Eighth-grader advances to chess league of her own
Jul. 4, 2013

It didn’t take long for Teresa Knecht to become one of the leading youth chess players in Iowa.

The Northwest Junior High eighth-grader learned to play the game in fourth grade and began competing the same year. She said she fell in love with the game immediately, and once she advanced past her father’s ability, she began studying with a private chess coach.

“I really liked it and I wanted to advance more,” said Teresa, 13. “I started to be able to beat my dad, too.”

Her father, Terrance Knecht, said he wanted to get Teresa interested in the game because he “couldn’t see any downside” to it.

“It pushes you intellectually, both in a strategic way and a mathematical way,” he said. “I also felt that the other young people she came into contact with would challenge her to do better and move forward.”

Teresa said she practices chess at least one hour each day, but she said she often devotes more time than that to the sport.

“I like that you can play with your friends and always learn something,” she said. “You can never stop learning. There is always something to learn.”

The hard work and long hours are paying off. In 2013, Teresa placed first at the Iowa Girls Chess Championship, the Prairie Chess Series Tournament Three and the Iowa Class Championships. The Northwest Junior High chess team — of which she is a member — took first place at the Iowa High School and Junior High School Team Championship and the Ice Harbor Scholastic Chess Open.

“It feels amazing. It feels like all my hard work has paid off over the years,” Teresa said of her success. “I couldn’t have done it without my friends.”

This summer, she will compete at the Susan Polgar Foundation Girls’ Invitational in Missouri and the National Girls Invitational Tournament in Wisconsin.

“I’m nervous, but I’m looking forward to it because I get to see a whole bunch of people from around the U.S. that I’ve never met before,” she said.

She said she especially enjoys the camaraderie between the female players at chess tournaments.

“All the girls — because the sport is dominated by boys — know each other and are friends,” she said. “Girls are also the top players at tournaments a lot of the time.”

She said she prides herself on being able to beat her male counterparts.

“Knowing that I’m a girl and that I’m better than most boys at the chess tournaments is fun, especially when they get a little mad that they lost to a girl,” she said.

Source: http://www.press-citizen.com

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