Samadashvili Repeats as NY Girls Champ, Mordens Win K-6

The 3rd Annual New York State Girls Chess Championship was held on April 6-7, hosted by Columbia Grammar and Preparatory School in New York City. The event was elegantly timed one week before the All Girls National Championships, and indeed many of the participants in the NYS Championship headed a few days later to Chicago. 9th grader Martha Samadashvili impressively repeated as NYS Girls Champion, thus earning the right to represent New York State at the National Girls Tournament of Champions, this summer at the 2019 US Open in Orlando. As girls’ chess has continued to flourish across the USA, New York State has played an integral part. Last year, 240 players competed in the NYS Girls Championship; this year, that number increased to 295 players (making this event the largest girls event in the nation, except for the all-girls nationals). This year’s event utilized many of the common areas of CGPS, including its gyms, libraries, cafeterias and lobbies. Organizing and directing the event required the combined efforts of CGPS Chess Director IA Sophia Rohde, Chess Center of New York, Little House of Chess and the CGPS chess team. CGPS has been welcoming chess and chess players for decades with its multiple class offerings, dedicated chess lab, monthly tournaments, and special events.

After 5 rounds in the Championship, WFM Samadashvili had a perfect 5-0 score, and an insurmountable lead of 1.5 points with one round left to play. However, kudos to Evelyn Zhu, who defeated Martha in round 6. Zhu finished with 4.5, in a tie for second with Sophie Morris-Suzuki and Ellen Wang. Round 1 of the Championship was an indication of how fierce the competition was, as Sakura Laporte was able to obtain enough counterplay against Evelyn Zhu in an Albin Counter Gambit

[pgn] [Event "NYS Girls Championship"] [Site "?"] [Date "2019.04.06"] [White "Zhu, Evelyn"] [Black "Laporte, Sakura"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "D08"] [Annotator "Rohde,Michael"] [PlyCount "78"] 1. d4 d5 2. c4 e5 {The Albin Counter Gambit.} 3. dxe5 d4 4. Nf3 Nc6 5. a3 { This and 5 g3 are the most popular here. They both plan to take aim against Black's queenside should she castle there.} Bg4 6. Nbd2 Nge7 7. h3 Bf5 (7... Bxf3 8. Nxf3 Ng6 9. e6 fxe6 10. e3 {seems good for White.}) 8. Nb3 Qd7 9. Nc5 Qc8 10. b4 (10. g4 {with Bf1-g2 to follow also looks good for White.}) 10... Ng6 11. Nb3 Ngxe5 12. Nxe5 Nxe5 13. Qxd4 {White appears to be just a pawn up, but Laporte organizes counterplay on the d-file.} Qe6 14. e4 Rd8 15. Qe3 Bg6 16. Nd2 Qd7 17. Bb2 Nd3+ {Now Black's two bishops will create something of a headache for White.} 18. Bxd3 Qxd3 19. Qxd3 Rxd3 20. Ke2 Rd7 21. Rhd1 f6 22. Ke3 (22. c5 {should be considered, to get out of the glare which will be coming from Black's light-squared bishop.}) 22... c5 23. Bc3 Bf7 24. Rac1 Be7 25. Re1 {Zhu is having trouble with the knight being stuck on d2. Therefore, she is willing to give back the pawn to effectuate some trades.} O-O 26. Nf3 Bxc4 27. Red1 Rxd1 28. Rxd1 Bb5 {Now, Black's two bishops confer the advantage. } 29. Nh4 cxb4 30. axb4 Rc8 31. Be1 Rd8 32. Rxd8+ Bxd8 33. Nf5 (33. Bc3 { was better, preparing} Bb6+ 34. Bd4) 33... Bb6+ 34. Kd2 Kf8 35. Kc3 {worried about ... a7-a5, but White's kingside is in trouble.} Bf1 {A sudden crisis emerges.} 36. Nd6 Bxg2 37. h4 g5 38. hxg5 fxg5 39. Bd2 h6 {Suddenly with an edge, Black settled for a draw here. Perhaps 40 Nf5 would be White's best chance to hold.} 1/2-1/2[/pgn]
By Round 3 of the championship, defending champion Samadashvili had settled into a groove of steadily winning in the endgame. A case in point was her effort against Ellen Wang.
