Young Philadelphia Chess Players Match Wits With Elite Chinese Team

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Some brilliant young chess players from China on their way to a big tournament in the U.S., shared some of their best moves with a group of Philadelphia kids at the National Constitution Center.

The Philadelphia youngsters are involved in the After School Activities Partnerships, or ASAP, which offers chess, debate, Scrabble and drama. ASAP’s Martin Collette says there were six Philadelphia students on the team, matching wits against the elite Chinese youth team.

‘These guys live and breathe chess,” said Collette. “They’ll play any day of the week, anytime. Some of them this summer will just wake up and jump into a chess game.’

Like 14-year-old Mateo, the leader of the chess team at Esperanza Academy, sitting across the table from a highly rated Chinese youngster.

“You get an opportunity to play people from another country. This is like an international match,” said Mateo.

Tian Qiu, the manager of the Chinese team, said through translator Bin Chen, they were excited for the wonderful opportunity.

“It’s very necessary for us to learn and share our strategies and tactics. We are very glad to share our experiences with our opponent,” said Qiu.

Both teams say the matches transcend international borders.

A worldwide chess ratings system distinguishes the strength of a players’ skill, and the Chinese chess team’s players have ratings between 1800-2000. Sizing up an 1800 vs 800 matchup, Mateo uses a college basketball analogy.

“Like the top team from the 1st division playing a middle of the table team from the 2nd division,” said Mateo.

Not to be unkind, but a KYW newsroom basketball aficionado says it would be like Villanova vs Holy Family.

We’re told that among aspiring chess players, a player rated 200-points higher than his or her opponent might win 3 out of 4 games.

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