MADISON, WIS. (WMTV)-- His first name says it all. Awonder Liang has been a wonder in the game of chess since he was a young boy. Now he's heading off to compete with some of the best players in the world at the invitation-only U.S. Chess Championships at the Saint Louis Chess Club. He's only 15.
The chess Grandmaster and student at Madison West High School said, "With this tournament, it's a little different than the other events in which I normally play. In fact, it's actually the strongest tournament I've played in my entire life. The caliber of the players I'm about to face is much higher than what I generally face. That might sound a little bit scary, but I've prepared a long time for this event, so I'm going to come with the best that I've got and fight and play my best."
A bio provided by the St. Louis Chess Club listed some of Liang's many accomplishments. "Liang is the youngest player in the field this year, he is also a chess prodigy, who was the Under 11 Champion at the World Youth in 2011. He is the youngest American player to ever defeat an International Master, 2011, and Grandmaster, 2012, in a classical rated game. Liang broke the record of youngest American to ever earn an IM norm in 2014, and the next year broke the record for the youngest American to earn the IM title. When he won his Grandmaster title in 2016, he became the tenth youngest in the world to do so."
While winning $50,000 would be cool, Liang said, "It's mostly about being able to prove to myself that I too can be one of the best players in the United States and fight against some of the strongest players in the world. To me, it's mostly about having fun playing the game, and also really being able to test myself against some of the best players."
The total prize fund among the top 12 players is $194,000.
If he were to win the cash prize, he said he'd probably invest the money, or maybe think about buying a car. After all, he'll be able to drive in the next year.
If you want to follow Awonder Liang's progress, the 2019 U.S. Championships will be streamed live daily on here. The livestream features play-by-play and analysis. A link is attached to this article.