[pgn] [Event "NYS Girls Championship"] [Site "?"] [Date "2019.04.06"] [White "Samadashvili, Martha"] [Black "Wang, Ellen"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B51"] [Annotator "Rohde,Michael"] [PlyCount "77"] 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. Bb5+ Nd7 4. O-O a6 (4... Ngf6 5. e5 (5. Nc3 e5 {shuts down any central expansion by White.}) 5... a6 {is a crazy idea to consider.}) 5. Bxd7+ (5. Bd3 Ngf6 6. c3 {is an attempt to back into a kind of Ruy Lopez-like formation (although perhaps White should do this only if a2-a4 is already in);} b5 {intends to interrupt this by reaching c4 with a pawn.}) 5... Bxd7 6. d4 cxd4 7. Qxd4 e5 (7... Nf6 {is also playable but is less popular as it lacks the clarity of completely disallowing White to get in e4-e5; one result would be a transposition after 8 Bg5 e5, although Black may be better off with 8 ... e6 instead.} 8. Bg5) 8. Qd3 Nf6 (8... h6 {is best here so that the knight can function properly when it gets to f6. With the center somewhat locked, Black can afford the tempo.}) 9. Bg5 Bc6 10. Nc3 h6 (10... Be7 11. Rad1 {is just trouble for Black due to the weakness of the d-pawn.}) 11. Bxf6 Qxf6 12. Nd5 Bxd5 13. Qxd5 Qe7 {Now White's edge in development is a significant factor.} 14. Rfd1 Qc7 15. Rd3 Qc6 16. Rad1 Be7 17. Rc3 Qxd5 18. Rxd5 b5 19. Kf1 (19. Rc7 {does not have the intended effect.} Kd8 20. Rb7 {would then be a mistake} Re8 {and Black has the sudden threat of ... Kd8-c8.}) 19... O-O 20. Rc7 Rfe8 21. c3 Rac8 22. Rxc8 Rxc8 23. Ke2 Kf8 {With good defense, Ellen seems to have escaped the worst of it, but Martha shows that Black still has problems with her bad bishop against the knight.} 24. Ne1 Rc5 (24... Ke8 25. Nd3 {and White is working with ideas including Nd3-b4 and in some cases a2-a4.} ) 25. Nc2 Rxd5 26. exd5 Bd8 27. Nb4 {Black's pieces are just too far away from the queenside pawns.} a5 28. Nc2 Bb6 29. b4 {Decisively freezing the weakness on b5.} Ke7 30. Na3 f5 31. Nxb5 e4 32. a4 Kd7 33. Na3 axb4 34. cxb4 Bd8 35. Nc4 Kc7 36. a5 Be7 37. a6 g6 38. a7 Kb7 39. Nb6 1-0[/pgn]
Round 3 also featured a dramatic game between Samantha Dong and Aayushma Rai. Andre Harding, one of the TDs at the event, annotates it for us:
[pgn] [Event "3rd NYS Girls Championship"] [Site "?"] [Date "2019.04.06"] [White "Dong, Samantha"] [Black "Rai, Aayushma"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "B01"] [WhiteElo "1902"] [BlackElo "1705"] [Annotator "Harding,Andre"] [PlyCount "32"] {I watched this game live, standing close to the players as the TD for the section. Seeing a line that was all the rage for awhile in the 90s -- and that I myself used to play -- warmed my heart, this being the year 2019!} 1. e4 d5 2. exd5 Nf6 3. d4 Bg4 $5 {Diagram [#] The tricky Portuguese Variation, to which there are at least a few good responses if white is familiar with the line.