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Whiz Kids: 8-year-old Plays Chess Like a Master

Naomi Bashkansky recently placed second in a North American chess championship for girls.

Name, age: Naomi Bashkansky, 8.

School and Neighborhood: Naomi just finished second grade at and will be starting third grade in the fall. She lives in Redmond.

Accomplishments: A talented chess player, Naomi finished second in the Girls Under 8 division at the 2011 North American Youth Chess Championships, held last June in Tarrytown, New York.

“It’s a great achievement for her,” said Guy Bashkansky, Naomi’s father.

Naomi has also qualified to represent the USA in the Girls Under 8 division at the 2011 World Youth Chess Championships, which will be held in Brazil in November. Naomi admits to having some nerves about the competition but said she has high hopes for her performance there.

“I’m hoping to win first place,” she said.

Naomi and her brother Ethan, also a talented chess player, are the top-ranked players in the Northwest in their age groups.

Key to awesomeness: Naomi got into chess after watching her older brother play. She began to learn from him and eventually undertook formal training, both at chess schools and with a private coach.

To hone her skills, Naomi practices and plays everyday. “She works hard,” said Ludmila Bashkansky, Naomi’s mother. “She is doing something everyday with chess.” 

Naomi especially likes it when that hard work turns into wins and trophies. “I like to win,” she said.

Naomi and her brother travel all over the country for tournaments. Chess keeps everyone busy, but they make it a fun, family adventure.

“We travel a lot, and usually all four of us go,” Guy said.

And while chess is serious business for Naomi and her brother, they do get up to normal brother and sister trouble on the road. “They torture each other on the road,” Guy said.

Naomi’s chess smarts extend to school as well, where she enjoys math and P.E. She enjoys anything active, is involved in dance and loves to ride her bike.

Naomi also enjoys playing video games. Chess video games, of course, but also dancing games like Dance Central and sports games.

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