It’s Checkmate, and Then Back to School for 11-Year-Old State Champ
Some Say the Dobbs Ferry Youngster Could Someday Be U.S. Champion
By Maria LaMagna
When Nicolas de T. Checa, 11, was pronounced New York’s state chess champion after the tournament ended earlier this month, he was asleep. After all, the next day was the first day of school.
When Nicolas de T. Checa was pronounced New York’s state chess champion after the tournament ended earlier this month, he was asleep. After all, the next day was the first day of school.
The 11-year-old Dobbs Ferry resident had competed in Albany over the Labor Day weekend against rivals decades older to become the youngest champion in the tournament’s 135-year history.
But for Nicolas, news of the big win had to wait. “When we say school is first, school is first,” said his father, who is also named Nicolas. “We didn’t want him to be tired.”
The middle schooler’s accomplishments would be notable for a chess player of any age. Nicolas, a slight, brown-haired sixth-grader who goes by Nico, reached a national master rating that places him in the top 1% of all competitive chess players in the U.S.
He also won the New York State Middle School Championship this year and was New York’s representative in the Barber Tournament in Middleton, Wis., a competition between 50 students in kindergarten through eighth grade. He placed sixth in that tournament.
The winning formula: years of practice, with people and computers. Nicolas began playing chess when he was 4, and spent hours at it, taking advantage of chess software programs, and studying masters and their strategies.
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