Meet the 9-Year-Old Chess Expert

The talented girl began playing just three years ago

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Carissa Yip / Facebook

While most 9-year-old girls are checking out Justin Bieber, Carissa Yip is checkmating opponents on the chessboard. This month, she became the youngest to reach the expert level (a rating over 2000) since the U.S. Chess Federation started “record-keeping electronically” in 1991, the Associated Press reports via The Lowell Sun. Now Yip, who starts fifth grade in the fall, is in “the top 7 percent of all players registered with the group and the top 2 per cent of female players.”

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Yip started playing chess with her Dad in 2010 and was soon playing competitively at MetroWest Chess Club. Now she is  the top-ranked player at Wachusett Chess Club near her home in Chelmsford, Massachusetts, about 30 minutes northwest of Boston. She had only been playing chess for six months before she was invited to represent the U.S. in the World Youth Championships in Brazil in June 2011. By June 2012, she was the number one player in the age 8 and under division.  Five months later, she competed in the World Youth Championships in Slovenia, and in December, she is expected to compete in the 2013 one in the United Arab Emirates.

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Plus, you know Yip’s an expert because she can play the game without even looking at the board. Earlier this month, she challenged a Lowell Sun reporter to a game while her back was turned to him and told her father where to move the pieces:

Yip’s next goal is to reach the master level (a rating over 2200), and her father told the Lowell Sun she could accomplish that in the next year. For instance, five-time women’s U.S. chess champion Irina Krush of Brooklyn, N.Y., became a master at age 12. Yip also likes reading, piano, softball, skiing and golf, according to her Facebook page.