DOBBS FERRY, N.Y. -- Most 10-year-olds spend their time playing tag, video games or watching their favorite television shows. Nicholas Checa, a Dobbs Ferry fifth-grader, spends his time dominating the international chess circuits and is set to keep doing so, having been named to the U.S. Chess Federation’s 2013 All-American Team last week.
Checa, who is the third-highest rated 10-year-old in the country, said it is an honor to be chosen for the team. He is ranked in the top one percent of all chess players nationally under the age of 18 and ranked in the top three percent of all players in the country.
“There are a lot of great players and we all work very hard,” he said.
He began playing chess with his father and sister when he was four years old, and competed in his first scholastic tournament in 2009. Checa also recently qualified for the World Youth Championship, to be held in Maribor, Slovenia in three weeks.
“It was a big challenge and I am glad I made it,” Checa said. “I will be facing the best kids in the world in a couple of weeks.”
The All-American Team is made up of the best players across the country under 18-years-old and players are selected based on age, rating and other activities the child participates in, according to Checa’s father, who is also named Nicholas Checa. According to the U.S. Chess Federation, Checa is currently ranked as a “candidate master."
To prepare for his upcoming matches, Checa said he plans to strategize against his specific opponent and their playing style if he knows who they are before hand. If he doesn’t know them, he said he will study what he thinks could come up in the games. Checa said practices as much as he can, usually an hour per day.
“I enjoy the mental challenges and complications,” he said.