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 Under 1200
K-6 Under 900
K-3 Under 600
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.
Here is one of Sophie’s games from the event:
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.
A major highlight of the event was GM Irina Krush’s appearance and her game analysis.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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
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:
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.