It is not every teenager's idea of a thrilling pursuit, but for Nicole Tsoi, 15, chess is sending her to the other side of the world.
Nicole, a member of the New Zealand Women's Chess Team, is practising for her attempt at the Chess Olympiad in Istanbul this year.
Yesterday she became the Auckland Girls Chess Champion for 2012 when she won the Auckland Girls Chess Championships.
Nicole, who attends Auckland International College, said her passion for chess stemmed from an advertisement for the tournament she saw seven years ago.
"I won it and that was cool, so I kept going with it."
She said the reason the game was "really fun" was because of the skill and speed needed to win.
"It's a really exciting battle between brains ... you gotta be quick."
More than 150 schoolgirls turned up to play chess at the Mt Albert War Memorial Hall yesterday, from more than 40 different schools - the biggest gathering since the championship started 12 years ago.
The annual event is open to all schools in Auckland and girls from ages 5 to 18 participate.
One of the youngest competitors, 5-year-old Chantelle Vossen-Chong, was having her first go at competing.
She said she decided to play because her sister did at school and when asked what her favourite part of chess was she said "winning".
Another player, Tycee Malyon, 7, from Hillsborough Primary, said the game was exciting because she kept "taking lots of people's pieces".
Trophies and medals for the winners of each age group will be sent out to the schools, where they will be presented, to the winners with vouchers for chess books.By Alexandra Ventura