Queen Power in Santa Clara – Bashkansky Wins North American All Girls

On November 3rd and 4th, 2018, over 100 excited and enthusiastic girls battled over the board at the Santa Clara Biltmore Hotel, where the 3rd Annual North American All Girls Championship was held. The event, including an all female tournament staff, brought girls together to have fun, build friendships, celebrate girl power, and, most importantly, to play chess! The North American All Girls tournament was created by GM Susan Polgar and Dr. Judit Sztaray three years ago. The Susan Polgar Foundation and Bay Area Chess, joined forces to make this event possible, settling on an annual autumn date, a perfect opening just a few months after the start of the school year. The hope remains to establish an all female chess tournament on the West coast that will eventually draw players from all over North America. The open event already attracts players from the Pacific Northwest and Mexico, as well as Northern and Southern California, ranging in experience from complete beginner to expert. All K-12 female players, from across North America, of all chess playing abilities, were encouraged to attend.

GM Susan Polgar has broken many barriers throughout her chess career. Two primary pieces of advice were offered: “After each move your opponent makes, ask yourself the question, why did your opponent make that move?” And, “Think before you move, don’t play quickly, don’t rush your move, double check your idea.” Chief organizer, Judit Sztaray, has been shaping the event to be appealing to girls, and made it a priority to have an all female staff, providing inspiration to all the young participants. US Chess Senior Tournament Director Dr. Martha Underwood, and her daughter, Aiya Cancio, both from Arizona, have directed this tournament for the past three years. This year, Judit’s daughter, Reka Sztaray, most likely the youngest Senior Tournament Director currently in the United States, joined the team and was the pairings chief for the tournament. Per Dr. Sztaray, “It is very important to serve as an example to the girls, and show them all the options with which they can be successful in chess. Hopefully they see that by either playing chess, tournament directing, or organizing, with hard work and strong ethics, you can be successful in any area you set your mind to. Both Martha and I shared this experience with our own daughters and so enjoyed having a mother-daughter team of four this year!”

The more experienced players competed in a five-round, two-day tournament in two sections: 1000-1399, and 1400+, with a G/75; d5 time control. Three games were played on the first day, and two games on the second day. This year, 26 players participated in the two-day event, with the majority of players coming from California, some from Washington, and one player from Mexico. Additionally, a five-round, one-day tournament, held on Sunday, included three sections: U 400, 400-699 and 700-999, with a G/30; d5 time control. The tournament has been steadily growing throughout the past three years, and for the first time the total number of players surpassed 100! A very popular and dedicated female chess coach in the San Francisco area, Lauren Goodkind, was at the venue offering free analysis and support for the girls. Lauren has also been holding free workshops for girls around the Bay Area. Coach Goodkind has graciously provided the following annotations of the game between Bashkansky vs. Vidyarthi in Round 3. To learn more about Coach Lauren, click on the link below this article. The top 10 players of each section received trophies. The champion of the 1400+ section was Expert Naomi Bashkansky, a high school player from Washington. Naomi was also the recipient of a $52,000 scholarship to Webster University, the home of the Susan Polgar Institute for Chess Excellence (SPICE).

