Scottish Daily Mail
Queen of the chess board... aged six!
LIKE many girls of her age, Carolina Espinosa Cancino’s hobbies include colouring in and singing along to the Disney Frozen soundtrack.
But when it comes to her love of chess, this child prodigy is far from your average six-year-old.
Carolina has caused a sensation in the usually staid world of Scottish chess by seeing off opponents three times her age to land two major titles in a month.
The pupil at Sacred Heart Primary School in Girvan, Ayrshire, last month won the 2016 Scottish Junior Chess Tournament, clinching the under-nine title after five gruelling hours.
A little more than a week later, she scooped another Scottish junior title at a championships held in Croy, Dunbartonshire.
At 3ft 5in, Carolina is towered over by many of her opponents – but it has not stopped her becoming the first-ranked girl in the Grade Rise category among all Scottish active chess players aged between five and 18.
Carolina comes from a long line of chess champions and was taught by her father, entrepreneur Jose Miguel Espinosa. She is following in the footsteps of her older siblings, Miguel, 20, Cristina, 19, and Monica, 15, who are all already international chess players.
The family moved to Scotland from Spain, where they ran a marketing business, in 2010.
They had owned a holiday home in Girvan for five years and decided to give up the Spanish sun to move closer to relatives in Glasgow.
Proud mother Cristina Espinosa, 49, said: ‘The practice of chess promotes values such as tolerance, critical thinking and self-esteem.
‘Carolina knows that chess is a game of strategy that requires concentration of attention, memory, creativity, imagination, responsibility and emotional control.
‘Carolina knows that talent is 10 per cent of the base and the remaining 90 per cent is work.
‘As well as her musicals, Carolina enjoys drawing and colouring in and is busy learning her times tables. But in between that she practises her chess for two hours every day during the week.’
Carolina, shy and modest despite her remarkable success, said: ‘I like chess because I can learn from my dad. When I’m playing I concen She
‘When I’m winning I get excited’
trate very hard and have to be serious – but when I’m winning I get really excited.
‘I don’t feel bad when I lose. I just tell myself I’ll try harder next time and beat the next person.
‘I play my brother and sisters all the time but they never let me win. We have to play properly or else it would be cheating.
‘I don’t talk to my friends much about chess but one of my friends said she saw my picture with my trophies so that was exciting.’
Mr Espinosa, 53, said: ‘Carolina is only six years old so she’s just at the beginning of her chess career. has the passion for chess, it’s just a matter of progressing little by little.
‘It will be a long, hard journey to become grand master but she is very talented.’
Next week Carolina will compete for the Scottish Girls Championship, open to players aged 18 and under. The competition is split into three categories, with Carolina expected to compete at the primary five to seven level.
Mr Espinosa added: ‘To me the trophies don’t matter. Carolina’s experience with tough opponents is the most important part as they will help her become stronger.’