Vail Valley chess champion on her love of the game | VailDaily.com

Vail Valley chess champion on her love of the game

Paloma Pad has won several national chess championships and has been playing the game since she was just 5.

It's not every day that you come across an international chess champion. The Vail Valley, however, has one living amongst us in Paloma Pad.

Pad, born in Mexico, began playing when she was around 5 years old after watching her father play.

"My dad was the one that taught me how to play chess," Pad said. "He was playing and I got really excited and was curious. Once we started playing, it was like an addiction."

Pad's father began to coach her, and around the time she was 11, Pad jump into the world of tournaments and never looked back.

"(Chess) changed my life completely," Pad said. "It made my a completely different person. It helped me in school and just in life in general. It's a beautiful sport."

Pad still competes in tournaments for national and international titles, but also works as an instructor to other players.

Chess is noted for engaging and developing several mental skills, aiding in decision making, thinking critically and planning. Pad, who is also an instructor now — even to students living in different parts of the world — noted that it's helpful to teens as they grow  —teaching discipline in addition to critical thinking — but it's also helpful to adults suffering from Alzheimer's and similar conditions, keeping their minds sharp and exercised.

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In her years of competing, Pad has traveled all over the country and has even made international appearances, racking up medals and trophies as she goes along. Pad has multiple national championships under her belt, and recently took home a trophy in a Pan-American competition. She's been invited to world championships and is currently preparing for a championship in Las Vegas that will take place in June.

Having competed in innumerable tournaments, Pad is well aware of the process. Each competition is divided up by skill level before the games begin. There's a lot of watching other people play too, most games take around three hours, according to Pad. Then, much like tournaments in other sports, when your turn finally comes, you play the game, moving on to the next round if you win.

While Pad does coach, she has a unique perspective of the game.

"I don't really see it as my job," Pad said. "It's just my passion. It's something that I like to do, something that I love."

Despite all of her worldliness, Pad is excited to begin to integrate chess into the community here, be by coaching or other means.

"I think it will be a good thing to bring chess to our community," Pad said. "It's a good opportunity for the community to come together and to spend time with the family."

Arts & Entertainment Editor Nate Day can be reached at nday@vaildaily.com or 970-748-2932.