Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Pengs are Prodigies in Chess

From YorkRegion.Com Michael Power, Staff Writer Published on May 26, 2008 Despite their young ages, Jackie and Janet Peng are clear on what it is about chess they enjoy. “The strategy and how you have to think what to do,” says Jackie, 10, who travels to Quebec City with her sister next month to compete in the Canadian Youth Chess Championship. Her younger sister Janet, 7, also enjoys the challenge the game offers. “The harder you play the harder you have to battle,” she says. The Richmond Hill sisters recently competed in their age groups at the Ontario Youth Chess Championship in Kitchener, organized by the internationally recognized Chess Federation of Canada. Not enough competitors signed up in the under-eight division, so Janet moved to playing against players 10 and younger, said the girls’ mother, Xuekun Xing. Both girls won in their age groups, she said. They can now continue to a national chess competition in Quebec City from July 14 to 17. Winners from that competition move on to the two-week World Youth Chess Championships in Vietnam this October. Jackie started playing chess about a year-and-a-half ago, Ms Xing said. She and her husband, Henry Ping, signed her up for a community program in the game and her school has a chess club. Jackie took to the game quickly, showing an ability to concentrate and think logically, said Mrs. Xing. “She got better and better and played more and more,” she said. “We saw she has a lot of potential in chess.” Jackie played in tournaments in the GTA representing Crosby Heights Public School and her parents signed her up with a private chess teacher two months ago. Janet learned the game largely by watching Jackie play with their father, Mrs. Xing said. She began playing regularly this year, as well, and soon gained skill. When the family arrived at the Kitchener tournament, her younger sibling asked to participate. They hadn’t expected to enter Janet, but registered her on the spot. Like her older sister, she won. “She has some talent, too,” Mrs. Xing said. The sisters also played in and won the Ontario Girls’ Chess Championship May 17. Jackie, especially, is studying hard for the Quebec City tournament. She takes two private lessons per week in the game, said Mrs. Xing. And according to their Thornhill chess teacher, the sisters could be a force during the competition. “I believe they have chances,” said Iuri Lebedev, noting it’s tough to say how good a chance that might be. Janet started playing more recently and does well for her age, while her older sibling competes among the best in her age group, said Mr. Lebedev, who has taught the game for 25 years.. Competing at that level is an achievement, given thousands of children play the game. But like sports, you have to be well-conditioned and healthy to play the game well, he said. Sitting for hours and thinking strategy takes more stamina than it might seem. And training beforehand and being well prepared add to the sisters’ chances. “We have some work to do,” Mr. Lebedev said.

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