14-year-old Minnesota chess master wins national women’s title

a girl plays chess
Alice Lee plays a chess match during the 2024 American Cup Day on March 21.
Courtesy of St. Louis Chess Club

Updated: March 26, 1:35 p.m. | Posted: March 24, 4:59 p.m.

International chess master Alice Lee, 14, was nervous going into the Women’s American Cup in Missouri last Thursday.

She went up against 40-year-old grandmaster Irina Krush, who beat her in last year’s American Cup during a tight game. Krush is one of the top female chess players in the U.S. and is also someone Lee has looked up to in her chess career.

Lee played the grandmaster in a series of blitz games in St. Louis, which are quick matches that only allow each player three minutes during a game.

“I thought it would actually be like a repeat of the previous two years because I lost the first match,” she said.

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But Lee, who is from North Oaks, came back to beat Krush two games in a row. Lee’s winning move happened in the last 15 seconds of her second game against Krush, when she moved her only rook piece to put pressure on the grandmaster.

a woman and a girl play chess
Alice Lee (right) plays against Irina Krush during the 2024 American Cup Day on March 21.
Courtesy of St. Louis Chess Club

“It was really great always to play Irina because she’s a very strong opponent,” Lee said. “So it’s always a good learning experience.”

Defeating an adult grandmaster for a championship isn’t a moment Lee will soon forget.

For her victory, Lee was awarded $40,000 in prize money and takes another step closer to becoming a grandmaster. Her mother has tucked the money away for college and future travel to upcoming tournaments.

Outside of chess, Lee attends school online at Eden Prairie High School. Just like a lot of people her age, she loves Taylor Swift. One of her favorite songs is “Long Live.”

In her free time, she enjoys participating in math competitions. It’s something she picked up around the time she started chess, which was when she was 6.

Her advice for anyone just learning to play chess?

“Enjoy the game, then naturally you’ll want to play more,” Lee said. “And the more games that you play, the better you’ll get.”

Correction (March 26, 2024): A previous version of this story incorrectly stated a Taylor Swift song title. This has been updated.