Morris-Suzuki Triumphs in Chicago: "I Enjoyed the Friendly Environment"

2017 All Girls Nationals, Photo Betsy Dynako Zacate
Before the first pawn was pushed, the All Girls National Championship was electric, thanks to a lightning strike. The 14th year of the annual event had a record number of players registered, but when lightning struck a plane in New York, players from multiple states found themselves stuck in airports begging to be on the next flight to Chicago. 30 players had to return home and miss this year. In spite of that disappointment, other players who had their travel plans canceled managed to find their way to the tournament. David Heiser, of Renaissance Knights explained, “People got here any way they could, by planes, trains, and automobiles,” he paused, “and buses.” The drive to arrive was only a hint at the determination the young women showed off during their games. In the U8 section, Abbie Wu of Oregon, the top rated player in the section, had a bad start.  This left an opening for Alice Lee of Minnesota, to take first place with a perfect score.
Alice Lee, Photo Betsy Dynako-Zacate
The next perfect score was posted in the U10 section by Californian Rui Yang Yan. In the U12 section, Veronika Vancsa, KS was the only player who still had a shot at a sweep going into the last round. She was paired with Annapoo Meiyappan of California, rated 200 points higher. Vancsa manage a draw. This gave her first place with a half-point over the rest of the field.
Veronika Vancsa, Photo Betsy Dynako-Zacate
The U14 section saw Minda Chen, WA, and Shree Ayinala, TX, tied with 5.5 for first place with Minda first on tiebreak
Shree Ayinala, pre-game Photo Betsy Dynako-Zacate
After traveling from California, Juila Sevilla swept the U16 section with a full point lead over second place Marissa Li of Illinois.
Julia Sevilla with Michael Khodarkovsky of KCF. Photo Betsy Dynako-Zacate
The U18 Section hosted nine players rated over 2000. Thalia Cervantes of Missouri, last year’s U16 Champion was considered one to watch. Yet the crowd favorite was still Wisconsin native, Anupama Rajendra, a multiple U18 Championship title holder. She is the youngest to hold the title, winning at age 11 in 2013 and again just last year.
Anupama Rajendra, Photo Betsy Dynako Zacate
Another face known to the All Girls’ was regular Nastassja Matus of Minnesota. During the closing round on night two Matus was paired against Rajendra. Matus won the match pushing Rajendra out of title range. During the same round a newcomer to the tournament, Sophia Morris-Suzuki, a New Yorker who was able to make it to Chicago, beat another important contender:

[Event "?"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2017.04.9"]
[Round "?"]
[White "Morris-Suzuki, Sophie"]
[Black "Liu, Miranda"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "D64"]
[WhiteElo "2107"]
[BlackElo "2010"]
[PlyCount "71"]
[SourceDate "2017.04.12"]

1. d4 d5 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Be7 4. Nf3 Nf6 5. Bg5 O-O 6. e3 Nbd7 7. Rc1 c6 8. Qc2
Re8 9. a3 a6 10. Bd3 dxc4 11. Bxc4 b5 12. Ba2 Bb7 13. O-O Rc8 14. b4 a5 15. Qb1
Qb6 16. e4 h6 17. Bf4 Nf8 18. h3 Qa6 19. Ne5 axb4 20. axb4 Qa8 21. Nd3 Rcd8 22.
Be3 N6d7 23. f4 Nb8 24. f5 Bg5 25. Bxg5 hxg5 26. Ne5 f6 27. fxe6 Nxe6 28. Ng4
Kh8 29. e5 Qa7 30. exf6 Qxd4+ 31. Kh1 Nf4 32. Rfd1 Qb6 33. fxg7+ Kxg7 34. Na4
Qc7 35. Qb2+ Kh7 36. Bb1+ 1-0

The final round was a show down between Cervantes with 4.5 points and Miranda Liu of Illinois who now trailed by half a point on board one and Morris-Suzuki and Matus on board two both with 4 points.  Liu and Morris-Suzuki both won their games leaving them tied for first place. The tie breaks set Morris-Suzuki home with the first place trophy and her place in history. She told US Chess, "I really enjoyed the friendly environment -All-Girls Nationals is a really good place to meet other female chess players around the country - last year, I went to the All-Girls Nationals for the first time and I met so many new people."
Stuyvesant High School, led by Under 18 champ Sophie Morris-Suzuki, took down the Under 18 team competition
Sophie also sent two key victories from her tournament.

