By Amos Lum & Olimpiu G. Urcan

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Tin Jingyao during the 11th ASEAN Chess Championships. (Photo 1 © J. Petronic)

Olongapo City, Philippines, June 4-13, 2010 — Tin Jingyao, 9, of Nanyang Primary, won the only gold medal for Singapore in the 11th ASEAN + Age Group Chess Championships. held in Olongapo City, Philippines. Part of the 33-strong team representing Singapore, Jingayo won the medal during the Individual Classic Chess trial (Open U10 category, finishing with 7.5 points out of 9 games).

Two years ago, the now 9-year-old Tin Jingyao discovered the game of chess while playing computer games at his aunt’s house. He taught himself the rules by trial and error. Wanting to learn more, he was taken for a course at ASEAN Chess Academy, one of the private companies offering chess tuition services on the local market.

Soon after, Jingyao began to have all the right dreams children of his age habitually have: becoming a champion one day. Few of them however turned such dreams into reality quicker than Jingyao.

According to a recent entry on the Singapore Chess Federation’s website (SCF), Jingyao earned the FIDE Master title. According to FIDE (World Chess Federation) Handbook Regulations, such a title is also awarded to winners of the ASEAN Age Group Chess Championships. By date there are only approximately 5,600 FIDE Masters worldwide, the majority of them being adult players.

Jingyao’s talent has drawn the attention of experts: he is the country’s national chess champion for Open U11 category. During the recent national competitions he participated in, he scored extremely well even against adult, more experienced players.

At the recently concluded TCA Junior Chess Championships (organized by Serangoon Garden Country Club, 28 May 2010) Jingyao finished 10th in the overall standings in the Gold Section (mostly dominated by master players). In the very first round of that event, Jingyao drew FIDE Master Terry Chua, a 17-year-old Olympic team member.

During the National Blitz Championships ran by the Singapore Chess Federation in collaboration with the Mind-Sports Festival (26 June 2010), Jingyao finished 20th in a field of nearly-100 players, many of them International Masters, FIDE Masters, and National Masters.

Thus, Jingyao is currently rated as in the top-20 fastest chess players in Singapore and he shows no intention of stopping while giving lots of trouble to higher rated players.

The next day, June 27th, Jingyao took part in the 2nd National Junior Blitz Chess Championships where he finished first with a 100% score, scoring 9 points out of 9 games while disposing of a few far more experienced master-level players.

Tin Jingyao, who will turn 10 this July, is currently trained on private basis by International Master Luis Chiong, a coach hailing from the Philippines. Jingyao is a Primary 4 pupil of Nanyang Primary, a school renowned for cultivating top chess talent and offering its pupils a variety of mind-sports activities. Its strong school chess club is a top winner in all national junior chess competitions. Nanyang is recognized by the Singapore Chess Federation as the “Best Primary School” as a result of the school team’s achievements during the national inter-schools team chess championships.

Jingyao is also attending regular training courses as a member of the National Junior Squad (part of the FIDE-rated Silver elite group), a training program monitored by the Singapore Chess Federation. “The SCF considers our Silver Squad trainee Tin Jingyao to have high potential in junior chess, and a bright future both locally and internationally,” declared Mr Jovan Petronic, International Master, FIDE Senior Trainer and SCF’s Technical Director in an email interview.

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Tin Jingyao (left) holding FM Chua to a draw during the National Blitz Chess Championships 2010. (Photo 2 © Olimpiu G. Urcan)

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Tin Jingyao (middle) together with his other two fellow Nanyang chess players at the 11th ASEAN Age Group Chess Championships: Rachel Soh (left) and Derek Lim (right, a bronze medallist in the same event). (Photo 3 © A. Kuek)