} 4. f3 {Definitely playable if you know what to do...but if you don't...} (4. Nf3) (4. Be2) (4. Bb5+) 4... Bf5 5. c4 (5. Bb5+ Nbd7 6. c4 {is a big improvement for white: an extra piece is developed and black's potential activity is greatly reduced.}) 5... e6 {White took a lot of time here, which made me worried for her sake!} 6. dxe6 $2 {Opening the center even more, where her king resides.} ({White should prefer something like} 6. Nc3 {with development.}) 6... Nc6 $1 {Diagram [#] Now white probably realized that she was in too deep, all the more so because black was playing her moves instantly. } 7. exf7+ {It's too tempting to not make this move.} ({An opponent played} 7. d5 {against me at the old Manhattan Chess Club in 1997. The remaining moves were:} Nb4 8. Na3 Bc5 9. Bg5 O-O 10. Qd2 fxe6 11. O-O-O Nxa2# {The quickest victory of my tournament career.}) 7... Kxf7 {Diagram [#] Clearing the e-file with tempo. Black has an open e-file and three strong minor pieces out, plus a couple more coming with tempo. Just look at white's army!} 8. Be3 Bb4+ 9. Kf2 ( 9. Nc3 Re8 10. Qd2 Nxd4 $1 11. O-O-O c5 {and I would be amazed if white could survive after the coming 12...Qa5, which would threaten 13...Qxa2! 14.Nxa2 Nb3#.}) 9... Re8 {Diagram [#]} 10. Nc3 ({Perhaps the most inspirational game in this line, which I learned by heart long ago, continued:} 10. Ne2 Rxe3 $1 11. Kxe3 Qe7+ 12. Kf2 Re8 13. Qc1 Nxd4 $1 14. Nxd4 Be1+ 15. Kg1 Qc5 $1 16. Qd1 Bc2 $1 {Dimitrov,V (2460)-Rivera Kuzawka,D (2375) Lalin op 1994 (4) 0-1}) 10... Bc2 $2 {This showed me that Rai was probably familiar with the Dimitrov-Rivera game, but it misses the mark here!} ({I was expecting an immediate} 10... Rxe3 $1 {which does win:} 11. Kxe3 {and now the timing is right for} Bc2 $1 12. Qxc2 (12. Qd2 Ng4+ $3 {transposes to the game}) 12... Qxd4+ 13. Ke2 Re8+ 14. Ne4 Nxe4 15. fxe4 Rxe4+ 16. Qxe4 (16. Kf3 Qe3#) 16... Qxe4+ 17. Kf2 Bc5+ 18. Kg3 g5 $1 {and white will be mated soon.}) 11. Qd2 $2 {Missing her chance!} (11. Qxc2 Rxe3 12. Qd2 $1 {and the battle continues.}) 11... Rxe3 $1 12. Kxe3 {Diagram [#] I admit that I might have played this move as well, especially if you don't appreciate black's 12th.} (12. Qxe3 Nxd4 13. Bd3 {and the end is not so near.}) 12... Ng4+ $3 {Diagram [#] I didn't expect this, but Rai took her time and found the best moves to finish her brilliancy.} 13. Kf4 {This allows a spectacular finish, but everything else loses, too.} (13. fxg4 Qg5+ 14. Kf2 ( 14. Ke2 Re8+ $19) 14... Qxd2+ $19) (13. Ke2 Qe7+ 14. Ne4 Bxe4 $19) 13... Bd6+ 14. Kxg4 {Diagram [#]} Bf5+ $1 15. Kxf5 (15. Kh5 g6+ 16. Kh6 Qh4#) 15... Qh4 $1 {Diagram [#] Locking the king out! 16...g6# or 16...Ne7# is threatened.} 16. g4 {Trying to run away via e4, but after} Re8 $1 {Nothing can prevent 17...g6#.} 0-1[/pgn]
In round 5, Samadashvili clinched the title with this effort against Nancy Wang.
