Just three years after learning the game, Carissa Yip, 9, is the youngest expert registered with the U.S. Chess Federation since they began electronic record-keeping in 1991.
Yip, a rising fifth-grader at McCarthy Middle School in Massachusetts, ranks in the top 7 percent of the more than 51,000 players registered, and the top 2 percent of female players.
An expert is any player with a rating of 2,000, and at 2,200 a player becomes a master. Yip hopes to reach 2100 this year, but, she added, "It's not like the rating matters."
Her father, Percy, says he taught her the game and played with her until she began beating him within a year. "Some never reach master level," he said. "From expert to master, it's a huge jump."
Nonetheless, he believes his daughter could reach master level in as soon as a year. She has three years to reach master rank in time to beat the record, held by Irina Krush, who became a master at age 12.
To demonstrate her skills, Carissa played a blind game against a local reporter -- with her back to the chessboard -- reading her moves out to her father, and keeping track of each play in her head.
George Mirijanian, program director for the Wachusett club where Yip sometimes plays, and past president of the Massachusetts Chess Association, said Carissa and Percy Yip received a standing ovation when they returned to the club after she reached expert.
"In my more than 50 years with the club, I had never witnessed such an exuberant outburst from club members," Mirijanian said. "They are really proud of Carissa and what she has accomplished."