314 Girls Compete in NYS Girls Championship

The 4th Annual New York State Girls Championship was held November 23-24, hosted by Columbia Grammar and Preparatory School, located on NYC's Upper West Side. 314 girls chose to spend a part of their rainy weekend playing chess, marking a new record for attendance at a state girls' championship. The K-12, K-6, and K-3 Championships all ran as two-day events with 6 rounds; the K-1 Championship, K-12 U1200, K-6 U900 and K-3 U600 were all played solely on Sunday, November 24 as one-day, 5-round events.

Martha Samadashvili (photo Crystal Fuller)

Defending Haring National Girls Tournament of Champions winner WFM Martha Samadashvili tied for first with Evelyn Zhu, each with 5/6 in the K-12 Championship. They are both considered NYS Girls Co-Champions. However, due to better tiebreaks, Samadashvili, for the third consecutive year, qualifies into the Haring National Girls TOC. Tying for third were Ellen Wang, Jenny Zhu and Iris Mou. In round 3, Samadashvili overpressed in the endgame against Katrina Wong; then Katrina defeated Julia Miyasaka in round 4 to move into sole possession of first place with 4-0!

[pgn] [Event "NYS Girls Championship"] [Site "?"] [Date "2019.11.23"] [Round "4"] [White "Wong, Katrina"] [Black "Miyasaka, Julia"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "C25"] [Annotator "Rohde,Michael"] [PlyCount "103"] [SourceVersionDate "2019.11.26"] 1. e4 e5 2. Nc3 Nc6 (2... Nf6 {is the most theoretical response to the Vienna Game, planning the sharp lines} 3. Bc4 (3. f4 d5) 3... Nxe4) 3. Bc4 Bc5 (3... Nf6 4. d3 {is a way for White to avoid the fork trick, and safely transpose to a King's Gambit Declined with f2-f4 next.}) 4. Qg4 g6 (4... Nd4 {is a surprising gambit leading to reasonable play after} 5. Qxg7 Qf6 6. Qxf6 Nxf6 7. Bb3 Rg8 8. Kf1 c6) (4... Qf6 {is a mistake due to} 5. Nd5) 5. Qg3 {The queen has to step off the "hot potato" square g4.} Nf6 (5... d6 6. Nf3 Nd4 {is one way to clear the air and then get ... c7-c6 in early to stop the nuisance idea Nc3-d5.}) 6. Nf3 d6 7. d3 Nd4 (7... Nh5 8. Qg5 f6 9. Qh4 (9. Qh6 Bg4 {is good for Black}) 9... Bb4 {is a very difficult line to come to terms with; again the idea is to neutralize Nc3-d5.}) 8. Nxd4 Bxd4 9. Bg5 {now this pin creates serious problems as Qg3-h4 is threatened, and ... h7-h6 doesn't stop it.} Nh5 ( 9... Bxc3+ 10. bxc3 Nh5 11. Bxd8 Nxg3 12. hxg3 Kxd8 13. Bxf7 {is winning for White, so Black cannot exchange off the pesky c3 knight at this point.}) 10. Bxf7+ (10. Bxd8 Nxg3 {is not so clear here because of Black's pressure on f2:} 11. hxg3 Kxd8 12. Bxf7 Rf8 13. Rxh7 Bxf2+ 14. Kxf2 Be6) 10... Kxf7 11. Qf3+ Nf6 12. Nd5 Bg4 13. Qxf6+ Qxf6 14. Bxf6 (14. Nxf6 Be6 15. c3 h6 {is ok for Black.}) 14... Rhc8 (14... Bxb2 15. Rb1 Bc3+ 16. Nxc3 Kxf6 17. Rxb7 {is too strong for White}) (14... c6 {was the right way, looking to get 2 pieces for a rook. Then} 15. Bxh8 cxd5 16. c3 Bb6 17. Bxe5 dxe5 18. exd5 {is unclear.}) 15. c3 {Now White emerges at least a pawn ahead.} c6 16. cxd4 cxd5 17. dxe5 dxe4 18. dxe4 dxe5 19. Bxe5 Re8 20. f4 g5 21. O-O Kg6 22. h3 (22. Rae1 {was also possible here. Wong's choice has the advantage of eliminating the opposite-colored bishops.}) 22... Be2 23. Rfe1 gxf4 24. Rxe2 Rxe5 25. Kf2 Kg5 {It is very difficult here not to lose back the second pawn, while also stopping White from getting paralyzing control of the d-file.} 26. Kf3 Rd8 27. h4+ {a neat trick.} Kf6 (27... Kxh4 28. Kxf4 {wins on the spot.}) 28. Kxf4 Ke6 29. Rc1 Rf8+ 30. Kg3 Rf7 31. Rc3 Rg7+ 32. Kh3 h5 33. Rg3 Rf7 34. Rg6+ Ke7 35. g3 Kd7 36. Rg5 Rxg5 (36... Ke6 {provides more annoying resistance.}) 37. hxg5 Ke6 38. Kh4 Rh7 39. g6 Rc7 40. Kxh5 Rc5+ 41. e5 Rc8 42. Kh6 Rh8+ 43. Kg7 Rd8 44. Kh7 Rd1 45. g7 Rd8 46. g8=Q+ Rxg8 47. Kxg8 b6 48. g4 a5 49. g5 b5 50. g6 b4 51. g7 a4 52. Kf8 1-0 [/pgn]
