Percy Yip began teaching his daughter Carissa to play chess in 2010. After just one year, she could beat him. Two years later, the Massachusetts schoolgirl has just become the youngest female on record to reach the US Chess Federation’s (USCF) “expert” level. Carissa is nine years old.
A fifth-grader at McCarthy Middle School in the Boston suburb of Chelmsford, she is also the top-ranked player at the nearby Wachusett Chess Club. Last week, after the USCF confirmed her expert status, Carissa and her father received a standing ovation from their fellow club members.
George Mirijanian, the club’s programme director and a former president of the Massachusetts Chess Association, told the Associated Press: “In my more than 50 years with the club, I had never witnessed such an exuberant outburst from club members. They are really proud of Carissa and what she has accomplished.”
As an expert, the diminutive prodigy is in the top seven per cent of the 51,000 players registered with the USCF, and in the top two per cent of female players. It means she has a rating of more than 2,000, though she has set herself the target of reaching 2,100 in 2013. Mr Yip, meanwhile, is confident that within a year, his daughter could achieve the pinnacle of a 2,200 rating, making her a chess “master”. “I was hoping (for) Carissa to reach expert level while she still is nine, and my dream comes true!” Percy writes on the club’s website, “Now I have a bigger dream, and hope that dream will come true too.”
If she achieves a master rating in the next three years, Carissa will set another record: the youngest female master yet – Irina Kush, was 12 when she reached master level and she has since won the US Women’s Chess Championship five times, including in 2012.
In December, Carissa will travel to the UAE for the World Youth Championships
On her Facebook fan page, Carissa lists several other hobbies, including reading, piano, softball, skiing and golf.