Amelia Wheeless

If Wheeless was stressed the week before the Polgar, she didn’t let on.

“I don’t feel that pressured by it,” she said, shifting in her seat at the card table in her southeast Charlotte living room, where a chessboard has become a permanent fixture.

“But it’s nice to beat people who beat me before.”

Wheeless started playing chess as a fourth-grader at St. Ann Catholic School.

“We were going to have a chess tournament, and I wanted to play,” she said.

So Wheeless’ father, Randy, who dabbled in chess as a youngster, taught her. From then on, she was hooked.

Wheeless travels to about 15 tournaments a year. This year, she took first at the N.C. All Girls Open in Matthews to earn a spot at the Polgar.

Wheeless went to the Polgar in 2005, too, and placed 10th.

A lot of teens play chess, but few are girls, Wheeless said.

“She’s surprised a few older men in her years,” her father said.

Asked if she ever felt the need to prove herself, Wheeless shook her head.

“Not really,” she said, “because it’s proof enough that I’m there.”

Wheeless spends an hour a day playing chess online or studying puzzles. She also plays her sister, a UNC Charlotte student, and her father, who’s gotten back into competitive play.

Wheeless balances chess with a summer job at Dairy Queen. She loves video games and the Internet, and she’s a black belt in tae kwon do.

Here is the full article.

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