Jackie Peng, 14, becomes second youngest player ever on Canada’s national chess team

Nadine Kalinauskas
·Good News Writer

A Richmond Hill, Ontario, teen will be competing at the World Chess Olympiad in Turkey this August.

Jackie Peng, 14, started playing chess four years ago. She's now the second youngest player ever to play on a Canadian national chess team — Stefanie Chu, who made the team at the age of 13 in 1996, holds the record for youngest player — and is on her way to becoming Canada's first female grandmaster, the Toronto Star reports.

"She's on a rampage," said Hal Bond, Canada's delegate at the World Chess Federation. "She's one of our rising stars and it's great to see."

"She could be Canada's first female grandmaster, no problem," Jura Ochkoos, one of Peng's teachers, told the Globe and Mail. "She's hard-working, has a good memory and a determination to win. In chess, you need to have a killer instinct, and she has it. But I would like her to work more."

In 2011, Peng emerged as champion in both amateur and junior chess competitions in Canada. In 2012, she took third place at a Pan-American girls under-12 championship in Brazil.

See a list of her chess accomplishments here.

Peng, who also plays piano, swims, and maintains straight As, studies chess for two to three hours a day using computer programs in addition to a weekly coaching session and a twice-a-month online consultation with a Montreal-based grandmaster coach.

Peng says that playing at tournaments is fun — the studying isn't:

"Studying chess is the hard part. This is my first tournament playing not just for myself but for Canada, so I've got to put in a lot of work before it starts," she told the Globe and Mail.

Her parents, who don't play chess, have been very supportive of Peng's chess-playing, even buying a small condo closer to the competitive University of Toronto Schools (UTS) where Peng studies. The shorter commute time allows Peng to have enough time to both study chess and maintain her good grades.

"Chess has to do a lot…with life," Jackie told the Toronto Star.

"You have to choose your move and the move that you make decides the game. So you can't really take the moves back. There's a lot of calculation and you have to think."