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Thursday, September 3, 2009

Simone Liao in the News

@djdallas40 from Twitter posted an article by Dennis McCarthy in the Los Angeles Daily News about Simone Liao, 10, who just came back from Argentina with one more medal, congratulations!

You can read the article below "Chess Phenom to meet her match" (original link here) and also make sure to visit Simone's blog to encourage her to continue to do so well. As we know chess is very useful for kids, it helps them do well at school and succeed at whatever they do in life.

If Simone reads this post, please email me, and I will send you a free chess gift!

All my best wishes to Simone,
Alexandra Kosteniuk
Women's World Chess Champion

Original Article:

Simone is a 10 year-old growing up in Agoura Hills. She is more into reading, writing and art than maths and logic. Simone had never seen a chess set until second grade when she enrolled in an after-school beginner chess program provided by Willow Elementary School in Agoura, after she exhausted all the "interesting" after-school classes like clay making, wood shop, crafting, etc.

Don't let her young age and friendly demeanor fool you, her coaches say. The kid has the heart of a champion and the brains to match.

She'll steal your queen, knock over your king, and be relaxing on the couch watching cartoons on TV before your seat's even warm.

Simone Liao is that good. At 10.

The Agoura Hills girl just returned from Argentina with a gold medal in her age bracket at the Pan-American Youth Chess Championships attended by players from 17 countries.

She had something to prove. Last year, she won the silver. Not this year.

"Going for the gold creates a lot of stress and requires extreme focus," says Beatriz Marinello, U.S. Youth Team coach and former president of the U.S. Chess Federation.

"Simone demonstrated that excelling at competitive chess involves more than talent and hard work, but also a winning mentality, which she definitely possesses."

She's an out-and-out champion, says Aviv Friedman, head of the U.S. Chess Delegation and coach of the U.S. team.

"She has fantastic talent and work ethic, which propels her to one success after another," he says. "What a bright future she has in chess."

Who knew? No one in Simone's family ever played chess, and if she hadn't signed up for the after-school program at Willow Elementary School a few years ago, she wouldn't have either.
"They had clay making, wood shop and craft classes, but I got kind of bored with them," Simone says.

"Then one day a man showed up with a chess set and wanted to know if anyone would like to learn to play. I found it interesting."

The next day, her dad, Sheldon, went out and bought his daughter a chess set. Then she signed up for Saturday chess classes in the Thousand Oaks Park and Rec Center, and began devouring chess strategy books one after another.

"She never shied away from competing against and learning from players with 20-plus years of experience," Sheldon says.

By the time she hit 10, it was the experienced players shying away from playing her.
"She's a sweetheart, free-spirited and fun to be around," says Sandi Pope, Simone's fifth-grade teacher at Willow.

"But it would be a big mistake to underestimate her. She's a stealthy player, far more astute and mature than you'd give her credit for.

"I reaped the benefits as a teacher. As she developed chess strategies, she began to think at a higher level of critical thinking in all her subjects."

What the future holds is still unclear, Simone says. She's only 10.

In November, she travels to Turkey with the U.S. Youth Chess Team for another international event - matching chess strategies with kids her age from all over the world - and winning.
"I think I'd like to be a doctor when I grow up," Simone said Wednesday, getting ready for sixth-grade at Lindero Canyon Middle School.

"Or maybe a lawyer."

Or maybe just the world's best chess player.

Posted by Alexandra Kosteniuk
Women's World Chess Champion
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