12 Sep 2014

First steps in illustrious chess career

11:33 am on 12 September 2014

A 13-year-old Wellington girl hooked on chess has won an international title in the women's game

Layla Timergazi is New Zealand's youngest chess representative.

Layla Timergazi is New Zealand's youngest chess representative. Photo: RNZ / Michael Allan

Layla Timergazi  took out a World Chess Federation women's masters chess title at the World Chess Olympiad in Norway last month.

With that she's taken her first step on the international stage and the next is is becoming an international master.

It was her family who got her hooked on the game.

"My Mum started teaching me when I was seven. Then my Dad got me into it so from then on I started playing at clubs, school clubs and came to the Wellington Chess Club," she said.

During the tournament, known as the Olympics of Chess, she won six and drew two of her 10 matches.

"I was really nervous but after my games I felt really good - but after my loss I didn't feel very happy.

"I drew two but I was lucky. I was losing pretty badly and then she made a mistake."

Layla goes almost every week to the Wellington Chess Club to hone her skills and take on other New Zealand representatives who play there.

Club president Ross Jackson has had many matches with Layla. "I've lost to Layla I'm proud to say now. She gets disappointed when she loses but not nearly as disappointed as us old folks get when she beats us," he said.

Club captain Ian Sellen beams with pride when he talks about Layla.

"I remember her coming when she was aged ten for the first time, and thinking that she has a remarkable talent. We are very proud of her, we all are," he said.

Layla's next assignment will be the New Zealand Chess Championships and she's aiming to one day, become a Grand Master.