1. Thanks for letting us use your blog in order to keep the American and Canadian teams informed about the North American Youth Championship 2009, anything you want to say to both teams before we start this interview?
Yes, I want to tell everyone that I am blessed that my blog is being used for informational purposes for this tournament and may God Bless each parent and player on their trip to Mazatlan. I hope to meet everyone there.
2. In 2008, the North American Youth Championship was not held, but in 2007, you were the Official Representative of the United States in your first international tournament. Tell us about your experiences back then.
Well, Aguascalientes, Mexico was very pretty and I felt very comfortable in that city. It was a well run tournament. The Head of Delegation and the entire team were very friendly and helpful. I made lots of friends. I was 9-years old and playing in the under-10 category.
3. You won the gold medal after going undefeated in that tournament; did you think something like that would happen to you?
First of all, I did not believe I would win the gold medal because I drew in the 5th round with Mexican National Champion in a clear winning position for me, but when I found myself on board 1 in the last round, I thanked God for being in a position where I could win the tournament. I felt I was going to win a medal but in the last round I realized that I was in position to win the gold medal.
4. You were the only American in that category since Canada did not send a representative in the under-10, therefore it was you against 20-mexican girls, four of whom had just represented Mexico in the Pan American Youth Championship in Colombia. Did that intimidate you?
Not really, I believed in God that I would have a good result so I was not intimidated.
5. How would you characterize the level of the Mexican players being that you have played often against them?
Mexican players are excellent players. I think that in my case in particular several were overconfident with me because I did not have international experience at that time, but overall Mexican players are strong and should not be taken lightly. I realized later that winning for them meant financial sponsorships by their state governments in their chess development. So, they are fighting for a goal, to demonstrate to their states that they deserve financial sponsorships. In the United States it is very different.
6. Your entire family along with your grandmother were their to watch you win the gold medal for the United States, your grandmother had immigrated to the United States back in the 50’s from Mexico in order to obtain the American dream. What did it mean for you that your grandmother was there to witness this achievement? We ask because she just passed away four months ago.
It meant a lot for me because I know what she had gone through in her life when she arrived in the United States, especially because this was the first tournament she had ever seen me play. I was excited for her to see that two generations later, my win brought her joy because the United States was her adopted country.
7. We see you in this picture signing your WOMAN CANDIDATE MASTER Title. Explain the feelings you felt at the moment your were signing this FIDE document.
I felt excited. I always had a dream of the moment I would win a FIDE Title. I could not stop thanking God for that moment, but now I want more and with "more" comes more studying.
8. If you had to chose a member of the 2007 American team that really caught your attention, who would it be and why?
Raymond Sun because he had an outstanding performance, also because of his young age. He won the gold medal in the under-8. I heard he returned to China or something like that.
9. You are homeschooled, correct?
Yes, I am and it’s pretty cool because my parents make it fun for me. I also get to study more chess than most kids.
10. As an 11-year old girl, what advice would you give any participant that will make their debut in international chess in this North American Youth Championship 2009?
My advice would be to take the tournament serious; you have to believe in yourself that you can win the gold medal. It is important to take your time and analyze every move correctly. If you are winning on the board, avoid overconfidence. If you lose don’t get depressed over it. Listen and do what your coaches have asked you to do.
11. Your confidence from winning the North American Youth Championship 2007, helped you?
Yes, 90 days later I won the SUSAN POLGAR NATIONAL OPEN 2008 – undefeated. I came in 5th place at the ALL GIRLS OPEN 2008 in Dallas. Afterwards I went to the Pan American Youth Championship in Argentina where I won two games, drew four and lost three games, but I really learned from that experience.
12. Finally, what would you like to say to our readers?
I would tell every parent that every child has talents and if you pay attention to them, you will find additional talents. God bless you for the investment you are doing for your children. I also want everyone to know that there are other things that we need to focus on outside the chessboard – global warming is a big topic for me. Please help our planet to recycle. Please teach your children to recycle. Ok, I got that off my chest. Also, I thank you for reading my blog. SEE YOU IN MAZATLAN!