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9-year-old Nip is Youngest Master Ever Print E-mail
By Jennifer Shahade   
March 6, 2008
Niplead.jpgNicholas Nip from the Bay Area just broke the record for the youngest USCF Master ever. At nine years and 11 months, Nicholas earned 20 rating points in a Mechanics quad on March 4, Tuesday night, pushing him to 2207. Nicholas Nip can be very proud of whose record he shattered: GM Hikaru Nakamura became the record-holder for a decade in 1998, when he was 10 years old and 3 months. (Hikaru broke Vinay Bhat's record from 1995.)

Nip first learned to play chess in kindergarten at the Academic Chess Program. Since age six, he learned from the husband and wife team, Lina Vark and Eric Hicks. Nicholas won the first tournament he ever played in: the 1st grade championship in the Northern California Regional Champs. Nicholas recently participated in the fifth session of the U.S. Chess School , organized by Greg Shahade. This session was led by GM Yury Shulman and held at the Mechanics Institute in San Francisco. Yury, who said that Nicholas Nip reminded him of Nakamura, commented on his overall impression of Nip from the session:
 In the simul against me, Nicholas played well in the opening, converting to simply drawn endgame and was overplayed by GM boring play. By the end of our session he was able to improve his endgame technique by simply adding some knowledge to his play! He was unstoppable in blitz competition - unbelievably fast calculation and very good technique in conversion of advantage are his strongest points.  He needs to work on his endgame, of course, on his positional play; he has a very easy receipt to improve - accumulate the knowledge! Then use it :)

He is also a very friendly kid. He impressed me with a little thing - when everyone left for lunch, he set pieces on every single board for the next class.

Group shot at the January 08 session of the U.S. Chess School. Nip is far left, in front of GM Yury Shulman.

Nicholas has gained the 200 points to push him from expert to master in less than a year. You can see the details of his meteoric rise on MSA.

San Francisco blogger and Life Master Michael Aigner (fpawn) writes: "The fact that he has already defeated 9(!) different established masters, including this writer, at slow tournament time controls bodes very well..." Read more on Aigner's blog.

Here is a win from Nip against Eric Schiller, who contested Nicholas in match in the Fall of 2007. Nip plays the Black side of a Panov Sicilian, and demonstrates fine technique, not exactly the type of master scalp you'd expect from a nine-year-old!


Look for more details on Nicholas Nip's historic accomplishment in uschess.org and Chess Life Magazine.