By Dennis McCarthy
Updated: 09/02/2009 06:30:52 PM PDT
Don’t let her young age and friendly demeanor fool you, her coaches say. The kid has the heart of a champion and the brains to match.
She’ll steal your queen, knock over your king, and be relaxing on the couch watching cartoons on TV before your seat’s even warm.
Simone Laio is that good. At 10.
The Agoura Hills girl just returned from Argentina with a gold medal in her age bracket at the Pan-American Youth Chess Championships attended by players from 17 countries.
She had something to prove. Last year, she won the silver. Not this year.
“Going for the gold creates a lot of stress and requires extreme focus,” says Beatriz Marinello, U.S. Youth Team coach and former president of the U.S. Chess Federation.
“Simone demonstrated that excelling at competitive chess involves more than talent and hard work, but also a winning mentality, which she definitely possesses.”
She’s an out-and-out champion, says Aviv Friedman, head of the U.S. Chess Delegation and coach of the U.S. team.
“She has fantastic talent and work ethic, which propels her to one success after another,” he says. “What a bright future she has in chess.”