Queens 12-Year-Old Has Eyes On One Day Being Chess Grandmaster

A 12-year-old girl from Queens is becoming a rising star at chess. CBS2's Kiran Dhillon reports.

Video Transcript

- A little girl in Queens is becoming a rising star in chess.

- Yes, and she says that her love of the game has helped her through the pandemic. CBS 2's Kiran Dhillon has more.

JESSICA P.: It helps me think better. It helps me focus on things better also.

KIRAN DHILLON: There are many things Queens student Jessica P. Loves about chess-- primarily how the game forces her to think strategically.

JESSICA P.: You have to think like three moves ahead. You have to memorize, like, a bunch of different openings and variations. They can help you in real life, you know, help you in school, help you with doing basic things.

KIRAN DHILLON: The seventh grader, who moved to the US a few years ago from Guyana, adopted her father's love for the sport. She's been playing competitively for two years now and says chess has helped her through the pandemic.

JESSICA P.: Teachers assign a lot of assignments, and it's kind of stressful, but you know, chess gives me something to, like, depend on. So after a long day, I know that when I'm done, like, school and everything, I can just go, you know, play a chess game, relax, and enjoy it.

KIRAN DHILLON: And while the pandemic has forced many students to shift their games online, Jessica hasn't let that slow her down. She's competed in several virtual tournaments, including taking first place in one Thursday.

RACHAEL GAZDICK: Jessica actually has a higher ranking than most adults do in the chess world.

KIRAN DHILLON: Rachael Gazdick is with New York Edge, that runs the school programming at Jessica's school and many others across the city. Gazdick says going virtual has had its challenges, but also some positives.

RACHAEL GAZDICK: The kids now get to play with each other weekly, as opposed to maybe doing it-- like having a tournament once a month.

KIRAN DHILLON: Jessica loves that she's been able to play more often. For anyone who hasn't played, she has this message.

JESSICA P.: It's really fun. You should try it. It can actually improve your intelligence, your academics.

KIRAN DHILLON: The young girl's goal is to one day become a grandmaster, the highest title one can achieve in chess, and from the looks of it, she's well on her way. In Midtown, Kiran Dhillon, CBS 2 News.

- Keep going, Jessica! You'll get there.

- And from Queen's. The Queen's Gambit.

- Queen's Gambit, yes.

- She's on her way.