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.

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 [email protected]. 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:

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.

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.


  1. What a wonderful article, and a wonderful event. Thank you to the US Chess Trust for supporting it, to the benefactor who donated to promote women’s chess events, to the Dallas Chess Club for hosting it, and to Alexey Root for chronicaling it with such eloquence.

  2. Congratulations to Dr. Root and Yue Chu, and Kudos to all the players, as well as Luis Salinas and the Dallas Chess Club!

    I’m wondering if the U.S. Chess Trust would consider applications for support from other organizers of Women’s and/or Girls’ Championships?

    Are there specific rules and criteria for awarding these donations? Is there ano application process for all this?

    This sounds like a great thing!

  3. I agree with you Steve! Good positive support for All Girls Events to build equity in chess. People are doing great things in chess in many places!

  4. Very nice work! Good positive support for All Girls Events to build equity in chess. People are doing great things in chess in many places! Thanks for all you do!

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