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Chess mates: West Jordan prodigy finds support from family

Published: Sunday, July 8 2012 8:00 p.m. MDT

"My dream has always been to become the best I can," Troff said. "Kasparov told us in St. Louis, 'If you put in the work, we'll put in the work.' He said he planned to get us over 2,700, which is super-GM (grandmaster). He said I could get to GM by 16."

Troff's next steps will be to fill the qualifications for international master, one step above his current rank, before he moves on to grandmaster. While not officially recognized by the Federation Internationale des Echecs (World Chess Federation), "super-GM" is chess lingo for players who are rated above 2,700 points. Only 85 players in the world have ever broken 2,700. Kasparov is one of six who are ranked above 2,800.

But no matter how far Troff ascends in the chess world — and the spotlight — his family says he remains genuine. He tends to be quiet around people he doesn't know, but his friends and family see him as a tease who loves to joke around. He's curious, cares about others and doesn't hold grudges, Kim Troff said.

"Kayden doesn't really enjoy being in the spotlight. He's never been one of those kids who are like, 'Look at me, look what I can do,'" she said. "He understands he has a responsibility to let people know what he's doing because he's kind of an ambassador for chess, but he's not crazy about it. We're pretty protective of him. We try really hard to balance between helping him fulfill his dream, promoting chess and not giving him too much."

Managing the media is not the only thing the Troffs have to balance. Kayden Troff has to work to balance his hours spent practicing chess with activities and responsibilities at school, in the LDS Church and with his family. Until recently, Troff also had a number of personal students who he taught to help pay for his chess-related travel expenses. Although Troff loved teaching, Kasparov required him to stop as part of the Young Stars program so he could focus on his own chess development.

"It takes a lot of organizing," he said with a wry smile.

Zachary Troff said one thing he thought was great about his brother was "he doesn't think he's all that."

"He's my little bro. I love him."

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