[pgn] [Event "NYS Girls Championship"] [Site "?"] [Date "2019.04.07"] [White "Samadashvili, Martha"] [Black "Wang, Nancy"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B13"] [Annotator "Rohde,Michael"] [PlyCount "131"] 1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. exd5 cxd5 4. Bd3 Nc6 5. c3 g6 (5... Qc7 {is a popular line here, envisioning} 6. Ne2 Bg4 7. f3 Bd7 8. Bf4 e5) 6. Bf4 Bg7 7. Nf3 Nf6 8. h3 O-O 9. Nbd2 {White's control of e5 in this type of position is quite strong.} Nh5 (9... b6 10. O-O Bb7 {with a later ... e7-e6, is the most conservative way to handle the defensive task.}) 10. Bh2 Bh6 {Committing to a risky course of action. ... b7-b6 was still fine.} 11. O-O Nf4 12. Bc2 f6 ( 12... Bf5 {was a thought here, though Black would have to consolidate with ... e7-e6 as soon as possible thereafter.}) 13. Re1 Re8 14. Nf1 Kg7 15. Ne3 { The knight is very effective here.} Be6 16. Nh4 {A very creative way to try to take advantage of Black's misplaced pieces.} Bg5 17. Qf3 Nxh3+ (17... Nh5 18. Nef5+ {would illustrate Black's positional difficulties.}) 18. gxh3 Bxh4 19. Ng2 {A nice sting. Black must give up a piece for insufficient compensation.} Bxf2+ 20. Kxf2 Bg8 21. Kg1 e5 22. dxe5 fxe5 23. Ba4 Qg5 24. h4 Qd8 25. Bxc6 e4 26. Qe3 bxc6 27. Qd4+ Qf6 28. Rf1 Qxd4+ 29. cxd4 {White's iron grip on the dark squares here guarantees that the position is winning.} Be6 30. Be5+ Kg8 31. Rac1 Rac8 32. Rf6 Bd7 33. Rd6 Re7 34. b4 a6 35. a4 Rf8 36. Rf1 (36. Ne3 Rf3 37. Re1 {with b4-b5 on the way to break down the defense of d5 was also very strong.}) 36... Rxf1+ 37. Kxf1 Be8 38. Nf4 Rb7 39. Rd8 Kf7 40. Bd6 Rd7 41. Rxd7+ Bxd7 42. Ke2 h6 43. Ke3 g5 44. hxg5 hxg5 45. Ne2 Ke6 46. Bc7 Be8 47. Bd8 Kf5 48. Nc3 Bf7 49. Nb1 Kg4 50. Nd2 Kf5 51. Nf1 Be6 52. Kf2 Bd7 53. Ne3+ Ke6 54. a5 Be8 55. Bxg5 Bh5 56. Kg3 Be2 57. Kf4 Bd3 58. Nf5 Bf1 59. Ne7 Kd6 60. Ng6 Be2 61. Kf5 Bd3 62. Kf6 Bc2 63. Bf4+ Kd7 64. Ne5+ Kc7 65. Ke7 Ba4 66. Nd7+ 1-0[/pgn]
Also in round 5, the tough battle for second place gave rise to this sustained tactical contest between Ellen Wang and Sophie Morris-Suzuki
[pgn] [Event "NYS Girls Championship"] [Site "?"] [Date "2019.04.07"] [White "Wang, Ellen"] [Black "Morris-Suzuki, Sophie"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "C17"] [Annotator "Rohde,Michael"] [PlyCount "117"] 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. e5 c5 5. Bd2 Ne7 6. Nb5 Bxd2+ 7. Qxd2 O-O 8. f4 a6 {The sharpest line, driving the knight away from influencing d4.} (8... Nbc6 9. dxc5 b6 {is an interesting gambit.}) (8... cxd4 {is also fine, simply accepting the presence of a White knight on d4.}) 9. Nd6 cxd4 10. Nf3 Nbc6 11. Bd3 f6 12. O-O fxe5 13. fxe5 Rxf3 14. Rxf3 Nxe5 15. Qf4 Nxf3+ (15... N7c6 16. Rh3 {is a scary-looking attack.