A master in the art of checkmate

Ingrid Chan, Asst. Photo Editor

For Diamond Bar High School junior Queena Deng, the art of playing chess is more than just a hobby—it’s a family tradition.

“It’s a mental sport, a psychological game to see if you can outsmart your opponent,” Deng said via text message. “I love the complexity and various strategies involved. That’s what keeps chess interesting to me.”

 Both of Deng’s parents have a history in competing and are currently chess instructors. It was only natural for Deng and her little brother to develop into the talented players they are today.

As of right now, she has earned a Masters title–Woman FIDE Master is given only to girls who have a rating over 2100–and has won her division of the North American Youth Chess Championship. She also competed in the World Youth Chess Championship

Her parents taught her the basics from a young age, as she first stepped into the realm of chess when she was only four years old. Deng steadily improved her skills throughout the years, constantly practicing in clubs and at home.

 In elementary school, she was a member of the Arcadia Chess Club and competed for them. Now, she plays mostly for the chess school run by her parents: “Beyond Chess.”

Her most memorable experience in chess was during her freshman year when she decided to participate in the World Youth Chess Championship in 2015.

She had already been qualified to participate in the championship when she was younger, but never took the opportunity since it requires too much time and money. That year, however, her parents encouraged her to play because they wanted her to experience it at least once.

The championship was also to be held in Greece, which meant Deng would not only be exposed to competing internationally, but also to a completely different culture.

Although she didn’t place at the competition, she states that it was the most unforgettable three weeks of her life.

“There were a lot of people participating, and at times it did feel intimidating. I honestly kind of knew that I might not place anyway, so it wasn’t too much of a disappointment when I didn’t win,” Deng said. “Ultimately, I thought it was really cool just to meet other players from around the world.”

Deng is currently taking a break from chess in order to focus on school, but she intends to keep playing even in the future.

However, she plans to keep chess as more of a hobby because she isn’t very fond of the stress that comes with playing chess professionally—though she hopes to participate in tournaments in the future to keep her skills fresh.