Root, Chu Win South Central Regional All Women and Girls Champs

Photo Louis Reed, Jr.

The South Central Regional All Women and Girls Chess Championships was held October 20-21 at the Dallas Chess Club. Thanks to a donation from the U.S. Chess Trust, a generous prize fund was offered, with nine of the 16 participants winning prize money. Yue Chu and I tied for first with four points out of five possible, winning $150 each. Since I had better tie-breaks, organizer and tournament director Luis Salinas determined I am the champion and Chu is the co-champion.

WIM Dr. Alexey Root

Chu had to leave the Dallas Chess Club as soon as her last-round game ended, to drive back to The University of Texas at Austin where she is majoring in Chemical Engineering. One of the last games to finish was Cheng-Nguyen, which ended in a draw. Had either player won that game, she would have tied for first too.

Organizer Luis Salinas with Chu

While hanging out in the skittles room, I spread the word on wanting a game from Chu for this article. You can always count on the chess network, especially among women and girls! Angela Cheng replied, “I am texting with Yue right now. She will email you her game.” Chu emailed me that her best game was her win over Rachael Li, who took the “A” prize as her rating recently dipped below her record-setting achievement of an expert rating at age eight.

[pgn] [Event "South Central Regional All Women"] [Site "?"] [Date "????.??.??"] [White "Li, Rachael"] [Black "Chu, Yue"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "B23"] [WhiteElo "1996"] [BlackElo "1854"] [PlyCount "126"] [SourceDate "2018.10.21"] [SourceVersionDate "2018.10.21"] 1. e4 c5 2. Nc3 Nc6 3. f4 g6 4. Nf3 Bg7 5. Bc4 e6 6. f5 Nge7 7. fxe6 dxe6 8. O-O O-O 9. d3 b6 10. Qe1 Nd4 11. Nxd4 cxd4 12. Ne2 Nc6 13. Nf4 Bb7 14. Bd2 Ne5 15. Bb3 a5 16. a4 Rc8 17. Qe2 Kh8 18. Rad1 Qe7 19. c3 Qc5 20. Kh1 Nc6 21. Rc1 Qd6 22. Qf2 Rfd8 23. Qh4 Qe7 24. Qh3 dxc3 25. bxc3 Ne5 26. Bc2 Bxe4 27. Qe3 Bf5 28. Qxb6 Nxd3 29. Nxd3 Bxd3 30. Bxd3 Rxd3 31. Bf4 Qc5 32. Qxc5 Rxc5 33. Rfd1 Rxd1+ 34. Rxd1 h5 35. Rd7 Rf5 36. g3 Bxc3 37. Kg2 Kg7 38. Rd3 Bb4 39. Be3 Rd5 40. Rb3 e5 41. Kf3 f5 42. Bg5 e4+ 43. Ke2 Kf7 44. Bf4 Ke6 45. Be3 Ke5 46. h3 h4 47. Bf4+ Kd4 48. gxh4 Kc4 49. Rb1 Rd3 50. Be3 Rc3 51. Rb2 Bc5 52. Bxc5 Kxc5 53. Rb5+ Kd4 54. Rxa5 Rxh3 55. Ra6 Rh2+ 56. Kf1 Ke3 57. Rxg6 f4 58. Rb6 f3 59. Rb3+ Kf4 60. Rb6 e3 61. Rf6+ Kg3 62. Rg6+ Kh3 63. Rg1 f2 0-1 [/pgn]
Chu added, “It's by no means a perfect game (especially that conversion in the end).” Chu certainly earned a share of first, defeating such an active and promising young star.

Rachael Li

For me, this year has brought three unexpected chess rewards. First, I won a $50 USCF Sales gift certificate by asking the “best question” for the “Cover Stories with Chess Life” podcast. To get a chance to win a gift certificate, mail your questions about either the “Cover Stories” podcast or about the newly-launched “One Move at a Time” podcast to I used my gift certificate to get a new chess clock. Second, I was featured as a “chess hero” in Chess Life Kids magazine.   The article is also posted at The University of Texas at Dallas Chess Program Web site; look for the “My First Move” PDF. And now I add to the year of success with a win at the South Central Regional All Women and Girls Chess Championships! I was surprised to win, as the other top-rated players in this tournament play in more chess tournaments than I do and are three or four decades younger than I am. My best game was this draw:

