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Don’t let her smile fool you!

Rachel Tao

Windsor teen off to chess championships in Mongolia
Alex Brockman
Aug 15, 2015 – 2:52 PM EDT
Last Updated: Aug 15, 2015 – 2:52 PM EDT

Don’t let Rachel Tao’s smile fool you.

On the chess board, she’s a stone-cold killer — mercilessly sacrificing rooks, capturing knights and putting hapless kings into checkmate with ease.

After a successful performance at the Canadian Youth Chess Championships in Windsor last month, the Massey high school student is preparing to compete in at the World Youth Chess U16 Chess Olympiad from Aug. 19-29.

Tao was hand picked to compete at the tournament by representatives from the Canadian Chess Federation and will be competing against players from 25 other countries in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.

At 16, Tao is already a seasoned veteran of the international chess scene. She finished third at this year’s North American championships and has a dresser full of trophies at home.

“I love chess, I love the planning aspect,” Tao said. “It’s especially fun when you play with guys and you beat them. That’s fun.”

Her games often last for four hours, with her preferred style being to sit back and wait for her opponent to make a mistake.

“When I was young I was aggressive, I only knew about tactics, I didn’t know about controlling squares. Now, I’m more of a slow-down player. I like to take my time,” Tao said.

After a recent game, she explained how every square has value, with the most important being the four squares in the centre of the board. Through this technique, she’s able to determine where and how an opponent is going to play.

Through tournaments, she’s been able to make friends from around the world. But once the pieces are on the board, it’s game time.

“I just try to flush away everything around me and block it away. It’s just me and my opponent,” Tao said. “I want to win for myself. That’s the most important thing, that I want to win, because if I don’t want to win, who else would want me to?”

While she’s hopeful she can have success at her upcoming tournament, she said her goals are focused on the longer-term. Ultimately, she wants to use her success to promote the sport to other young girls in the community.

“Girls usually drop out because they don’t think it’s cool or whatever, but I still love it and I really think girls should get into it,” Tao said.

“Chess is starting to become one of those main sports and I want to keep on promoting it, especially to girls out there.”

Full article here.

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