Forest Hills second-grader qualifies for international chess tournament in Greece

Photo courtesy U.S. Chess National

Second-grader Amelie Phung is on her way to play chess in South America and finally Greece, while still making time for recess, class and some golf.

Seven-year-old Amelie of Forest Hills just finished a national chess tournament in California, where she traveled with her father, Tam, over the weekend. And after finishing with a qualifying ranking, she will now be representing the USA at the World Chess Championship in Greece later this year where she will face off against the world’s best junior chess players. In the meantime, she’ll make a quick stop in Columbia during the summer for a few rounds against children across the Americas under the age of 8.

“We’re using California and Columbia as a launching pad into the world,” Tam said. “She was able to hold her head above water in California and it’s paying off now with this trip to Greece. An absolute honor.”

Amelie’s adroit moves on the board were a hidden talent until she recently began to demonstrate exceptional skill over casual games against a group of regulars at her local park.

To hone Amelie’s growing skill, her father hired Irina Krush to coach her. An American chess international Grandmaster, Krush is known for her instructional videos called “Krushing Attacks” and when she’s not playing chess she’s teaching the game to Amelie at the Marshall Chess Club in Manhattan.

Amelie’s rating is currently around 1,200 and to be a Grandmaster, your rating has to be at least 2,600. For Amelie’s age group, maintaining a 1,200 by Jan. 1 was needed to qualify for the world tournament.

“I think we’re going to have to start rethinking Amelie’s future if she keeps demonstrating such a talent for chess,” Tam said.