May 27, 2002
Six-year-old kindergartner finds success in the world of chess tournaments
by Deborah Stone
Six-year-old Bobby Luo of Woodinville has taken to the game of chess in a big way. He only began learning the game last fall at the Evergreen School in Seattle, where he currently attends as a kindergartner, but it didn't take him very long to catch on to the basics.
During this after-school activity, for one hour a week, Bobby mastered the moves of each of the pieces and began applying strategy in his games with other kids.
"He really picked up the game quickly and surprised others with his ability to analyze moves," comments Bobby's father, Ping Luo. "He's a bright child who learns many things quickly, but with chess, he just really understood the game early on. It seemed to come easily to him."
No one in Bobby's family had ever played chess before Bobby began learning the game, so he didn't have any opportunity to play games at home, but he continued to play with kids of all ages at school, trying to practice as much as possible.
In March he entered his first tournament, held at Woodinville High School, and placed fourth in the K-6 division.
"It was a great opportunity for him to play against older children and be successful," says Luo. "At first, my wife and I had our doubts about him entering a tournament at his age, but there were other children from his school entering the tournament and several of their parents encouraged us to let him go and have fun. It turned out that it was a great experience for him and he enjoyed the competition."
The state tournament followed where Bobby placed second in the kindergarten division and took home a large trophy for his efforts.
According to his father, Bobby couldn't stop smiling all day. "Before the tournament I had told him just to have fun and remember to believe in himself," says Luo. "It was important for me to remind him that this was for fun."
The national tournament followed the state tournament and it was held recently in Portland. Although Bobby didn't place in the final standings, he enjoyed the experience of playing with many different children from all over the U.S.
He continues to play at school and now at home, as he has begun teaching his father the fundamentals of the game.
"I'm the student and he's my teacher," comments Luo. "I wanted to learn the game so that I could understand it better."
Bobby is also getting private lessons from his chess coach at Evergreen and plans to enter more tournaments in the future.
Chess, however, isnít Bobby's only interest. He is an active, energetic child with a myriad of interests ranging from baseball and soccer, to playing the piano and swimming.
"He just wants to try and do everything," says his father, "and his mother and I just try and keep up with him."