Anya Corke is only 13, but she has beaten some of Hong Kong's top chess players - adults included. The former West Island School student is one tough girl, often travelling long distances to do battle. She has taken one year off school to take part in competitions. Aiming for the Hong Kong National Championship 2004, Anya is playing in the preliminary rounds of the Hong Kong Chess Federation event. So far, she has won two matches out of seven in the adult category. She has been a serious chess player for four years and has taken part in numerous international competitions during school vacations. Last summer, she won the British Junior Championships in the under-12 category at the British Chess Federation's 90th Annual Championship. She was the first girl to win the title. The trophy sits on a shelf at her Western district home, while the GBP200 (HK$2,910) prize money rests safely in her bank account. Taught chess rules by her father Harold Corke, the America-born, Hong Kong-raised Anya initially honed her skills playing her mother, Mei-sun. Both her parents are associate professors of biology at the University of Hong Kong. 'My father was too strong for me, so I played my mother,' says Anya, who is an enthusiastic member of the school chess club. Her father bought chess books and helped her study the moves, little knowing he was sowing the seeds of his own defeat. 'Now I beat my father,' says Anya, laughing. Before chess, there was physical sport, such as judo. But there was no satisfaction. Anya describes her playing style as 'solid aggressive' which forces her opponents to make predictable moves. She says she is not satisfied with her past game-opening moves and has found one that better suits her style. 'I saw a chess master make an opening by moving the pawn and then the bishop. I was impressed and later used the moves myself. Because it was an unpopular opening, my rival thought for 20 minutes before responding.' Anya does not hesitate to sacrifice central pawns. Her strategy is to win control of the centre of the board, forcing her opponents to protect their central pawns, thus becoming passive. Now that she has mastered her father's game, Anya seeks professional training from chess coaches through the internet. She says that there are two types of chess players. 'The first are mathematicians and the second, linguists/writers. I belong to the latter.' She says calculation is only one of the components in chess. 'It also involves creativity and imagination.' Anya finished 8th out of 91 players in the under-14 girls' section of the World Youth Chess Championship in Greece last year. 'This year, I want to be in the top three,' she says. In pursuing her dream, she has competed in 16 countries, including France, Russia, Spain and the mainland. She likes Greece best for its culture, food and history. Last year she raised money for charity by playing 14 schoolmates simultaneously. 'I want to be a professional chess player. But first, I have to focus on coming competitions because they are like stepping stones for me,' she says.