A Westwood High School teen is preparing for a major national chess competition. Emily Nguyen is heading to the U.S. Women's Championships in St. Louis to compete for $100,000 in prizes. The tournament is one of the most elite and Emily was one of about a dozen women of all ages invited.
Nguyen said she started learning how to play Chess at just 4-years-old, “When I was little I'd watch my dad and brother play,” she said. Fast forward about a decade, she's now ranked as 12th in the world with girls 16 and under and the strategic game for her isn't just about playing games. “Each day I just train an hour a day and sometimes I work on my calculation and sometimes I work on positional parts of the game,” she said.
Nguyen has won several competitions and competed worldwide in many different countries. “It's sort of satisfying to see the thousands or hundreds of rows of chess sets set up, it's a big room with everybody playing, it's a pretty sight to see,” she said.
So why chess? Nguyen said she loves the game because of the intense thinking, and strategy. She said she thinks ahead five to six moves and some of her games have lasted nearly 6 hours for her, which can be mentally exhausting but she couldn't imagine it not being in her daily routine. “I can't say there's really one thing that draws me to it, but I just know without that like life would be different and I would miss playing it,” she said. While there aren't many other kids her age playing chess, she said her friends think highly of her gaming skills, “They think it's really cool, (and) I'm a legend or something” she said.