating in excess of 1,700.

Ratings, unlike rankings, use higher numbers to illustrate improvement or excellence.

"Chess is a complex science," Casden said. "We study the past games she has played and analyze her strengths and weaknesses," he said.

Using both live games, computer games, and games against virtual opponents Maggie can continually learn how to improve her game, Casden said.

But for Maggie, it's a blend of work and pleasure.

"It's fun for me to play," Maggie said.

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