10-year-old qualifies for the World Youth Chess Championship

Among 182 players, 10-year-old Sheena Zeng, the daughter of Michelle Zeng, instructor of math and computer science, and Hongbiao Zeng, professor of math and computer science, qualified to attend the United States Chess Federation 2014 World Youth Chess Championships.

“They select a group of kids and divide them into different age groups,” Michelle Zeng said. “Then they separate them from boys and girls. Each age group has two different teams. The age groups go from under 10 to under 18. My daughter belongs to the under 10 age group on the girl side. Each of the age group will select 10 players to represent United States.”

Unfortunately, not all 10 players can go to this trip because it’s estimated to be over $10,000, according to Zeng.

“This is the first time she got invited to go,” Zeng said. “So we want to make it happen for her because she did work hard for this.”

To qualify for the WYCC, a player has to rate at least 1500. Zeng rated 1600.

“I knew I wasn’t going to get in by tournaments but I could get in by my rating which was high enough,” Sheena said.  “We weren’t really sure, but we were 90 percent sure that I would get in. So when the list came out I was excited but I wasn’t really surprised.”

Zeng estimates that there are currently there are about 5,000 active chess players in the United States.
USCF’s invitation letter stated that Sheena is “one of the top rated players in [her] age group in the United States.”

She will play against 10 other players from different countries, where according to Zeng the U.S. is considered a weak opponent.

She will not know where they are from until the match begins. Everyone plays with their 10 players. If they win, they will go up against another winner. If they lose they will play against the loser.

No one is kicked out or put to the sideline if they do not win. For each match that she receives, she gets a point. If she ranks up eight points, that means she won eight matches.


History of Sheena's chess experience

Sheena’s entrance into the World Youth Chess Championships has been a few years in the making.

She has been played chess since she was seven.

She first got interested in playing chess when she saw her sister playing.



On school days, she spends a total of 2 hours practicing and 3 hours on the weekends while also practicing piano and Taekwondo. The longest period of time she has gone playing at a tournament was 6 hours.

“I practice with my dad,” Sheena said. “I also have a coach. We recently hired a new coach because my old coach didn’t seem to take my practices very serious.”


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