In round 5, Iris Mou took over first place with a win over Katrina Wong. Meanwhile, Evelyn Zhu made steady progress when a surprise tactic appeared against Nura Baalla. And Martha Samadashvili continued her recovery by defeating Jenny Zhu.
[pgn] [Event "NYS Girls Championship"] [Site "?"] [Date "2019.11.24"] [Round "5"] [White "Zhu, Evelyn"] [Black "Baalla, Nura"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "D36"] [Annotator "Rohde,Michael"] [PlyCount "85"] [SourceVersionDate "2019.11.26"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 d5 4. cxd5 exd5 5. Bg5 Be7 6. e3 O-O 7. Bd3 Nbd7 8. Nge2 c6 9. O-O (9. Qc2 {is more typical here, as the development of the knight to e2 (and consequent ability to utilize the f-pawn) is often associated with queenside castling.}) 9... Re8 10. Qc2 Nf8 11. f3 Be6 12. Bh4 Rc8 13. Bf2 c5 { Well played and well timed to interfere with White's idea to play e3-e4.} 14. h3 a6 15. dxc5 Bxc5 16. Rad1 b5 17. Qd2 N8d7 18. f4 Nb6 19. b3 {The position is roughly equal. Black has more space, but White is playing for good square control.} Bb4 20. Qb2 Qe7 21. Kh1 Ba3 22. Qa1 b4 (22... Bd7 {is a patient alternative, and Black is fine.}) 23. Nb1 Ne4 24. Nxa3 bxa3 (24... Nxf2+ 25. Rxf2 bxa3 26. Qd4 {is suddenly good for White, as Black has problems both with the a-pawn and from a potential march of the White f-pawn.}) 25. Be1 Qc5 26. Nd4 a5 27. Rf3 Bd7 28. Nc2 Bb5 {falling into White's trap, although the resulting situation is far from clear.} (28... Ra8 29. b4 axb4 30. Bxb4 Qc7 { and Black's access to squares such as c4 and a4 provides some compensation for the pawn.}) 29. b4 {Now White wins the Exchange, as ... Qc5-c6 always fails to Nc2-d4.} axb4 30. Bxb4 Qc7 31. Bxb5 Qxc2 32. Bxe8 Rxe8 33. Kh2 Qb2 34. Be1 Nc4 35. Qc1 Qxc1 {A tension release which had to be avoided, even though Black has a plan to snag the a-pawn.} (35... h6 {makes luft, and prepares to follow up with ... Rb8, when Black looks to have engineered full compensation for the Exchange. Also the move controls some dark squares, in the sense that a later Be1-h4 to get off the first rank can run into the retort ... g7-g5.}) 36. Rxc1 Rb8 37. Bc3 Nxc3 {Black is better off not trading, but some damage has been done, now that the bishop will settle on d4.} 38. Rxc3 Rb2 39. e4 Rxa2 40. exd5 Nd6 41. Rc6 Ne8 42. Re3 Kf8 43. Rc8 1-0 [/pgn]
Then in round 6, with Mou at 4.5/5 and a number of players trailing by a half-point with 4, Samadashvili won against Mou after a very complicated opening, and Evelyn Zhu defeated Wong. Thus, Martha Samadashvili and Evelyn Zhu tied for first with 5 points.
[pgn] [Event "NYS Girls Championship"] [Site "?"] [Date "2019.11.24"] [Round "6"] [White "Samadashvili, Martha"] [Black "Mou, Iris"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "C11"] [Annotator "Rohde,Michael"] [PlyCount "107"] [SourceVersionDate "2019.11.26"] 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. e5 Nfd7 5. Nce2 (5. f4 {is the main move here, wherein the f4 pawn effectively becomes the base of White's chain, as the d4 pawn will admittedly be traded against Black's c-pawn.}) 5... c5 6. c3 Nc6 7. Nf3 {White is trying to replicate a line from the Tarrasch French where the knights are pleasantly situated on f3 and e2, but here the bishop is still on f1, so it is not clear how this will develop.} (7. f4 {is a transposition to an old line now out of fashion as White takes on too many commitments after, for example,} Qb6 8. Nf3 f6 9. g3 cxd4 10. cxd4 Bb4+) 7... Qb6 8. a3 {Forever stopping the potential check on b4, White looks forward to moving the e2 knight.} (8. g3 cxd4 9. cxd4 f6 10. exf6 Nxf6 11. Bg2 Bd6 {is ok for Black as the bishop on g2 is not that effective.}) 8... f6 (8... Be7 {would be an artful move planning} 9. Nf4 cxd4 10. cxd4 g5) 9. Nf4 fxe5 (9... cxd4 10. Nxe6 Ndxe5 11. Nfxd4 {is solid for White.}) 10. Nxe6 cxd4 11. cxd4 e4 12. Nfg5 Nf6 13. Be2 (13. Bf4 Bxe6 14. Nxe6 Rc8 {would work nicely for Black.}) 13... Bd7 ( 13... Bxe6 14. Nxe6 Kf7 15. Ng5+ Kg8 16. Bg4 Nd8 {seems reasonable for both sides.