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9th Grade Student Earns Second Place Against High Schoolers in Calgary Chess Tournament

At Flying Minds Education Center, we take immense pride in nurturing young talents, and Yijia Guo, also known as Aaron, is a shining example of the exceptional potential that lies within our chess club. Recently, Yijia participated in a local chess tournament for Calgary schools and students, securing an impressive second place in the Senior Division. What makes his achievement even more remarkable is that he is the youngest participant among the 20 senior students who competed in the event.

The Checkmate Foundation Tournament

The eagerly anticipated tournament, hosted by The Checkmate Foundation, a non-profit organization committed to making chess accessible for everyone in Calgary, took place in November. Yijia faced tough competition in the Senior Division, but his strategic prowess and dedication to improvement set him apart.

-Nov 24th 2023, Yijia Guo on the right (2nd Place)

The Ruy Lopez Opening

What truly caught the attention of both spectators and opponents alike was Yijia's adept use of the Ruy Lopez opening. This classic and aggressive opening is known for its focus on controlling the center of the board, making it a favorite among seasoned players. Yijia had only learned this opening a week prior to the tournament, showcasing not only his ability to quickly grasp new strategies but also his fearless approach to the game.

-Yijia ended up twice in this position with the white pieces, letting black take the center pawn on e4 in exchange for rapid development and opening a great file for the rook!

Strengths and Style of Play

Yijia's style of play is characterized by solid and principled moves, rarely deviating from established chess principles. His strength lies in strategic, well-thought-out moves that exploit opponents' weaknesses. While he acknowledges some weaknesses in the middle game, Yijia compensates with his impressive endgame comebacks, a testament to his resilience and determination on the board.

Going into the tournament, Yijia was very intimidated since he was the only 9th-grade student among high school students. He thought the tournament was going to be rather difficult to even win a few games. After the first game, which was a win, he was more hopeful and just kept moving forward and playing solid until the end. Achieving the second place made him feel surprised but also satisfied. But most importantly, his motivation for playing chess skyrocketed after participating in the tournament. Other than chess, Yijia likes to participate in game nights with friends. His favorite subjects in school are math and science.

The Journey at Flying Minds Chess Club

Before Yijia joined Coach John's Chess Class, he practiced about 1-2 hours every weekend at home. He knew how to play 2 openings but nothing specific, and his play was more defensive. His middle game was lacking too, not always looking out for tactics or missing opportunities.

Yijia joined our chess club earlier this year, and under the guidance of Coach John, our dedicated chess instructor and club manager, he embarked on a journey to refine his already impressive chess skills. John challenged Yijia three times a week with chess puzzles, studies of famous chess players and their games, and numerous practice matches. The rigorous training, challenging puzzles, and exposure to famous chess games have not only enhanced Yijia's skills but also broadened his understanding of the game. The commitment to honing his skills laid the foundation for his success in the tournament.


Yijia Guo's journey from a talented young player to a standout performer in the Calgary school chess tournament is a testament to the effectiveness of the training and mentorship offered at Flying Minds Education Center. As we celebrate our one-year anniversary, Yijia's achievements remind us of the incredible potential that exists within each student, waiting to be nurtured and developed. We look forward to witnessing more success stories and creating an environment where young minds can soar to new heights through the fascinating world of chess. Congratulations, Yijia, on your well-deserved success!

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