Andover resident heads for junior chess championship | Merrimack Valley
Carissa Yip was around six years old when she started playing chess. Although her interest started earlier, it was around this time that she managed to convince her parents to help her learn to play.
Her first opponent was her father, who learned to play so he could teach his daughter. After that, Yip said, she made her dad play her every day.
“I lost every time,” she said.
At the time, Yip said she was a “bad loser” and asked her mom, ask her dad, to throw a match. But Yip’s father refused and the losses continued.
About six months after learning to play the board game, Yip won his first game.
A few months later, Yip said his father was getting tired of the games.
Yip recalled her dad saying something like, “I don’t want to play, I’m going to take you to a tournament.
So Yip and his father went to a local chess club.
“I was playing my very first tournament and I played pretty well I guess,” Yip said, noting that she played pretty well. The tournament director told her father that she should play in the next state championship for children under eight.
Yip took second place in the championship.
“I, seven, was very happy with it,” Yip said. “It was the first time I received a trophy. When I was a kid, I really liked shiny things.
After that first tournament, Yip continued to shine, becoming the youngest woman to become a pundit at age nine and the youngest woman to become a national master at age 11. She also broke the record for the youngest woman to beat a grandmaster. She beat grandmaster Alexander Ivanov at the New England Open when she was just 10 years old.
Now 18, Yip, an Andover resident and Phillips Academy alumnus, will be one of 10 entrants in the United States Junior Championship. She enters as the wild card of the tournament.
The tournament will take place at the Saint Louis Chess Club, located in Saint-Louis. It will last from July 6 to July 16. The event is by invitation only and will see participants compete for $20,000 and $6,000 in scholarships, a Chess Club spokesperson said.
The tournament will be another of many for Yip, but she said all tournaments manage to be different from each other.
“My opponents are different every time, the matches are different every time. As a person, I’m different every time,” Yip said.
In this tournament, Yip will be the only woman, which she says adds “a bit of pressure”.
Yip said his favorite part of chess is its “creative” or even “artistic” side. Yip said this part is often underestimated because most people think of chess as a very scientific or mechanical game. Yip said an example of this creative side was evident when humans played chess with computers. While Yip said the best computer can beat the best human chess player, there are still situations where a human will be able to come up with a better move than a computer.
“That says a lot about creativity within chess,” she said. “You can play it however you want, achieve whatever you have in mind, whatever design you want. But there is still a structure to it.