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).

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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