I never grew up in a formal chess club. My father taught me how to play when I was six years old in 1999. At the time, my father believed I would never be good at chess, but he was wrong. I began to improve as I joined my father at local meet-ups and started playing with other players. At first, I would only watch them play, but eventually, I started participating myself. Despite losing many times, I learned from my opponents and began using their strategies against them.
One of the players at the meet-ups, who had experience in tournaments, took notice of me and offered to train me. He found local tournaments for me to compete in. In 2009, at the age of 14, I competed in my first major tournament, the 14th Annual Pacific Coast Open, in the under 1300 category, and won first place. This solidified my love for the game.
Years passed, and I focused on school and work, so chess took a back seat for a while. But in the summer of 2017, when I was working as a Lyft driver, I had more free time and decided to return to the competitive scene. I reached out to a former coach and his chess organization, the California Youth Chess League (CYCL), was looking for coaches. That was the beginning of my chess career.
Since then, I have taught hundreds of students in over 20 schools, worked with two other award-winning chess organizations, and competed in seven major tournaments, winning first place in four of them.