San Francisco, CA

San Francisco teen becomes chess Grandmaster, proving disbelieving teacher wrong

Josue Torres
Niemann at one of his tournaments.Twitter/Hans Niemann

San Francisco-born Hans Niemann was eight years old when a teacher informed him he wasn’t talented enough for the school chess team — and he became determined to prove him wrong.

The now 18-year-old American chess Grandmaster has been likened to the main character in Netflix’s smash series The Queen’s Gambit.

He swiftly became a master of the game, and he is now one of only around 2,000 people in the world to hold the title of Grandmaster.

He said he’s a really competitive guy, so winning is absolutely the bottom line for him.

He’s been likened to the main character in Netflix’s smash show The Queen’s Gambit.

Niemann, who was born in San Francisco said he began playing chess when he was eight years old. He attended a school that had an after-school program.

He explains his teacher told him he wasn’t talented enough to play for the team, so he was really determined to prove him wrong, and his aim as an eight-year-old was essentially to be better than his teacher.

Like chess prodigy Beth Harmon in The Queen’s Gambit, Niemann started to devote the majority of his time to studying and playing the game.

Niemann says during school days, he concealed a chess book beneath his desk and read as much as he could. After school, he would always be playing chess on his computer.

Fortunately, Niemann continued to improve, competing in tournaments and rising through the rankings.

At the age of eleven, he became the youngest ever winner of the Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club Tuesday Night Marathon, the country’s oldest chess club.

He says he emphasized chess above his courses by the time he started high school at Columbia Grammar & Preparatory School in New York City.

All of his efforts paid off when he was named Grand Master by the end of 2020, being confirmed by the International Chess Federation later in January.

Niemann believes chess it’s the ultimate equalizer, anyone can play it, and according to him, any player, no matter where they come from or who they are, can become the greatest in the world.

The California native explains what he loves about chess is that it’s just something between him and his opponent, and there’s nothing outside that can really alter that.

He says he has also discovered that, regardless of language barriers, he can befriend anybody on the planet.

Niemann believes it is critical to show chess in a manner that may make it popular. He thinks chess can be utilized to educate people, particularly in the educational area, since it contains every kind of lesson.

According to him, chess has the potential to significantly impact people’s lives.

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