[pgn] [Event "?"] [Site "?"] [Date "2018.11.03"] [Round "3"] [White "Bashkansky, Naomi (2025)"] [Black "Vidyarthi, Omya"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "D12"] [PlyCount "107"] [EventDate "2018.??.??"] 1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. e3 Nf6 4. Nf3 Bf5 5. Bd3 Bxd3 6. Qxd3 dxc4 {This opening is called the Slav Defense: Quiet Variation.} 7. Qxc4 e6 {This pawn opens up lines for the f8 bishop.} 8. O-O Bd6 9. Nc3 O-O 10. e4 {In chess, you want to control the center. Moving the pawn to e4 is powerful. Naomi now has two pawns on two central squares: d4 and e4. Naomi also is threatening to move her pawn to e5, which will fork Omya’s bishop on d6 and knight on f6. This wouldn’t be good for Omya.} Be7 {Now Naomi cannot execute the e5 pawn fork.} 11. Bf4 { Naomi finished developing her knights and bishops.} Nbd7 12. Rad1 {Moving the rook to support the central d pawn.} Rc8 13. Rfe1 Qb6 {Omya moves her queen to b6 to attack Naomi’s unprotected pawn on b2 and protected pawn on d4.} 14. Qe2 {Now Naomi’s queen protects the pawn on b2.} Rfe8 15. Bg5 h6 16. Bh4 Nh7 17. Bxe7 Rxe7 18. e5 {This is a strong move by Naomi. E5 gains more space and also the pawn is now controlling the d6 and f6 squares. If Naomi can get one of her knights to d6, then her knight would be powerful since the knight would be controlling many squares in Omya’s position. By moving the pawn to e6, Naomi isn’t controlling the d5 square any more. If Omya can get one of her knights to d5, then that would be an advantage for Omya.} Qa5 {Now the queen is attacking Naomi’s a2 pawn.} 19. Ne4 {If Omya decided to capture Naomi’s unprotected pawn on a2 with her queen on a5, then Naomi can move her rook to a2 to attack Omya’s queen. Once Omya’s queen moves to a safe square (that’s either b3 or d5), then Naomi’s rook can capture Omya’s unprotected pawn on a7.} c5 {Perhaps Omya should move her knight to b6 instead of c5.} 20. dxc5 Nxc5 21. Rc1 {Naomi’s rook on c1 is now pinning Omya’s knight on c5 to her unprotected rook on c8. In other words, If Omya’s knight on c5 moved, then Naomi’s rook on c1 can capture Omya’s unprotected rook on c8 with check! Omya would be in a horrible position.} Rec7 {This move unpins the knight on c5.} 22. Nd6 {Naomi’s knight finally landed on the d6 square. Her knight is powerful now.} Rd8 23. Qb5 {Naomi offers a queen trade.} Qb6 24. Rc4 Rxd6 {Omya decides to trade her d8 rook for Naomi’s d6 knight. Perhaps she thought that Naomi’s knight on d6 was too powerful. According to Stockfish 9+, the best move for Omya was 24…f6} 25. Qe8+ {This good move checks Omya’s king on g8.25. exd6 doesn’t work since Omya’s queen can capture Naomi’s unprotected queen!} Nf8 {This is Omya’s only move. Now Omya’s knight is pinned to her king.} 26. exd6 Qxd6 27. Rd4 Qc6 28. Qxc6 Rxc6 29. Rc1 Nb3 {This is an interesting move by Omya. Her knight is now attacking both of Naomi’s rooks. Naomi cannot safely capture Omya’s knight by her a2 pawn. If Naomi did capture Omya’s knight with her pawn on a2, then Omya can force checkmate in several moves, starting by capturing Naomi’s unprotected rook on c1 with check!} 30. Rxc6 Nxd4 31. Rc7 {Moving the rook to c7 activates the rook on the 7th rank. This rook is on a good square since the rook is now attacking Omya’s unprotected pawn on b7.31.Nxd4 would be a huge mistake since Omya can capture Naomi’s rook with her pawn on b7.} Nxf3+ 32. gxf3 { Naomi now has double isolated pawns on the f file, so that means her f2 and f3 pawns are weak, which is a weakness in her position. Since Omya’s knight and king are on the back rank, and Naomi’s rook is very active on the 7th rank, Naomi is in a winning position.} Ng6 33. Rxb7 Ne5 34. Kg2 {To protect the weak pawn on f3.} Nd3 35. b4 a6 36. Rb8+ Kh7 37. a4 Kg6 {Omya moves her king closer to the center.} 38. a5 Nf4+ 39. Kf1 Nd5 40. b5 axb5 41. a6 {Naomi’s pawn is moving closer to a queen promotion.} Nc7 42. a7 b4 43. Rc8 Na8 44. Rxa8 { Naomi is in a completely winning position since she is up a rook.} b3 {Omya moves her b pawn forward closer to a pawn promotion, but Naomi’s rook is able to capture the pawn before the pawn can promote.} 45. Rb8 b2 46. Rxb2 Kf5 47. a8=Q Kf4 48. Qe4+ Kg5 49. f4+ Kh5 50. Rb5+ g5 51. fxg5 hxg5 52. Qh7+ Kg4 53. Rb4+ Kf3 {Omya’s only move.} 54. Qh3# {White wins by checkmate.} 1-0[/pgn]

Winner of the Open section, Expert Naomi Bashkansky

Runners up were the very talented third-grader Omya Vidyarthi, a Class A player, and sixth-grader Yesun Lee, both from California. A notable performance was given by Wanda Arriaga, a rising star visiting from Mexico, with an early upset of a top seeded player in the first round. The winner of the 1000-1399 section was Sarah Ewig, also from Washington.

 Serious looking girls in the Open section: Omya, Yesun and Wanda all fighting hard! The one-day tournament winners were: Emily Hung in the 700-999 section, who happens to be the sister of the 2018 Junior Grand Prix winner Alan Hung; Brianna Zheng in the 400-699; and Marisa Esau in the U 400 section, who won clear first with 5-0 in her very first tournament. Additionally, the top five school teams and the top five club teams, across all sections, were awarded trophies. Weibel Elementary School finished on top by a full point, while in the Club competition, Coach Liu’s club team emerged victorious. Coach Liu was able to encourage all of his girl club players to compete in this event. Bay Area Chess and the Susan Polgar Foundation are grateful to all the parents, coaches, volunteers, and staff for their support of this very special tournament. We are looking forward to an even bigger event, next year, November 2-3, 2019, which once again will be held at the Hotel Biltmore in Santa Clara, CA! Hope to see many more girls there! Detailed results: https://bayareachess.com/events/18/1103sp/ MSA: http://www.uschess.org/msa/XtblMain.php?201811046742 More Photos from the tournament can be found: Coach Lauren Goodkind:  www.ChessByLauren.com

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