[pgn] [Event "South Central Regional All Women/Girls"] [Site "?"] [White "Root, Alexey"] [Black "Devagharan, Devina"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "E12"] [WhiteElo "2000"] [BlackElo "2056"] [PlyCount "43"] [EventDate "2018.??.??"] [SourceDate "2018.10.21"] [SourceVersionDate "2018.10.21"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 e6 3. c4 b6 4. Nc3 Bb7 5. a3 {I wanted to prevent ...Bb4 and, ideally, play e4 in one move, instead of playing e3, Bd3 (and other preparation moves) and then e4. However, my idea of forcing through e4 may not be sound.} d6 6. Qa4+ Nbd7 7. Bg5 Be7 8. Bxf6 Bxf6 9. e4 {I have achieved my goal of playing e4 all in one move. But I gave up the two bishops to do so, and the computer evaluates the position as more favorable to Black.} O-O 10. Be2 e5 11. Rd1 {I probably should have locked up the position with 11. d5.} exd4 12. Nxd4 Nc5 13. Qc2 Bxd4 14. Rxd4 {I was happy that Black no longer had the "two bishop" advantage, but I am worried she is going to win my e-pawn.} Qf6 15. Rd2 {I thought the R on the second file might come in handy for defending the b2-pawn or blocking an attack on my K with Re2.} Rae8 16. Bf3 Qf4 17. Re2 Ne6 (17... f5 {I was worried about this move but the computer thinks what Devina played is even stronger.}) 18. Qd2 Qxd2+ 19. Rxd2 Nc5 20. O-O { This move hangs my e-pawn but I thought in some lines I could play Nb5 and win the c- or a-pawn.} Ba6 21. b4 Ne6 22. Nb5 {Having finally worked my way back to equality, I offered a draw. Black accepted, as she had seven minutes on her clock and I had 49 minutes left. Time control was G/90 with a 30-second increment.} 1/2-1/2 [/pgn]
Melinda Shokler, a 2014 graduate of The University of Texas at Dallas, had a good tournament. When playing up, she drew me and drew Li but lost to Anh Nhu Nguyen. Here is her loss to Nguyen.
[pgn] [Event "South Central Regional"] [Site "?"] [Date "2018.10.21"] [Round "4"] [White "Nguyen, Anh Nhu"] [Black "Shokler, Melinda"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "C50"] [WhiteElo "2004"] [BlackElo "1755"] [PlyCount "77"] [EventDate "2018.??.??"] [SourceDate "2018.10.21"] [SourceVersionDate "2018.10.21"] 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Bc5 4. O-O Nf6 5. Re1 O-O 6. d3 Ng4 7. Rf1 Qf6 8. h3 Nxf2 {Melinda considered 8...h5 for 35 minutes but decided it did not work. Unfortunately, this does not work well either.} 9. Rxf2 Bxf2+ 10. Kxf2 d6 11. c3 Be6 12. Bb3 Na5 13. Bc2 c5 14. Bg5 Qg6 15. Be7 Rfe8 16. Bxd6 {The computer recommends Bh4 instead of taking the d-pawn.} Bxh3 {Great move! Black gets back to equality with this move.} 17. gxh3 Qxd6 18. Nbd2 Qb6 19. Rb1 Rad8 20. Qe1 Qe6 21. Qf1 b5 (21... Qxa2 {Melinda was worried about Ra1, which skewers her Q and N but she has Qxb2 if that happens.} 22. c4 {This is what Anh had planned.}) 22. b3 Nc6 23. Qg2 Ne7 {Better was either ...b4 or ...Qf6} 24. Rg1 Ng6 25. Nf1 Qf6 26. Ne3 c4 {Better was ...Nf4 with equality. Anh planned Qf1 if that happened.} 27. bxc4 bxc4 28. Nxc4 Nf4 29. Qf1 Rc8 30. Kg3 Nh5+ 31. Kg2 Nf4+ 32. Kh2 h5 33. Bb3 Rf8 34. Nfxe5 Rcd8 35. d4 g5 36. Nd3 Kh8 37. Nxf4 gxf4 38. Qf3 Qh6 39. Ne5 1-0[/pgn]

In round 2, the tournament had an odd number causing Barb Swafford to be assigned a bye. However, I recruited Danielle Little’s mother, Lorraine Lewis, to play. Subsequently, Lewis won rounds 3 and 4 before losing to Shokler in round 5. (Her daughter Little also scored two points in the tournament.) A retired veteran, Lewis served as a nurse in the Army and Navy and as a radar technician for the Air Force. She is currently employed as a clinical social worker at the VA hospital and plays the drums as a hobby.

Lorraine Lewis with organizer Luis Salinas

When I realized that Lewis has spent a lifetime helping others, I appealed to her helping nature by telling her that if she did not join the tournament someone would be without an opponent in each of the remaining rounds. Lewis immediately joined, leaving the skittles room for the tournament room!

  The skittles room also hosted a 14th birthday celebration for Sarah Basepogu. Her mother and three sisters were playing in the tournament with Sarah. The cake’s candles were lit as I played Sarah’s older sister Sharon in round 5. Sharon and I abandoned our game, temporarily, so we could sing “Happy Birthday” to Sarah. When we finished our game, we each got a piece of the chocolate cake. Sarah had lost her last round to Suchitra Naidu, whose other hobby is playing on a team made up of 10 boys and two girls, in the Dallas Stars Metro Hockey League. Both Sarah and Suchitra won rating points during the five-round South Central Regional All Women and Girls Chess Championships. Prize Winners: 1st-2nd overall WIM Alexey Root and Yue Chu ($150 each) First Expert WCM Anh Nhu Nguyen ($36) First “A” Rachael Li ($36) First rated 1507-1756 Angela Cheng ($36) First rated 1241-1456 Suchitra Naidu ($36) Top 800s Rachel Basepogu ($36) Top 500s Ruth Basepogu ($36) Top Unrated/Under 330 Lorraine Lewis ($36) Dr. Alexey Root, WIM, also wrote an instructional article, about her last round game in the South Central Regional All Women and Girls Chess Championships, at SparkChess.

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