Naomi Bashkansky will compete in the World Youth Chess Championship this month in Caldas Novas

Naomi Bashkansky will compete in the World Youth Chess Championship this month in Caldas Novas

Redmond’s Naomi Bashkansky to compete in World Youth Chess Championship in Brazil

Naomi Bashkansky began playing chess when she was 5 and has worked her way up to the top of the game.

Naomi Bashkansky began playing chess when she was 5 and has worked her way up to the top of the game.

Now 8, the Redmond resident and John James Audubon Elementary School third grader is competing in this year’s World Youth Chess Championship, which began this week in Caldas Novas, Brazil and runs through Nov. 27.

To qualify for the competition, Naomi had to be among the top three girls in her age group, as rated by the U.S. Chess Federation (USCF).

“You have to qualify at a certain level,” said father Guy Bashkansky. “Then you have to be at the top.”

Naomi and her family learned she had qualified last spring. Before leaving for Brazil this week, Naomi said she was excited “because it’s the world chess championship.”

She said the thing she is looking forward to most is just playing chess.

Naomi’s love for the game came from her brother, who is five years older.

“I thought it would be interesting to also play chess,” she said.

Although both Naomi and her brother play chess competitively, chess is not something that runs in the family. Guy and wife Ludmila Bashkansky said they both know how to play, but never pushed the game on their children. They said their son initially became interested by accident. Naomi’s brother had seen people playing the game and wanted to join in, thinking it was checkers. When he discovered they were playing a different game, he immediately wanted to learn.

Naomi’s mother, Ludmila said she initially tried teaching her daughter chess when she was 4, but Naomi had trouble grasping things. When Naomi turned 5, she got the game immediately. Ludmila said waiting for the right time and not pushing was key.

“It’s important to see when the kids are ready,” she said.

While learning to play, Naomi said her brother would take it easy on her and occasionally let her win. Now however, the two siblings both play to win. Ludmila added that by the time they were 6, both of her children could beat her and her husband at chess.

Once Naomi got to school, she joined Audobon’s chess club, which gave her the opportunity to face other opponents besides her brother. Naomi also worked with an instructor who also worked with her outside of school.

Naomi began competing in chess tournaments immediately, participating in competitions in New York, Atlanta, Florida and Dallas in addition to local tournaments in the Pacific Northwest. She has competed in Vancouver, British Columbia as well, but all of her tournaments have mostly been against her peers in North America.

This month’s competition will be her first major international competition.


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