Rachael Li and Alice Lee, Both 8, Reach Expert Rating

In an indication of the growing popularity and power of girls in chess, two eight-year-olds cracked the 2000 threshold in chess rating within one day of each other, reaching the “Expert” designation.

Rachael Li of Plano, Texas, and Alice Lee of North Oaks, Minnesota, are in rarified air as less than 2% of all chess players have reached the 2000 rating, and only .004% of players under the age of 19 carry the Expert’s rating. No other girl this young has achieved this distinction in the 79-year history of US Chess. Rachael is a few months younger than Alice, who turns nine in November.

The synchronicity may not be pure coincidence.

Rachael turns nine in January, which makes her eligible for the Under 8 Section at the upcoming World Cadet Championship in Spain (November 3-16). The U.S. team will be sponsored by Two Sigma. Rachael said she plans to warm up with the Dallas Open and a few other local tournaments in longer time controls.

Rachael sent US Chess the victory that tipped her over expert, as well as a couple of other games she was happy with.

GM Ruifeng Li accepting the 2016 National Open trophy, with Rachael and their father, Photo Tim Hanks

Rachael’s older brother Ruifeng Li, a 17-year-old Grandmaster, earned the Expert title at the age of 9.

Rachael Li ,here at age six, at the National Open in Las Vegas, Photo Tim Hanks

International Arbiter Franc Guadalupe, former US Chess Executive Director told CLO, “I have seen Rachael at tournaments I direct here in Texas since she was four as well as another local star, Emily Nguyen, and it is great to see them develop into great players.”

Rachael Li and Emily Nguyen, both of Texas, shake hands

Alice will also be playing in the World Cadets. Alice’s advice to other girls? “Study hard and be determined.” She obviously followed this advice herself as only a scant two years ago she carried a beginner’s rating of 423.

Here’s the game that put Alice over the 2000 mark.

For press inquiries, contact Director of Strategic Communications Dan Lucas ([email protected]).

Find out more about the US Chess Women’s Initiative here, and follow our US Chess Women feeds on twitter and instagram. 


  1. […] While hanging out in the skittles room, I spread the word on wanting a game from Chu for this article. You can always count on the chess network, especially among women and girls! Angela Cheng replied, “I am texting with Yue right now. She will email you her game.” Chu emailed me that her best game was her win over Rachael Li, who took the “A” prize as her rating recently dipped below her record-setting achievement of an expert rating at age eight. […]

  2. […] We have 11 players representing team USA in the Girls Under 12, 15 players in the Girls Under 10 and seven players in the Girls Under 8. Our team includes several trailblazers, including Rianne Ke in the Girls Under 12, the first ever female to win the K-6 Championship and Rachael Li in the Girls Under 8. Last month, Rachael Li, along with Alice Lee, broke the record for the youngest female US Chess Expert ever.  […]

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