Last weekend, 1,300 children competed in the grade nationals in Houston, including more than 100 eighth graders. Four — Darwin Li, Andrew Ng, Ben Gershenov and Chaz Daly — tied for first. However, the country’s best 13-year-old, Ray Robson of Florida, was elsewhere in the state, competing in an invitational tournament at the University of Texas-Dallas that ended Friday.
Ray, who started with four victories against two grandmasters and two international masters, did not win the tournament (he finished fourth), but his performance was good enough to complete the requirements for the international master title.
In addition to being perhaps the youngest international master in United States history, Ray satisfied the requirements in a mere six weeks. In November, he won the Sixth North American FIDE Invitational, then finished seventh at the World Youth Championships in Turkey.
Ray studied with Gregory Kaidanov for almost two years, but has been working on his own since June, said his father, Gary, who said he taught his son to play when he was 3.
In a telephone interview on Thursday, Ray, an only child who is home-schooled, said he had no specific plan when it came to studying chess. “I just do different things,” he said. “Sometimes it is difficult to figure out what to study.”
Asked what he liked best about chess, he replied, “I guess I like it because it is kind of a logic game, and I am pretty good at logic.”
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