Nemo Qiyu Zhou, also known by her alias akaNemsko, is a Chinese-born Canadian chess player who possesses the renowned titles of Woman Grandmaster and FIDE Master (FM).
She was born in Jingzhou, China, to Jiehan Zhou and Changrong Yu on the 6th of January, 2000. Her parents both have doctorates, her mother having one in English linguistics while her father in computer engineering. She started playing chess as early as three years old while in Finland and garnered national fame by being the youngest Finnish chess champion while she was just five years old.
Since then, Qiyu Zhou has achieved many feats and achievements. To list some, she has been coveted the title of World Youth Champion for girls under 14 years old, a Finnish women’s national champion, and a Canadian Women’s National Champion. She also currently has a 2367 peak FIDE rating and a career-high ranking of being the 100th among women chess players in the world. Besides this, Qiyu Zhou is also the first-ever Canadian woman to ever obtain the prestigious title of Woman Grandmaster, alongside the noteworthy FIDE Master titles. Since 2014, she has also been actively representing Canada at the Women’s Chess Olympiad, bringing honor to the country.
Apart from being a chess player, she is also a live streamer on Twitch. In 2020, Zhou started her own Twitch channel, where she goes by the username akaNemsko. She uses Twitch to stream chess games while collaborating with other streamers onChess.com. As a variety streamer, she also streams other games from time to time. Qiyu Zhou was the first chess player to ever sign under an e-sports organization, where she’s currently under the management of Counter Logic Gaming.
At three years old, Qiyu Zhou already began playing chess while she was residing in Antibes, France, where her father worked for the French Institute for Research in Computer Science and Automation. Her interest in the game started after seeing a chess set during a stroll. This interest was piqued when she finally joined a chess club, her ability being recognized as she defeated a couple of ten-year-old boys despite having a mere month of experience in playing chess.
At age four, she moved to Finland due to the demands of her father’s work, where he serviced the University of Oulu and the VTT Technical Research Center. While in Oulu, she became a member of the Shaki-77 chess club, where mentor Jouni Tolonen eventually coached her. This was when Qiyu Zhou achieved a momentous feat, having been dubbed the youngest Finnish national champion in under a year, at five years old. This win has given her tremendous media mileage from where she garnered well-deserved fame. Her story also started to be published in various textbooks for students in elementary school.
In addition, she also coveted the Finnish Women’s National Chess Championship at ten years old. Zhou has been participating in the under-ten open championship for four years since 2007 by then.
Qiyu Zhou’s momentum as a chess player only increased further as years passed by. Being the Finnish national champion for the under-10 category, she was eventually qualified to participate in the World Youth Chess Championship on certain occasions. She competed in various chess championships held in different places around the globe, earning titles and medals here and there. She also got the chance to meet her ultimate chess idol and role model, Hou Yifan, at her first World Youth Chess Championship.
Qiyu Zhou earned her first-ever chess title at five years old, having been the youngest national chess champion in Finland in the under-10 open division. Here is a list of her achievements in chess over the years.