Chess Notes for July 9
By Harold Dondis and Patrick Wolff
July 09, 2012

Here is the story of 8-year-old Carissa Yip.

Carissa’s mother is from China, her father, Percy Yip, is from Hong Kong. Carissa was born in the United States. Percy plays a meager game of chess but when Carissa said she wanted to join her school’s chess club, Percy taught her some of the basic rules in March 2010.

Carissa persisted in her interest and to please her, Percy searched for a chess club and found the Metrowest CC in Natick. They talked to the club’s president and founder, Mark Kaprielian. His experience was that she was too young and she might lose all her games. This did not bother Carissa, and she surprised by winning her first game against a player rated 1200. At Steve Frymer’s suggestion, she played 26 games to get a USCF rating so as to qualify for the 2011 Spiegel Cup (the state’s scholastic championships). There she won 2d place in the “8 and Under” section and then next she added first place in the 2011 Gus Gosselin Grade School Championships “2d Grade” section.

That was only the beginning; the family then switched from the MetroWest CC to the Wachusett CC in Fitchburg, where under the tutoring eye of George Mirijanian her rating soared to 1400. Former American champion Larry Christiansen and wife Natasha, a strong player, took an interest and started teaching Carissa last year. Larry says she has great concentration for an 8-year-old and is very intimidating to older players. What adult wants to lose to an 8-year-old? Not many by our count.

She became a tiny force at Wachusett. In the recent Wachusett “Section B” tournament she came in a clear first. She then won a G/25 tournament at Wachusett this past month that included the winner of the previous Section “A” tournament. She is Wachusett’s 8th highest-rated player. Finally, she recently played in the BCC’s Weaver Adam’s Club Championship qualifying tournament. She was 1-1 after two rounds when she sat down against your first named columnist. (The combined age of the contestants was 97!) She nearly suffered defeat but managed to hold a draw in an inferior endgame.

Carissa is now the United States’s highest-rated 8-year-old girl and she has qualified to play in the World Youth Tournament in Maribor, Slovenia, in November. Her family hopes to raise about $4,000 through tournaments and sponsorships in order for her to do so.

Our view of her is that she is an accomplished defensive player, and as her ability to attack improves, her rating will soar toward an expert’s or master’s rating. She is now starting to get press attention. An article in the Lowell Sun quoted Mirijanian who stated very simply, “She is a phenomenon.” That is possibly an understatement.


Chess Daily News from Susan Polgar
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