Chess phenom takes on the world
Jason Cao has checked his way to Greece.The nine-year-old Saanich resident is in Halkidiki, Greece for a two-week stay where he will represent his country and his age group at the World Youth Chess Championships.
For a Grade 5 student with only two years of chess experience and no formal coach, his progression has been amazing.
“He has progressed faster than most players his age because he has more potential than most players,” said Brian Raymer, Victoria Junior Chess president.
“He is a good player. He has a good chance at the world championships to have a good finish.”
This year’s WYCC tournament boasts the largest turnout of players ever, with more than 80 countries involved and more than a 100 players in his under 10 age group alone.
Cao will be one of 24 Canadians at the tournament but the only one from Vancouver Island and only the fourth in Island history to qualify for the event.
“He is very keen and enthusiastic loves the game, has fun, he has got the right attitude,” Raymer said.
“I think it is great that he is representing Canada and that he is from Victoria, we are sure he is going o have fun and do well … By making it to the world's he as has already achieved great results.”
The young Cao is deep in preparations for the tournament leaving school at noon everyday instead of the normal 3 p.m. to come home to practice chess, a routine he has followed for three weeks leading up to the event.
Training four to five hours every day has been grueling for the Campus View elementary school student but his confidence is high.
“I didn’t think I could get really good and go to the world championships, but I think I have improved,” Cao said. “My thoughts were wrong and I might be able to get first.”
He will play one match every day from Oct. 20 to 31 missing Halloween in order to follow his dream. With each match expected to last approximately four hours, he knows he has to be mentally prepared for battle.
“It pays off to study … When you are finished a tournament and you done really well because you beat a lot of strong players you feel happy,” he said.
“I am hoping to get a grand master title (one of the highest honors in chess) when I am about 15. If I am a really good grand master then my goal is to become world champion.”