Dobbs Ferry’s 10-year-old Nicolas "Nico" Checa was preparing for the 2012 World Youth Chess Championship in Maribor, Slovenia when the fifth grader was bestowed yet another honor for his dedication to the game. The U.S. Chess Federation just named Checa, the third highest rated 10-year old in the country, to its 2013 All-American Team.
“It is an honor to be appointed to the All American team. There are a lot of great players and we all work very hard,” said Checa. “Qualifying for the World Youth Championship in Slovenia in a couple of weeks was a big challenge and I am glad I made it. I will be facing the best kids in the world.”
The All-America Team was created in 1987 and includes the best players who are under 18. Being accepted to the team is considered one of the highest honors for a young chess player, and is determined on the basis if age, rating and other activities. Checa says his favorite part of playing chess is the mental challenge and its level of complexity. He is currently studying lots of openings and memorizing common positions to prepare for the championship.
“I prepare against my opponents if I know who they are in advance using my database of games,” said Checa. “If I don’t know who they are, I study the positions that I guess will be most likely.”
Checa’s other chess accomplishments include:
- a USCF rating that places him in the “Candidate Master” category of the US Chess Federation player categories
- being ranked in top 3 percent of all U.S. Chess Federation officially rated players in the country
- being ranked in the top 1 percent of all scholastic players in the country (under 18)
- participating in last year’s World Youth Championship in Brazil with the US National Team
“I get lots of satisfaction to see my hard work pay off as I get better and my rating improves,” said Checa. “I think chess does help with school related things, like math, logic, and most importantly studying!”
Checa says that with enough practice young chess players can give their adult counterparts a run for their money.
“I think it is important for young chess players to not get intimidated by adults,” said Checa. “In September I played in the Open section at the New York State Championship –played all adults, got a plus score and won the Under 2200 (Master level) first prize. Adults are no better than kids at chess.”