National chess master at 14
Lee impresses in state tourney

By KATHY MULADY
P-I REPORTER

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.

Here is the full article.

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