Meet the Players: Andy Wang!

My name is Andy Wang, and I am currently in grade 5 at the Halifax Grammar School and living in Halifax. I have been playing chess for 5 years, but I’ve only been in the Nova Scotia Scholastic Chess Association (NSSCA) for 4 years. My current CMA rating is 1379, and I’m currently ranked number 4 in NSSCA. I have gone to the Canadian Chess Challenge three times (grade 1, grade 3, grade 4), and I also won the Saint John Open (CFC-rated regular chess tournament) in 2019.

Tell us about your journey into becoming a chess player. Was it a particular individual who inspired you or was chess something you found yourself?

I must thank my dad for introducing chess to me. The first time I ever saw a chessboard was when he took me to a beginner chess lesson because he wanted me to learn chess and have fun. My coach taught me chess and I began to play. My dad studied with me and was much better than me at first, being able beating me with while starting without his queen.

Eventually I stopped going to the lessons and only played chess about once a week for fun because I was getting more homework as I got older. Then after a few years, we moved to Nova Scotia and my dad registered me into the beginner section in the March Break Tournament by Don Bidgood at the Alderney Gate Public Library. I got first place in the tournament, and because the Nova Scotia Provincial Chess Team at that time didn’t have a grade 2 player, they accepted me on the team, even though I was grade 1.

I got 1.5 points at the Nationals in Regina, Saskatchewan, which I considered to be pretty good, because all the other players were 1 year older than me. After we went back to Nova Scotia my dad finally found out about the NSSCA and their events.

What is your favorite part of chess? Creating solid pawn structures? Finding checkmates against the enemy king? Figuring out complex endgame tactics?

My favorite part of chess is figuring out complex tactics and checkmating my opponent’s king. I like to sacrifice my pieces and checkmate my opponent when I can.

Who is your favourite chess player, and why?

My favourite chess player is Hikaru Nakamura. I like how he can swindle his opponents even if he is down a lot of material. He attacks really aggressively and likes to sacrifice pieces to checkmate his opponent. He is also arguably the best blitz and bullet player in the world. I like watching him play chess on his Twitch stream.

What is your favourite part about the NSSCA tournaments and events? Is it the competition? Or is it perhaps seeing your friends and socializing at tournaments?

I love to socialize with my friends and improve at the NSSCA tournaments, but my favourite part is when I can relax, play bughouse and do other fun chess activities at ChessFest, the end of year NSSCA chess event.

Do you have a favorite chess opening? If so, which one is your favorite and why?

My favourite chess opening is the Ruy Lopez (1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5). It is one of the most popular openings in the world. I like to play the Exchange Variation (3. … a6 4. Bxc6). It is very dynamic because black gets the doubled c-pawns but he has the bishop pair on an open board.

How far would you like to go in chess? Do you want to become a chess master or do you see yourself simply playing casually for fun?

I would really like to become an International Master eventually, but I would like to become a National Master before university.

Improving at chess can be difficult! Are there any things you do at home or with others that has helped you improve your chess skills?

I usually set aside about 30 minutes to an hour for chess a day. I do the deep practice from online chess school and I also have the updated version of My 60 Memorable Games from Bobby Fischer. I also do puzzles and play games on Chess.com.

How has playing the game of chess impacted other areas of your life?

At my school, a lot of people know I play chess because I’m one of the best chess players in my school, and my school has some good chess players. I can also think deeper in subjects that require calculation (math, for example).

Besides chess, what other sports or activities do you do?

Besides chess, I like to play badminton, baseball and soccer. I also like swimming and speed skating in the winter.

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