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Midwest City chess prodigy hopes to become grandmaster

Advait Patel, of Midwest City, is only 11 but is the No. 2-ranked chess player in the nation in his age group and is a three-time elementary school national champion.
by Matt Patterson Published: July 2, 2014

Advait Patel might be the best young chess player in all of Oklahoma, and at just 11 years old, he’s only going to get better.

His family recently moved to Oklahoma from West Virginia. He brings with him a No. 2 ranking nationally in his age group. He has held that ranking for about six months. He is a three-time elementary school national champion and recently won the Oklahoma Chess Association state championship.

His interest in chess was piqued during a visit to India when he was 7. He spent two months playing the game with his grandfather.

“There wasn’t much else to do,” Patel said.

He has played the No. 1-ranked player three times, with each game ending in a draw. The most recent game was last month in New York.

Before tournaments, Patel spends hours studying opponents online. He learns their preferred strategies and studies their tendencies. It’s not unlike the way a football coach would prepare for an opposing team.

“There are definitely styles I like to play,” Patel said. “One of the guys I’ve beaten — he likes to play theoretical, so I played something that took him out of his comfort zone, and he didn’t know how to respond. Book moves are easy to play against, but when someone is aggressive or quiet, you just have to play.”

Summer is fun for Patel. There’s no school, and he can spend hours playing online. He will be in eighth grade in the fall, having skipped third grade. And despite being the youngest person in his school, he has fit in.

“People treat me like they would any other kid,” he said. “I’m treated the same.”

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by Matt Patterson
Matt Patterson has been with The Oklahoman since 2006. Prior to joining the news staff in 2010, Patterson worked in The Oklahoman's sports department for five years. He previously worked at The Lawton Constitution and The Edmond Sun....
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