Madison 9-year-old named youngest American Chess Master - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Madison 9-year-old named youngest American Chess Master


MADISON (WKOW)-- It's often said that the game of chess takes a lifetime to master. Tell that to 9-year-old Awonder Liang.

After becoming the youngest American chess player to achieve "expert status" people started calling him a prodigy. Now, after becoming the youngest "Chess Master" in American history, players say there are simply no words to describe his talent.

When you watch him play, you can see it in his eyes. The focused concentration only the fiercest of competitors get as they scan the battlefield waiting to attack.

"He's a paradox," Van Hise Elementary Principal Peg Keeler says of her student. "There's just kind of this wise wisdom along with being a 9-year-old kid."

A 9-year-old who may not look intimidating on the outside, but inside, the mind of a master strategist is hard at work. He's taking the chess world by surprise by earning enough points to become the youngest Chess Master in American history. It's an honor only 1% of chess players can boast.

"My goal for playing chess currently is being a world champion," Awonder Liang says.

He's already world champion in his age group after winning the World Chess Championship in Brazil back in 2011. Now he's playing the adults. Sometimes during tournaments he's taking on players old enough to be his father or grandfather.

"I've been to Slovenia, Greece and Brazil," Liang says.

He's even catching the eye of some of the greats. He recently spent a few days in New York training with Garry Kasparov, arguably the greatest chess player of all time.

"Resilience is like, if there is one term to sum up the kid other than his name which says it all. He is a wonder," Awonder's teacher John Christopherson chuckles.

His teachers couldn't be prouder. Every time he travels his class work goes with him, but when he is home teachers say he's pretty much your typical 4th grade student.

"He's just one of our students and if you came during the school day he's just a kid. You wouldn't be able to pick him out," teacher Katie Mahr says.

Awonder first hit the international stage when was just 7-years-old. He placed 9th in the World Youth Championship in Greece. His family couldn't afford the trip so teachers decided to hold a dance at the school called "Awonderful Night. Through donations they were able to get him to the tournament and kick start his career.

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