}) 14. O-O Ne7 {This passive move is a mistake as suddenly Black as no play against d4 or otherwise.} (14... h6 15. Bh5+ (15. Nxf8 Kxf8) 15... Ke7 16. Nxf8 Raxf8 {would be very messy.}) 15. Nc5 {Taking up a secure post and establishing an initiative on the light squares.} Nf5 16. Nxd7 Nxd7 17. Bg4 Qf6 18. Bxf5 (18. Qb3 {does a number on the light squares because 18 ... Nb6 fails to 19 Qb5+ followed by 20 Nxe4.}) 18... Qxf5 19. f3 {This is also quite strong. } Be7 (19... e3 20. Bxe3 Bd6 {may be Black's best defense, tossing a pawn to get a respite.}) 20. fxe4 Qg6 21. Nh3 dxe4 22. Be3 {Patiently building. Black's king cannot find shelter.} Rd8 23. Qb3 Nf6 24. Nf4 Qf7 25. Ne6 Bd6 26. Qb5+ Rd7 27. Rac1 {The attack is overwhelming.} Qxe6 28. Rc8+ Ke7 29. Rxh8 Bc7 30. Bg5 Qf7 31. Rxh7 Rd6 32. Qxb7 Kd7 33. Qb5+ Ke7 34. Qe5+ Kd7 35. Bxf6 Rd5 36. Rxg7 Bxe5 37. Rxf7+ Ke6 38. Bxe5 Rb5 39. b4 a5 40. h4 axb4 41. axb4 Rxb4 42. h5 e3 43. h6 e2 44. R7f6+ Kd5 45. Re1 Rb7 46. Rxe2 Rh7 47. Bf4 Kxd4 48. Rd6+ Kc5 49. Rc2+ Kb5 50. Rd8 Kb4 51. Rb8+ Ka3 52. Rc1 Ka2 53. Be5 Rxh6 54. Ra1# 1-0 [/pgn]
In the K-6, Championship, Rose Morden won with a perfect score of 6-0!, This is after placing 2nd last year, when her sister Simone had won! Rose defeated Aliana Fausto in round 4, but Aliana bounced back to take 2nd place in the event with 5/6. In round 5, Rose won against Chelsea Prep teammate Whitney Tse, who later finished 3rd with 4.5.
[pgn] [Event "NYS K-6 Championship"] [Site "?"] [Date "2019.11.24"] [Round "4"] [White "Morden, Rose"] [Black "Fausto, Aliana"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "D04"] [Annotator "Rohde,Michael"] [PlyCount "103"] [SourceVersionDate "2019.11.26"] 1. d4 d5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. e3 c5 4. b3 {Setting up for a Zukertort Colle - a Colle System but with the queen's bishop fianchettoed.} (4. Nbd2 {however, is a more flexible way of doing this, as on certain eventualities, White then would not be committed to the fianchetto.}) 4... cxd4 5. exd4 Bg4 {A very good reaction, getting the bishop out in front while White does not have the development to support playing h2-h3 and g2-g4.} 6. Nbd2 Nc6 7. Be2 e6 8. Bb2 Be7 9. O-O O-O 10. Ne5 Bxe2 11. Qxe2 Rc8 12. Rac1 Nb4 {A very imaginative knight sortie.} ( 12... Nxe5 13. dxe5 Nd7 {looks about equal.}) 13. Qb5 {A brilliant response.} ( 13. c3 {does not work -} Nxa2 14. Rc2 Nb4) 13... b6 (13... Qb6 14. Qxb6 axb6 15. c4 Nxa2 16. Ra1 Nb4 17. Ra7 {gives White enough compensation for the pawn.} ) 14. a3 a6 15. Qe2 Nxc2 16. Qxa6 Rc7 (16... Ra8 17. Qb7 (17. Qd3 Nxa3 { looks good for Black.}) 17... Rb8 18. Qa6 Ra8 {with a repetition seems very plausible.}) 17. Qxb6 {Now White is suddenly a pawn up, and she plays to keep it.} Qb8 18. Qxb8 Rxb8 19. b4 Ne8 20. Nb3 Ra8 21. Na5 Ra6 22. Nd3 Bf6 23. Nc5 { A very finely calculated liquidation.} Rxc5 24. dxc5 Bxb2 25. Rxc2 Bxa3 26. Rb1 {Accurate.} (26. c6 Bxb4 27. c7 Nxc7 28. Rxc7 Rxa5 {would not be what White is looking for.}) 26... Bxb4 27. Rxb4 Rxa5 28. h3 Kf8 (28... Ra7 {was another try, setting up with the rook on c7 and the king approaching the center. But then} 29. c6 Rc7 30. Ra2 Kf8 31. Ra8 Ke7 32. Rb7 {and White wins.}) 29. c6 Ra8 30. c7 Rc8 31. Rb8 Nd6 32. Rc6 Ke7 33. Rxd6 Kxd6 34. Rxc8 Kd7 35. Rf8 Kxc7 36. Rxf7+ Kd6 37. Rxg7 Ke5 38. Rxh7 d4 39. Kf1 Kf5 40. Ke2 e5 41. Kd3 Kf4 42. g3+ Kf3 43. Rf7+ Kg2 44. h4 Kh3 45. h5 Kg4 46. h6 Kg5 47. h7 Kg6 48. Rd7 Kf5 49. h8=Q e4+ 50. Kxd4 e3 51. Qh5+ Ke6 52. Qf7# 1-0 [/pgn]
In the K-3 Championship, Megan Paragua, niece of famous GM Mark Paragua, scored 5.5/6 to become champion. Summer Loh, who had drawn with Megan in round 5, finished with 5 points to earn second place. 7 players tied for third place with 4 points. In the K-1 Championship, Alice Chovanec scored a perfect 5-0 to win the championship (this was a one-day, 5-round event). Emma Phu finished with 4.5 to take clear second, and 7 players tied for 3rd with 4 points.

