CHELMSFORD, Mass. — Only three years or so since first picking up the game of chess, 9-year-old Carissa Yip can already look down at 93 percent of the more than 51,000 players registered with the U.S. Chess Federation.
She has risen so far up the rankings that she has reached the expert level at a younger age than anyone since the chess federation began electronic record-keeping in 1991, a new level she reached in recent weeks.
Her father, Percy, who taught her until she began beating him within a year, said she could reach master level in as soon as a year.
“Some never reach master level,” he said. “From expert to master, it’s a huge jump.”
But Carissa, who will be a fifth-grader at McCarthy Middle School this fall, has improved by leaps and bounds.
She first played competitively at the MetroWest Chess Club and Wachusett Chess Club, at the latter of which she’s the top-ranked player. Last fall, she competed in an international competition in Slovenia, and in December, she’ll play the World Youth Championships in the United Arab Emirates.
Carissa is hesitant when asked about her accomplishments, saying she doesn’t spend much time thinking about them.
But she also set a goal for herself this year to reach 2,100; an expert is anyone over 2,000. Anyone at 2,200 is a master. She also wants to one day become the first female to win the overall championship — not just in the female category, her father said.
“It’s not like the rating matters,” Carissa said.
She later demonstrated her ability by playing with her back to the board, reading her moves to her father and keeping track of the whole board in her head. She has been called an intimidating player in an ironic way, because she’s far short of even 5 feet tall.
Her U.S. Chess Federation ranking places her in the top 7 percent of all players registered with the group and the top 2 percent of female players.