Wednesday, March 4, 2009 | 2:37 p.m.
A few months ago, Tamuna Kobelashvili was the most casual of chess players, pulling out the board a few times a year for fun.
In September, the Boulder City High School senior dusted off her pawns, joined the school's chess team and shot to the top ranking of any high school girl in Clark County.
Kobelashvili, 17, a foreign exchange student from Georgia, the former Soviet republic, earned the most points of any female, and a trophy, after five games of chess Jan. 31 during the school district's Individual Chess Tournament at Palo Verde High School in Las Vegas.
She said she plans to compete in the state chess tournament in Las Vegas on Saturday.
Kobelashvili learned chess at age 10, and didn't invest much time in the game before coming to Boulder City last year in time to join the chess team for competitions from October to January.
She said her host parents, Steve and Debbie Montgomery, had a chess set lying around and urged her to join.
Michael Sayward, the high school's chess coach, said Kobelashvili was the team's number one player all season long despite playing infrequently before.
"It's kind of like riding a bike," he said.
Kobelashvili said she'll leave Boulder City for Georgia in July, and plans to attend college in Western Europe or perhaps Brigham Young University in Utah.
Cassie Tomlin can be reached at 948-2073 or firstname.lastname@example.org.