National chess master at 14
Lee impresses in state tourney
By KATHY MULADY
Michael Lee sits on the edge of his chair, bouncing the foot with the untied shoelace. The skinny 14-year-old in the Quicksilver shirt and corduroys rests his chin on his hand and stares steadily at the chessboard in front of him.
He is about to win a game that has lasted nearly five hours, clinching his reputation as one of the best chess players in Washington. Lee reaches out, smoothly moves a piece, then looks at his 22-year-old opponent, who saw it coming.
“He calculates well, he is patient, he has a lot of experience,” said competitor Joshua Sinanan. “And you are sitting across the board from a 14-year-old.”
The Washington State Chess Federation is wrapping up two weekends of competition, nine rounds of games, to determine the state’s champion chess player. The last game starts at 1 p.m. Monday.
About 30 expert players are competing, all men. And while chess is making a dramatic comeback at elementary and middle schools, it still isn’t drawing a lot of women, at least not competitively.
Players compete for rankings, prestige and a $3,000 pot of prize money.
Lee said his rare losses bother him, but he doesn’t let them get him down.
“If I don’t do so well, I replay it in my mind, but I try to get over it,” he said. “Sometimes I just make mistakes, and mistakes happen, sadly. I don’t let it affect the next game.”
But most games go in Lee’s favor.
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