Tor Park loves to play chess. "I like chess because it uses my mind and it's so fun," he exclaims.
But more than that, the four-year-old from Lindale, Texas is good -- really good!
He has already swept three competitions, beating kids three times his age.
"I guess my skill level was just higher," he says.
It all began less than a year ago, when his grandfather sat him down and taught him the game.
"Then his Poppy gave him an old wooden set he's had since his college days, and that just got him started," says Tor's dad, Joel Park.
Tor started to play his father every day. When he started to beat him, they decided to join a chess club.
Coach Angelito Abella was skeptical at first.
"Angelito said, ‘Does he actually know how to play chess?' And I said, ‘Yeah.' And sure enough, he sat down and he beat the first kid he played that night," Joel recalls.
That's when they noticed Tor had more talent than other kids his age and Abella agreed to take the toddler under his wing.
"I kept looking at him when he was playing, and I just can't imagine that a four-year-old can really play that well," he says.
With Angelito's guidance, daily games with his father and a ton of natural talent, Tor started competing against kids much older than him in local, statewide and national competitions, always finishing in first or second place.
He says his strategy is simple.
"That's how you get good at things -- just practice, practice, practice," he explains.
And Dad couldn't be more proud.
"It feels good to have a son that's good at something," Joel says. "And when he has a great attitude and he's a good opponent and he's kind to his opponents, whether he wins or loses, that makes me proud."
Tor may or may not be the next Bobby Fischer. But for now, he's on the right track with the right perspective.
"Well, it's fun," he says matter-of-factly. "That's the whole point of chess!"
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