At just 12 years of age, the sensational child prodigy Awonder Liang is entering the tournament as the highest rated Under-12 player in the US and the second highest rated Under-12 player in the world. He learned how to play chess from his father and two brothers while growing up in Madison, Wisconsin. He attributes much of his success to support he has received from his family.
Awonder is well-known in the chess community for the record-shattering pace at which he continues to improve. A week after his eighth birthday, Awonder became the youngest chess expert in U.S. history - breaking the record previously held by Sam Sevian. He also broke the record for youngest national master in U.S. history 17 days before his 10th birthday.
Awonder holds the distinction for the youngest-ever player to beat an international master and the youngest American to beat a grandmaster in a standard time control. At the age of 9 years and 111 days, Awonder defeated GM Larry Kaufman in the Washington International - breaking the record previously held by Fabiano Caruana.
Awonder is entering the tournament a two-time world champion having earned gold medals in the Under-8 World Youth Chess Championship in Brazil (2011), and later the Under-10 World Youth Chess Championship in the United Arab Eremites (2013).
Known for his humble and kind demeanor, Awonder is not one to boast about his success; he sometimes wishes the fame would just go away. Despite being one the youngest and lowest-rated players in the tournament, Awonder is clearly one to watch in this year's U.S. Junior Closed Championship.