Young chess champion WFM Ellen Wang gears up with her friends for the 2nd Unruly Queens chess tournament tomorrow at 3:00 PM EDT (find full details in the google form and gofundme page and watch on twitch.tv/ezchess10). In this article, she reflects on the first edition held a few weeks ago. WIM Rochelle Wu took it down, while over $3000 was raised for COVID-19 relief.
2:57, 2:58, 2:59… the clock ticked nerve-rackingly until the 3pm opening of the 1st Unruly Queens Online Chess Tournament. As 67 female players leveling from amateurs to titled players gathered for their chess duels, four organizers and three guest commentators calmly conducted their last-minute dry run and composed themselves for some intense analyses on the upcoming hard-fought battles on twitch.tv.
This was the debut event of my USATE 2nd-place winning team, Unruly Queens, on chess.com. By reconnecting the female members of the chess community during the unprecedented pandemic, Martha, Evelyn, Yassi and I wish to encourage female players around the world to continue improving and enjoying chess. Isolation would never be the reason to curb our passion for the game or sever our friendship built around the game.
Along with promoting chess, the tournament was also our first endeavor to raise funds for UNICEF’s Coronavirus Response Program, which engages global effort to serve the urgent needs of child victims. As our cover story on fundraiser page (https://charity.gofundme.com/unruly-queens1) says, our hearts go out to those kids who lost their beloved ones, their educational opportunities, or their accesses to food and basic health care. We are proud to be part of the action that protects the most vulnerable children from the impact of the virus and invited our friends within and beyond chess community to join us.
A great initiative and a good cause certainly fosters strong partnership, as 7-time US Women’s Champion, GM Irina Krush, the reigning US Women’s Champion, WGM Jennifer Yu and the reigning US Junior Girls Champion, IM Carissa Yip instantly accepted our invitation to commentate and offer a Q&A session post tournament. WGM Jennifer Shahade, 2-time US Women’s Champion and US Chess Women’s Director, also generously donated and kindly publicized our tournament on the US Chess website.
The tournament was divided into two sections, Open and u1500, based on players’ chess.com blitz ratings. With a format of G3+2, the recurring time scrambles challenged players’ quick wits to dissolve complexity and created lots of enrapturing and disheartening moments. Our commentators were constantly amazed by the dramatic change of the tide in a game in a split second, or by a brilliant tactical blow that seized the winning chance and eliminated any comeback.
In the Open section that featured five titled masters, tanki97 dominated the field with a dazzling full score of 9/9. I mentally clapped loud for tanki97, my long-time chess friend WIM Rochelle Wu since we first met on a flight to Georgia for 2016 World Cadet. My excitement reached the same climax as the time when I cheered for her G10 Championship in Georgia.
Here is Rochelle’s victory against the runner up Sasha Konovalenko. The opposite side castling battle eventually favored black:
Another thrilling game was the one between Sasha_Konovalenko and the third-place winner SABSMSJESSICA. Although white tried to attack early in the game, black was able to hold the inferior endgame later on:
In the meanwhile, u1500 section was no less impressive despite the ratings. Everyone displayed remarkable resilience and fighting spirits, and many games were ultimately suspense till the end. The podium finally sizzled out with madmadammin taking home the championship. Her game versing the 2nd-place winner, weizou, was brimming with tactics. As I watched with my partner streamers Irina and Evelyn, we all felt there was no room to breathe for either player:
The Q&A session concluded the tournament with intriguing questions and inspiring answers, when all the commentators coming together to greet fans and players. When asked how psychology is affected in chess, where players are predominantly males, Carissa Yip shared with everyone her feeling:
“I don’t think there’s any difference in terms of play style, but in terms of psychology, yeah. The fact that there are just so many more guys in chess compared to girls, it definitely does get intimidating. When I was younger, it was very intimidating not to see that many girls my age playing chess. All-female and all-girl tournaments, I am very much in support of those, because it just has a sense of community.”
Carissa’s words echoed the theme of the 1st Unruly Queens’ tournament, as well as that of many more in the future. Such sense of community is what we are aspiring to reinforce during the pandemic and in the longer horizon. Through actions, we want to convey a message to all female chess players that we all can be UNRULY QUEENS over the chess board and we all belong to a compassionate community.
And with the strong support from this community as well as from the broader chess world and beyond, the donations through our GoFundMe website continued even days after the tournament. 58 donors helped us raise over $3000 in a mere two weeks! We are grateful for the individuals, families and organizations who contributed to the success of this tournament by playing, streaming, donating, or promoting on social media. We are all part of a great initiative and a good cause!
Our next Unruly Queens Event will take place on Saturday, May 16 at 3 PM EDT. Find more details on gofundme, register on the google form and chess.com club. Watch on Evelyn Zhu’s twitch channel, featuring commentary by Grandmaster Irina Krush.
Ellen Wang was a recent guest at our weekly Girls Club seminars. Find her lesson here and look for a snippet from Carissa’s coming soon, as well as a podcast interview with Carissa on Ladies’ Knight.