PLYMOUTH, Minn. (KMSP) - While many kids her age are enjoying their summer vacation, a 12-year-old from Plymouth is taking the chess world by storm.
On the giant chessboard we call life, it pays to plan ahead.
But when it comes to that age old game of strategy, Nastassja Matus is already making her move.
"I like that it’s like a game of war. You attack another player and try to fight and win," Matus said.
"You have to see your weaknesses and try to solve them or see your opponent's weakness and try to attack their's."
Nastassja started playing chess against her dad when she was 6 years old.
She quickly showed a knack for tactics and was soon beating players several times her age.
"Somebody said chess is the great equalizer. I believe in those words because you come with your training and experience and preparation, and in this moment before the game starts, everyone is equal," Nastassja's father Aleh Matus said.
Nastassja eventually started playing in youth chess tournaments across the globe, traveling to places like South Africa, Greece, the United Arab Emirates and Costa Rica.
She recently became the youngest person to win one of the most prestigious all girl chess competitions in the world, the Susan Polgar Foundation Global Invitational, as well as $110,000 in scholarships and cash prizes.
But she still has time to be a typical tween.
"[For fun] I do math and play piano and flute," Matus said.
Nastassja isn't sure if her endgame is to play chess professionally when she grows up, but she's already proving - at least on the chessboard - that she is nobody's pawn.
"I know sometimes in life you get second chances. In chess you only get the next game," Matus said.
Nastassja leaves for Brazil next week for the World Cadets Chess Championship, all this before starting the 7th grade in the fall.