IM Rusa Goletian with her daugheter, Sophie Surugladze (photo Sophia Rohde)

In the K-12 U1200, on a day when IM Rusa Goletiani was on hand to analyze games, Rusa's daughter Sophie Surugladze won with a perfect 5/5. In the K-6 U900, both Naira Gonzales and Angelina Edwards scored 5/5; Naira took first by winning the playoff. In the K-3 U600, Rose Kagan scored 5/5 to win first place. Complete individual and  team prizes are listed on the tournament website at chessgirls.win. The site also links to broadcasted games from the 12 DGT boards used throughout the event.

The event was organized and directed by the Chess Center of New York, led by Steve Immitt, and Little House of Chess, led by Sophia Rohde. Thanks are due to Columbia Grammar and Preparatory School, which hosted the event, and  to the New York State Chess Association for its support. Additional thanks are due to schools and organizations which periodically hold girls chess events, including Chess-In-the-Schools, Spence School, Chapin School, and others. Thanks are also due to CGPS volunteers, to all the parents, and to the tournament staffs of Chess Center of New York and Little House of Chess: Danny Rohde, Hector Rodriguez III, Maya McGreen, Anatoly Ostrovskiy, Harry Heublum, Polly Wright, Harold Stenzel, Jaimie Melanson, Makiko Nozaki, Beena McGreen, Karl Heck, Helen Xue, Kofi McGreen, Mariah McGreen, Ebony Tyler, and Eugene Amankwah.