Wednesday, January 6, 2010


By Caitlin Castello, Town Correspondent

Anya Corke was taught by her father how to play chess as a young child in Hong Kong. Now, at 19-years-old, she is the first women to play for the Boston Blitz, a local chess team which competes in the United States Chess League.

Corke, a Wellesley College freshman, has gone undefeated in Cambridge-based chess league since she joined.

"I was a little nervous about my first game for the Boston Blitz. I didn't want to disappoint, especially with the extra scrutiny of being the team?s first female player," said Corke, in a statement released by Wellesley College. "After being immersed at Wellesley for a month, it's a mild culture shock for my gender to be newsworthy."

Being the first women to play for the Boston Blitz is not Corke's first chess distinction.

At 14-years-old, she qualified for the woman grandmaster title at the men's Olympiad. At 9-years-old, she won the Hong Kong junior championship in 8-10-year-old category, according to the Wellesley release She holds three junior British titles, four Hong Kong championships and an Asian girl's championship.

"The competitive lifestyle is tough and you have to grow up a little faster, and maybe miss out on some of the typical teenage experiences, but I think the trade-off has definitely been worth it," Corke, who plans to double major in Russian and either Philosophy or English, said in a statement.

Over the winter break, Corke heads to the Czech Republic to represent England in two tournaments.

Corke normally dedicated 2-4 hours a day to chess practice before she started at Wellesley College. She now trains more sporadically, using books, databases and playing online with her coach in Moscow.

Caitlin Castello can be reached at

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