My brother went to the school chess club of the Minnesota school where we lived, so when I started the first grade at the age of 6, I started too. I was attracted to the game, and after a few months I started to get ratings.
But at the beginning I was one of the worst players in the school club. In the next two years, I played about 200 games and lost a lot, but through these, I gained more experience and became very good.
I study many parts of chess; opening, tactics, strategy and endgames, and I try to improve them through practice. I like to play positions in midfield, but if there are great tactics that I can use, I also like to play them. For example, when playing games, you can use strategies called “strings”, “pins” and “forks”. There are also different checkmate methods, such as partnering with knights and queens.
Every game is different, and I think people may not realize it. There are so many different moves and beautiful combinations to play, so you have to be resourceful. This is why I like chess. After playing for two years, I was 8 years old and became one of the youngest chess experts in the United States. You must reach a level of 2000 to get this title, and I achieved this goal in September 2018. I am one of the youngest girls to achieve this goal, and I think no other girl has done this since then.
Since then, I have won two gold medals in the World Junior Chess Championship, one in the 2019 Women’s U10 Group and the other in the 2020 Women’s U12 Group. In March 2020, my chess level reached 2200, making me one of the youngest chess masters in the United States.
I am the youngest player in the 2020 U.S. Junior Championships or U.S. Girls Junior Championships. Both boys and girls are played online. This year, I became the youngest contestant again. It feels great to play against older and experienced players, and I hope that one day I can be as good as some of them. The match I lost to stronger players in last year’s tournament was really outstanding for me because I tried to learn from them.
For example, I will compete with the international master Carissa Yip in 2020. She defeated me technically in the last game, when she rose a pawn and managed to convert it. Carissa has won the US Junior Women’s Championship many times and she really inspired me.
She will not participate in the competition this year, but I will be competing against 9 very powerful teenagers between the ages of 14 and 20, and high-seeded players like Annie Wang, Martha Samadashvili and Thalia Cervantes are also very inspiring to me. . I am one of the low seeds, so the competition will be very difficult, I am very nervous to participate in all competitions-I just hope to be the best!
Recently, because of preparations for competitions, I have a bit of time to play chess, but I went to a regular middle school, so usually I only have one hour in school days to spend playing chess. Outside of chess, I like to do math, and I run a mile every day-except for days I can’t do it!
Most of my friends don’t actually play chess, so I’m not sure what they think of my success, but I think my parents are very impressed.
I hosted a show called “Alice’s Pawn Palace” with FIDE master FunMasterMike on the ChessKid website. We started performing in the fall of 2020, and a few months later I participated in the semifinals of the ChessKid Youth Speed Chess Championship. Since then, we have had several episodes. In each show, we will do fun things and chess activities, and play games with other children who challenge us. I like “hands and brains”. One of them, such as FunMasterMike, says the name of the work, and then I move the work. We have thousands of people watching these shows live, and after these episodes, many children sent me friend requests on the website. I hope people like these shows.
One day, I want to be a chess master, but if I can’t do this, then I hope to still participate in tournaments like the US Junior Championships and even the US Women’s Championship. It feels great to be successful at a young age and I am honored to have the opportunity to participate in the American Youth Chess Championship. Chess is an important part of my life, so I hope to achieve many great successes in the future.
Alice Lee is a chess master who lives in North Oaks, Minnesota with her family. The 2021 U.S. Youth Chess Championship and the 2021 U.S. Youth Chess Championship will be held at the St. Louis Chess Club from July 12 to 16, 2021.
All views expressed in this article are the author’s own views.
As told to Jenny Howard.