Junior chess champion Makayla Joseph credits her brother, Kevon, for her interest in the game and hopes to one day capture an international title and make her country proud.
Joseph, 11, a student of the Rousillac Presbyterian School recently won the First Citizens National Primary Schools Chess Under-18 Championship.
“I was curious about chess when I saw my brother spending so much time learning the game. When I learned the game, my brother and I would play against each other, and he would always win. I decided to invest time and effort into winning him, and I did,” she told Newsday Kids.
Her training over the last four years has paid off, as Joseph not only topped several other competitions in her hometown of Point Fortin and nationally, but she has surpassed 14-year-old Kevon in skill and tactics.
Avanelle and Lincoln Joseph were overjoyed when their daughter became interested in the game, and made it their duty to take their children to the National Library and Information System building in Port of Spain every Sunday so they can practise.
“Although it was a long journey from Point Fortin to Port of Spain I was never bored because I looked forward to learning the art of playing chess,” the chess champ said.
Most of her classmates gravitated towards basketball, football, and track and field, but Joseph found joy in the chessboard.
“I believe that chess is a game that takes a lot of time, and it requires deep thought. Many of the girls my age cannot wait to get out of the classroom and onto the playing field,” she said.
This year, Joseph will write the Secondary Entrance Examination and she hopes to attend Naparima Girls’ High School and said the game has helped her in academics.
“Just as understanding chess, I spend a lot of my time reading because this has allowed me to think more, and I realised I could solve math problems and do creative writing better.” She intends to continue playing and developing new techniques to conquer her opponents.
“I would like to continue winning until I can earn an international title in chess,” she said.
Joseph hopes to become a doctor one day, and is also on a musical path.
“I think I have a good voice. I sing just as a hobby. I don’t think I could go further as a singer at this point,” but she loves to play the steelpan and the piano.