MADISON – Cece Syarif believes that learning chess is more than just a game – it’s also about learning life for children. Syarif is the Girls Chess Coordinator for the Madison City Chess League or MCCL.
“I want the love of chess in this area to continue for a long time. I’ve seen chess children grow up together, share interests, become good friends and become more confident, ”said Syarif.
Her best experience was watching several fifth graders at the National Chess Tournament at the Opryland Hotel in Nashville huddle together and give each other encouragement. “Those were very heartwarming moments for all the parents who were there. I would like to see more of those moments, ”said Syarif.
As Girls Chess Coordinator, Syarif will introduce chess to as many girls as possible. “Once girls learn chess and start having fun, they really start to excel at the game. Chess brings out the strengths of different personalities. For a shy girl, chess can be a channel to open up and make friends. For an extrovert, chess can teach them to be calm and patient and to take time to assess the situation, ”she said.
“Chess teaches children to plan their move, assess their risk and seize opportunities. We want to encourage growth mentalities among girls, ”said Syarif. “With hard work (based on practice) they can achieve anything.”
As a child, Syarif played chess in his spare time, but never played in competitions or learned strategy. Her nieces Constance and Caroline Wang introduced her and her children to competitive chess at Rainbow Elementary School.
“My son was the first kindergarten child to join the Beginner Chess Club at Rainbow. Years later, his sister joined the Beginner Chess Club in Rainbow’s pre-kindergarten, ”said Syarif. “I realized that children – boys and girls – from the age of four understand chess and can play well.”
“Practice makes perfect” is the Syarif philosophy. Children should strike a balance between strict rules, little pressure to win, and the ability to have fun. Without rules, chaos quickly arises.
“Our MCCL children played against the best players with much higher scores in a national chess tournament. We don’t expect them to win, we just do their best and don’t give up, ”said Syarif. “There is so much to learn when you lose to better players. It is important that children have fun playing chess; otherwise they won’t stick to it in the long run. “
Syarif holds a bachelor’s and master’s degree in chemical engineering from the University of Alabama at Huntsville. She works as a program manager for RUAG Space. Her hometown is Jakarta, Indonesia.
She and her husband David are parents of Noah and Annabelle Hsu, who visit Rainbow and play chess at competitions.
Cece shared a fun scenario from college, worked part-time at Shogun, and had to wear a kimono as a server. “The kimono is not very comfortable,” she said.
“I’m a foodie,” she said of special interests. “I love to try different and ‘special’ fruits. I love durian! “