Over 200 Girls Attend New York State Girls Championships

The First New York State Girls Team and Individual Championships was full of friendly faces. Girls said hello to each other, made jokes, and complimented each other. Camaraderie and sportsmanship reigned, even as the girls were about to face off in fierce battles over the board. Over 220 girls (226, to be exact) played at the tournament, dispersed into seven categories: K-12 Championship K-12 Under 1200 K-6 Championship K-6 Under 900 K-3 Championship K-3 Under 600 K-1 Championship This year, trophies and plaques were awarded to top players, but what stood out about the tournament prizes was that the winners of the championship sections also gained free entries to two Continental Chess tournaments from a select list, including the World Open! First introduced at the Greater New York Scholastic Chess Championships, these prizes are “meant to encourage, motivate, and promote girls playing in more serious and open tournaments,” according to Steve Immitt, the chief tournament director and co-organizer. Such prizes were the initial reasons K-12 champion Sophie Morris-Suzuki decided to play. She also had a lot of friends playing in the tournament, but pointed out the free entries provided an extra motivation beyond the plaques and trophies usually given out at Scholastics. Sophie, who is a US Chess Expert, also wanted to be a part of what she called a “historic event," and ended up taking down clear first.
Sophie Morris Suzuki, Photo Vanessa Sun
Here is one of Sophie’s games from the event:  

[Event "?"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "????.??.??"]
[Round "?"]
[White "Sophie Morris-Suzuki"]
[Black "Katrina Wang"]
[Result "1-0"]
[PlyCount "87"]

1. d4 e6 2. e4 b6 3. Bd3 Bb7 4. Nf3 f5 5. exf5 Nf6 6. fxe6 dxe6 7. O-O Bd6 8.
Qe2 Qe7 9. Re1 O-O 10. Bg5 Nbd7 11. Nbd2 h6 12. Bh4 g5 13. Bg3 Bxg3 14. hxg3
Ng4 15. Qxe6+ Qxe6 16. Rxe6 Rae8 17. Rae1 Rxe6 18. Rxe6 Ngf6 19. c4 Kf7 20. Re1
Re8 21. Rxe8 Kxe8 22. Kf1 Ke7 23. Ke2 Ke6 24. d5+ Kd6 25. Ne4+ Nxe4 26. Bxe4
Nc5 27. Bc2 Ba6 28. b3 b5 29. Bd3 Nxd3 30. Kxd3 bxc4+ 31. bxc4 Kc5 32. Ne5 h5
33. Kc3 g4 34. Nd3+ Kd6 35. Kd4 Bc8 36. c5+ Ke7 37. Nf4 Bf5 38. Nxh5 Bb1 39. a3
Bf5 40. Ke5 Bd3 41. Nf6 Bf1 42. Nxg4 Bxg2 43. f4 Bh3 44. Nf6 {White wins} 1-0[/pgn]
Some girls had other reasons play in the tournament. Amy Sun, the top seed but second place winner in the K-6 Championship section, wanted to play in the tournament as preparation for the All-Girls National Championship, held in April (http://rknights.org/tournaments/9661/). This event promoted the much bigger Chicago event by making several announcements about it and handing out flyers.
Amy Sun, Photo Vanessa Sun
A major highlight of the event was GM Irina Krush’s appearance and her game analysis.
GM Krush, Photo Vanessa Sun
Irina hoped to inspire and said, “all girls tournaments could be part of every girl’s journey into chess.” She was particularly adamant that there is a social aspect to chess and that all girls tournaments are a good way to get 200 girls together and make more friends. It could eventually be what makes chess more fun in the long run, and encourage more girls to compete beyond elementary or middle school. WIM Beatriz Marinello, a famous coach, former US Chess Federation president, and a current FIDE Vice president, also felt the effects of all girls tournaments can be extremely beneficial to some female chess players. For a long time, Beatriz considered that “having girls tournaments was giving girls a ceiling,” but she has slowly come to change her mind, thinking that all-girls tournaments such as these gives a lot of energy and prove to be a good experience to girls.
The Dalton team shows their excitement for their big K-6 Championship win-Julia Miyasaka, Veda Safranek, Langley Beaudoin and Lauren Nam (not pictured), Photo Vanessa Sun
Sophia Rohde, a well known international organizer and member of the USCF Women’s Committee came up with the idea for this tournament and organized it. Another member of the Women’s Committee, Kimberly Doo McVay, said of the organizing: “Sophia had dreamed about this tournament for a long time and made it happen through professionalism and contacts.”
Chloe Cohen, Photo Vanessa Sun
Noelle Kay, K-6 U900, Photo Vanessa Sun
The right venue it was! Held at The Hewitt School (https://www.hewittschool.org/page), the highest sections had the honor of playing in the school’s gorgeous library, while others played in the gymnasium, classroom, and performance center. Juliette Shang, who came in ninth place in the K-12 Championship, and Erica Li, who came in tenth place in the K-12 Championship, talked admirably about the venue and library as something that stood out to them about this event, while GM Irina Krush admired the spiral staircases and pictures against the wall of graduating classes.
Irina Krush, Photo Vanessa Sun
Sophie and Erica (pre rating: 1565, post rating: 1628)
A last huge highlight of the tournament also included a new function to that improved organization and efficiency: pairings and standings emailed or texted to players and their parents before each round. This made the flow of the tournament much easier and faster, and many coaches said it helped show how well organized a tournament could be with the help of technology. Of course, there are always new improvements to be made. Next year, the organizers hope that there will be more players, which may require a bigger venue. They would also like to be the qualifying event to determine the state representative for the National Girls Tournament of Champions instead of the New York State Scholastic Championship Tournament. With high hopes of expansion and progress, the First New York State All Girls Team and Individual Championships was a resounding success. Standings Individual: K-1 Championship                Stephanie Weinberg won Clear First K-3 Under 600                     Lia Skarabot and Chloe Stark each won all 5 games; Lia won the speed playoff for First over Chloe K-3 Championship               Lilian Wang won on (secondary)  tiebreaks over Maya Figelman K-6 Under 900                     Ella Mettke won Clear First K-6 Championship               Julia Miyasaka won Clear First (6-0) K-12 Under 1200                 Larisa Bresken Won Clear First K-12 Championship              Sophie Morris-Suzuki won Clear First
Chelsea Prep with GM Krush, Photo Angel Lopez
Teams: K-1 Championship: Lower Lab School PS 77 K-3 Under 600: Chelsea Prep PS 33 K-3 Championship: Chelsea Prep PS 33 K-6 Under 900: K-6 Championship: The Dalton School K-12 Under 1200: East Side Community High School K-12 Championship: IS 318 You can see the full results at: www.chessgirls.win
IS 318- left to right: Chhoten Sherpa, Sakura Laporte, Vicky Chen, Katrina Wong and IS 318 alumni Vicki Yang & Nancy Wang- Photo IM Alex Ostrovsky
This tournament was made possible because of contributors, The Hewitt School, the New York State Chess association,  Little House of Chess, and The Chess Center of New York. Find MSA crosstable for the event here.  Find out about the All-Girls Nationals here.