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Sunderland chess players take on the world

Playing chess against 120 people from 24 countries is a novel way to spend a weekend – but that’s precisely what ACG Sunderland students Sophia Feng, Anya Thurner and Yolanda Chang recently did.


The three girls competed in the FIDE Asian Under 14 Teams Championships, an online international competition that challenged both their chess skills and their abilities to concentrate and remain focused long past usual bedtimes.

The strong ACG Sunderland contingent earned an outstanding three of five spots in the New Zealand Girls Under 14 representative team. Their selection highlighted the incredible level of talent at the school and showed just how popular this strategic game has become.

The girls played three rounds each – on Saturday, Sunday and Monday nights.

Ten-year-old Sophia played against fellow chess-lovers from Palestine, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Thailand, Bahrain and Oman, achieving three wins, two draws and just one loss.

“I was so pleased with my results, and I enjoyed how I got to play against different countries,” says Sophia, who has been playing competitive chess for the past three years.

“The most challenging part of the tournament was that I had to stay up to around 12:30pm. It was hard because I had school the next day and I got very tired!”

With players from all corners of the globe participating, scheduling late-night games was inevitable.

However, despite the time-zone differences, teammate Anya believes they all learned a lot from the tournament.

Scoring 4.5 out of 9 in the competition, Anya pragmatically says, “I’m okay with my results; it’s exactly halfway! I enjoyed the wins I had, but our rounds usually lasted from 7:30pm to 1am, making it hard to stay awake. The players didn’t all speak the same language either, so occasionally, communication got a bit confusing. But it was a good experience, and I hope to compete in more online international tournaments in the future.”

Although chess prodigy Yolanda felt she didn’t play to her usual standard, she enjoyed watching all the games and cheering on her team. And like every good sportsperson, she’s taking everything she learnt from the experience and using it to improve her gameplay.

“I let my mood affect my games in this competition – I have to make sure that next time I play a tournament if I lose the first round, I don’t let it affect the following rounds.”

Yolanda is certainly not letting the disappointment of one competition tarnish her passion for the game.

“I’m going to go to lots more tournaments to practice my chess skills and keep having fun with my friends in Chess Club at lunchtime.”


For additional profiles and articles on the success of our students at ACG Sunderland, please visit the following: When science and art collide and Building blocks for the future