Since accidentally discovering the game of chess at 6 years old, Eddy Tian, a sophomore at Montgomery High School has come a long way to win the 2022 U.S. Chess Federation’s National K-12 Grades Championship in December – making him the best chess player for his grade level.
Tian’s national championship win follows his New Jersey state tournament win and his fourth-place ranking among high school state champions. With a rating of 2,481, Tian is recognized by the World Chess Federation as an International Master, the second-highest title attainable.
“After so many long hours practicing chess, it truly feels like my hard work is paying off,” Tian said.
Tian had previously won a national championship in fifth grade, playing many of the same opponents as he did last month. Tian noted that his experience this year was far better than his championship win five years ago, partly due to the “beautiful” view of the Maryland National Harbor.
“It’s a joy to interact with opponents after the game,” Tian said. “We’ll review the game, and analyze our moves together. It’s a tight-knit community that I’m so grateful to be a part of.”
Notwithstanding Tian’s big win, the national tournament was an opportunity for him to reflect on his playing style and improve his game.
“I’ve come to realize that it’s not necessary to play the best move all the time,” Tian said. “A game of chess is not won through playing great moves, it’s won through capitalizing on your opponent’s mistakes.”
This was quite the case when he faced off against his opponent in the final round. Finding himself in a tight position in the initial stages of the game, Tian was able to come back to win the game by taking advantage of his opponent’s blunders.
Tian plans on continuing his chess career, and has his eyes on the Chess World Open in Philadelphia this summer. He is in pursuit of the Grandmaster title, the highest recognition in chess, which will make him one of 2,000 chess players to ever reach that status.
In addition, Tian seeks to use chess as a vehicle for change. The founder of Checkmate Autism, he dedicates many of his hours after school to teaching children on the autism spectrum chess skills to improve cognitive development and social skills.