Chess Children


While some children may play chess for a year or less, others stick with the game. It’s fun to see them grow, both taller and as chess players. In this article, I highlight two chess-playing children and their mom.

Crusader Chess
Alexey, Anneliese, Klaus in 2017

In 2014, I presented about chess at two public library branches in El Paso, Texas. Attending the presentations were Renate Garcia and her two children, Anneliese and Klaus. I also met Renate’s husband Igor. Igor serves in the US Army National Guard. When Igor is away on active duty, Renate is in charge of the home front, which includes chess. At first, in 2012, Renate just brought Klaus to tournaments. When his younger sister also started to play in tournaments, Renate began coaching chess at branches of the El Paso Public Library. As she told me, her running the library chess clubs (and monthly tournaments during the school year) allows children who don’t have chess at their schools to still be part of an organized chess group. Renate named the group Crusader Chess Club. Check it out on Facebook to learn more about this club, which does not charge any money for club meetings or for tournaments. Renate found a sponsor, The Dental Ark, to provide medals for the tournaments. Renate also coaches chess at her daughter’s school, Vista Hills Elementary School.

Since El Paso is a nine-hour drive from Dallas, I do not see the Garcia family often. So I make sure to get a photo each time with Klaus and Anneliese. For the first photo, in October of 2014, eleven-year-old Klaus was shorter than me. For the second photo (in March of 2017), Klaus was already taller than me. In our last photo, taken September 1, 2018, 10-year-old Anneliese is now up to my shoulder.

Her chess also shows growth. Check out the way she finished her first-round game in the K-12 Scholastic (under 1000 section) of the 84th annual Southwest Open. You may want to solve the position first (White to move) before looking at what Anneliese played.

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. Nd5 Nxd5 5. exd5 d6 6. Bc4 Bg4 7. O-O Bxf3 8.Qxf3 c6 9. dxc6 Rf8 10. cxb7 Nc6 11. Qxc6+ Ke7 12. d4 Rb8 13. dxe5 f5 14. Bg5+

{[#] The best move, according to Stockfish, an open source chess engine. From a human point of view, this is also fantastic, as it brings the bishop from doing nothing on c1 to being a key part of a checkmate on g5.}

Rf6 15. exf6+

{Once again, the correct move. This one is easier to find, as it makes sense to win a rook for the cost of a pawn.}

gxf6 16. Rae1+ {[#] Either rook to e1 is equally good. Good for Anneliese bringing yet another piece into the blistering attack on the black king! She also had to see that giving up the exchange (giving up a rook for a minor piece, in this case for a bishop) is worth it here.}

Bxe1 17. Rxe1+ Kf8 18. Bh6#

{What a beautiful two-bishop checkmate! It’s true the rook on e1 is also helping, but the bishops are definitely doing their part too.} 1-0

You can also download Garcia-Horng and replay it in SparkChess.

WIM Alexey Root, PhD

Alexey Root is a Woman International Master and the 1989 U.S. Women's chess champion. Her peak US Chess rating was 2260. She has a PhD in education from UCLA. You can find her books on chess on