12-year-old prodigy bucks chess trend 0
Ashley Tapp, a 12-year-old chess prodigy, takes on all challengers at the Fair at the PNE to raise money for a trip to Slovenia so she can represent Canada at the World Youth Chess Championship. (CARMINE MARINELLI/24 HOURS)
Ashley Tapp doesn't mind being the only girl at chess tournaments.
In fact, she relishes the chance to take on all those boys who expect to beat her simply because she is a girl.
The 12-year-old Vancouver prodigy is determined to compete against the world's best this November in Slovenia. The straight-A student just needs to scrounge together enough money to enter the World Youth Chess Championship.
Ashley was fundraising at the PNE Monday afternoon by playing any fairgoers willing to donate money and go head-to-head against Canada's second-best chess-playing girl under 12.
"I like to be challenged when you play chess," she told
24 hours moments before beating three adults in a matter of minutes.
She's raised nearly $1,000 hawking freezies and selling DVD tutorials on behalf of some of the world's best female players. She still needs another $6,000 for the trip to Europe.
Ashley's mother Sophia said her daughter has dedicated her life to the game after discovering a library chess club when she was eight.
The Grade 7 General Gordon Elementary School student has gone so far as to cut meat from her diet and sip special juices in the morning to maximize her brainpower.
Sophia insists Ashley is still a kid at heart, noting she's been eyeing the 65-metre tall Atmosfear ride at PlayLand.
But time spent fundraising means fewer hours in the day training.
"She's got a passion for chess and she needs the opportunity," Sophia said. "It's a girl doing this and girls have had a hard time playing chess."
For Sophia, her daughter's resolve to raise money for the Slovenia trip just emphasizes how much impact Ashley can have on other Canadian chess players wishing to compete.
"She's a role model now for girls."
Ashley is at the PNE's Celebration Plaza all week 1 to 4 p.m. playing against anyone who thinks they can best her.