Chad Bryan, Youthlink Writer
Fourteen-year-old Rachel Miller, a student of Campion College, is a chess player extraordinaire who applies lessons and strategies from the game to her life and schoolwork; chess helps to keep her focused, she said.
Miller explained that her introduction to the sport began at age nine, two years before she was to sit the Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT).
"At the time, a new chess club was introduced to my school and my parents pushed me to join because I was going to take GSAT. They believed that the game would help me perform better in the exam and I am glad to say that it contributed to my overall score," Miller pointed out.
Chess imbues an individual with the ability to think critically before making accurate and precise decisions, as well as gives the confidence to take certain risks.
"Chess has exposed me to different ways of thought and has taught me to never underestimate anyone," said Miller, who is involved in a number of clubs including the Chess, Key and Christian Living clubs.
Though chess has no physical regimen, as one would expect of other sporting activities, Miller pointed out that she keeps her mind active. She also mentioned that she eats lightly so that she may be able to focus.
"I usually eat something light so I won't get hungry while concentrating. Afterwards, I solve chess problems to get rid of the cobwebs in my head and then I play some chess games online," she reported.
Miller stated that her favourite piece on the chess board is the knight, because of its power, even though it does not cover enough ground on the board. The knight moves in the shape of the letter 'L'.
Since Miller has been engaged in the sport, she has had numerous opportunities to travel abroad to represent Jamaica. Playing in other countries, she declared, has opened her eyes to the various playing styles of her opponents and to other cultures.
She acknowledged that the challenge she faces from her opponents allows her to become better.
"Playing other talented juniors of my own age lets me challenge my skills against equal or better opponents and lets me improve in the process. For instance, I remember coming from a tournament in Brazil and, two months later, I came third in the Harold Chang Open Tournament in Jamaica."
- Harold Chang Open - 3rd overall, Best Junior, Best Female.
- PanAmerican Youth Festival, Pocas de Caldas, Brazil, 2013 - Under-14 Female. Tied for 7th and best-placed English-speaking Caribbean person for that category, ever.
- Carifta Junior Chess Under-16 Female Champion 2013.
- Carifta Junior Chess Under-14 Female Champion 2013.
- Current top-ranked FIDE Under-14 player for Jamaica (Woman Candidate Master).