Med Academy Chess Prodigy Wins 2016 FIDE Master

Medical Academy Chess Prodigy Wins 2016 FIDE Master
Posted on 09/28/2016
This is the image for the news article titled Medical Academy Chess Prodigy Wins 2016 FIDE Master

For many, success comes later in life, but for others – including Priya Trakru, a sophomore at South Texas Academy for Medical Professions (Medical Academy) in Olmito – there is a different game plan.

Opportunities do exist for young aspiring females in the Rio Grande Valley, and Trakru, from Brownsville, has made it evident through achievements earned on a state, national and global level. 

Trakru, only 15, has traveled the world to compete in competitive chess tournaments.  She holds the coveted Women’s Fédération Internationale des (FIDE) Master and U.S. Champion for Girls Under 10 Title.  

At the age of six, Trakru fell in love with thinking, tricks and defining strategies— all skills a quality chess player should possess. 

She remembers going to chess class every Thursday when she was a first-grader – not always looking forward to playing the game, but always enjoying the thinking the game involved. She strongly believes that “thinking strategically” is the biggest factor involved in winning. 

Trakru’s latest Women’s FIDE Master had been a goal sought for nearly four years, and she described her victory as a “dream come true.”  In her quest for this title, she also earned a Women’s International Master norm at the competition.

To prepare for her victory in the North American Junior Under 20 Chess Championship, which she competed in in September, she spent the month of June practicing at a chess camp in New Jersey, and played in the North American Youth Chess Championship (16-18 Section) in August – placing second in her division.  Trakru also had an online coach from Poland to help instruct her, practicing via Skype three to four days a week for two-hour sessions. 

Trakru also used her experiences at the 2015 Girls Under 14 World Chess Competition in Greece and 2014 North American Youth Chess Championship (NAYCC) in New York to attain her goal of Women’s FIDE Master.  In order to qualify for a world competition, one must either win a North American Championship or a Girls Nationals, or have a rating of 1800 or better.  Trakru qualified with a rating of 2,050 (U.S. Chess Federation rating), only 150 points shy of a master rating of 2200.  

The World Competition in Greece was a 12-day tournament.  Trakru played in the Girls Under 14 tournament, where she placed 14th and tied for 8th out of 150 female competitors.  Placements are scored according to a tiebreak system, which is based on the ratings of each opponent – how well each opponent played, losses, wins and how many draws or ties a player had. 

“If one player has more wins, one’s tiebreaks are better than having one win, and one loss is better than having two draws, even though they both equal one point,” said Trakru.  “I had a few more draws than the other female competitors did, so I, in turn, had the lowest tiebreaks, resulting and technically putting me in, 14th place.”

Trakru to this day cannot believe she did as well as she did competing against 150 female competitors at a global level. 

“It came down to the final round essentially,” said Trakru.  “I didn’t really believe I was going to win, but I played the way I thought was best.  I didn’t think about winning or losing, oddly enough.  All I thought was 'Hey let’s just play chess.'  I had to tell myself it was just a game, and if I lost, all would be okay.  After winning the final round, I didn’t think the win would move me up as much as it did.  I was previously in 20th place, and winning that final round got me tied for 8th-place.” 

Trakru’s opportunity to reach her next big goal of receiving the Women’s International Master Title will come in June of 2017, as she plans to compete at the North American Youth Under 18 Chess Championship in New York City.  She also hopes to earn a master rating of 2200—attainable at any tournament play. 

Trakru credits a lot of her success as a competitive chess player and student at a rigorous high school to her parents, coaches and teachers, and the lessons learned in the making of those successes. 

As busy as her practice regime is, she still manages to devote time to her studies and participate in extra-curricular activities at Medical Academy.  In fact, chess has played a fundamental role in her success in the classroom. 

“Chess requires so much analytical thinking that it makes everything else in life and in my studies make sense.  I am able to make those connections almost immediately.”

“I learned basic algebra because of chess.  Graphing was a main part of algebra I, and I found it fairly easy because it’s exactly what a chessboard is—a graph.  You just have to know how to plot and how to plot effectively.” 

The young chess phenomenon has a long road ahead of her.  She aspires to be a doctor and follow in her parents’ footsteps, but before her dream of becoming a doctor comes true, she plans on getting a head-start in the world of medicine and medical care by going into either the emergency medical technician (EMT) or medical assisting (MA) program as a student at Medical Academy.  

She sees this opportunity as another ‘connection’—much like chess—that will, in turn, set her apart from her competitors. 

“Chess is only logic, so if you have logic and reasoning, academic success comes much easier, but only through continued practice and a vision for constant growth,” said Trakru.