[Event "?"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2017.04.9"]
[Round "?"]
[White "Morris-Suzuki, Sophie"]
[Black "Konovalenko, Sasha"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "D24"]
[PlyCount "61"]

1. d4 d5 2. c4 dxc4 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. Nc3 a6 5. e4 e6 6. Bxc4 Bb4 7. Qe2 h6 8. O-O
O-O 9. e5 Nd5 10. Ne4 Nc6 11. Qd3 Be7 12. a3 Re8 13. Bb3 Bf8 14. Bxh6 gxh6 15.
Bxd5 Bg7 16. Bxc6 bxc6 17. Rac1 a5 18. Qe3 Ba6 19. Rfd1 Bb5 20. b3 a4 21. b4
Qe7 22. Rc5 Red8 23. h3 Rab8 24. Nh2 Rd5 25. Ng4 Rxc5 26. bxc5 Rd8 27. Nef6+
Bxf6 28. Nxf6+ Kg7 29. Nh5+ Kg6 30. Qe4+ f5 31. exf6+ 1-0[/pgn]
[pgn] [/pgn]

[Event "?"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2017.04.9"]
[Round "?"]
[White "Morris Suzuki, Sophie"]
[Black "Matus, Nastassja"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "C02"]
[WhiteElo "2107"]
[BlackElo "2105"]
[Annotator "jensh"]
[PlyCount "125"]

1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. e5 c5 4. c3 Qa5 5. dxc5 Qc7 6. Nf3 Bxc5 7. Bd3 Ne7 8. O-O
Ng6 9. Qe2 Nc6 10. Re1 O-O 11. b4 Be7 12. g3 Re8 13. h4 Bf8 14. h5 Nge7 15. Bf4
g6 16. Nbd2 b6 17. Nf1 Bg7 18. N1h2 Nb8 19. Qd2 gxh5 20. Bh6 Ng6 21. Rac1 Nd7
22. Qg5 Qd8 23. Qxh5 Qe7 24. Bxg7 Kxg7 25. Ng4 Rh8 26. Qh6+ Kg8 27. Bb5 f5 28.
exf6 Nxf6 29. Nxf6+ Qxf6 30. Bc6 Rb8 31. Ne5 Qg7 32. Qh5 a6 33. Bxd5 Qf6 34.
Ng4 Qe7 35. Nh6+ Kf8 36. Qf3+ Ke8 37. Bxe6 Bxe6 38. Nf5 Bxf5 39. Qxf5 Rf8 40.
Rxe7+ Nxe7 41. Qxh7 a5 42. Re1 Rb7 43. f4 Kd8 44. Rd1+ Kc8 45. Qh6 Rg8 46. Qe6+
Kb8 47. g4 Rc8 48. Qe5+ Ka8 49. g5 Nc6 50. Qe4 Kb8 51. f5 Rg8 52. Qxc6 Rxg5+
53. Kf2 Rxf5+ 54. Ke3 Rf8 55. Qd6+ Ka7 56. Qxf8 axb4 57. cxb4 b5 58. Rd8 Ka6
59. Ra8+ Ra7 60. Qc8+ Kb6 61. Qc5+ Kb7 62. Rxa7+ Kb8 63. Qc7# 1-0[/pgn]
In the team awards, New York had a great showing despite travel delays, winning the Under 8 (Chelsea Prep), Under 12 (Dalton), Under 14 (IS 318) and Under 18 (Stuyvesant) sections. As always, the team spirit and friendly faces made this a memorable event to photograph.
Weibel Chess of Fremont, CA, Under 10 Team Champs
Top Under 8 team, Chelsea Prep
Top Under 14 team, Dalton
With another in the books it is time to look ahead to 2018. It will be the 15th year of the annual event, a great milestone worth celebrating. Plans are already afoot to make it the most memorable year so far. Find full 2017 standings here.