}) 16. gxf3 Nf5 (16... Ng6 {seems dubious;} 17. Qf7+ Kh8 18. Ne8 (18. Qxg6 hxg6 19. Nf7+ Kg8 20. Nxd8) 18... Qg5+ (18... Qe7 19. Bxg6) 19. Kh1 Qh6 20. Nc7) 17. Bxf5 exf5 18. Re1 Bd7 19. Qe5 (19. Qxd4 Bc6 (19... h6) 20. Nxf5 Qg5+ 21. Qg4 {is another possibility, with an edge to work with for White.}) 19... h6 20. Qxd5+ Kh7 21. Nf7 Qh4 22. Re2 Re8 23. Rxe8 Bxe8 24. Qxf5+ Kg8 25. Ne5 Qf6 (25... Qe1+ 26. Kg2 Qe2+ 27. Kg3 Qe1+ {is good enough for a draw. Preferring to fight, Sophie takes it into an endgame.}) 26. Qxf6 gxf6 27. Nc4 Bc6 28. Kf2 Kf7 29. Na5 Ke6 30. Nb3 Kd5 31. Ke2 b6 32. Nc1 Bb5+ 33. Kd2 Ke5 34. Nd3+ Kf5 35. a3 Bc6 36. Ke2 Bb5 37. Kd2 Kg5 {Both players are exploring everything there is in the position to try to get the advantage.} 38. b3 Bc6 39. Ke2 Bb5 40. Kd2 Bxd3 {The big moment when the position liquidates into a pawn ending. Who has calculated further?} 41. Kxd3 Kf4 42. Kxd4 Kxf3 43. c4 f5 44. b4 f4 45. c5 bxc5+ 46. bxc5 Kg2 47. c6 f3 48. c7 f2 49. c8=Q f1=Q 50. Qg4+ Kxh2 51. Qh5+ Qh3 52. Qe2+ Kg1 53. Qd1+ Qf1 54. Qg4+ Qg2 55. Qd1+ Kf2 56. Qd2+ Kg3 57. Qxh6 Qb2+ 58. Ke4 Qxa3 59. Qe3+ {Reaching a drawn position. An incredibly hard-fought game!} 1/2-1/2 [/pgn]
In the K-6 Championship, Simone Morden won with 5/6, while her sister Rose Morden scored 4.5, tieing for second with Abigail Yang. The Morden sisters have played in all 3 NYS Girls Championship tournaments; last year, Simone had finished 2nd in the K-6 Championship as well.

Simone Morden detailed her experience at the NYS Girls Championship as follows: When I won first place in the K6 New York State Girls Championship 2019, I felt ecstatic. It also felt special as my younger sister, Rose, took the second place trophy besides me. I went into the tournament with the mindset that I am going to win. President Theodore Roosevelt said, "If you believe you can, you're halfway there." The other half comes from hard work and dedication. The trophy felt well-deserved. I think that girls chess tournaments are a great way of encouraging girls.  15% of all rated chess players are girls. Tournaments like the New York State Girls Championship 2019 at Columbia Grammar hope to change that. Simone Morden 5th Grade at PS 33 Rose Morden also shared her experience:

Winning second place in the New York State Girls Championship in 2019 was a thrill for me. It was exciting to compete with 300 girls from all around the state. What was even more special was that my older sister Simone received first place. Playing against really good girl chess players, made me feel happy to know chess wasn't a male dominant sport. Chess has changed my life in so many ways. Receiving second place was unbelievable! Girls’ chess tournaments promote girls to play chess. In chess you travel, compete, and have fun. Competing against other girls makes me feel that I'm not the only girl playing chess. If you're a girl, I strongly encourage you to play chess.

Rose Morden, Chelsea Prep PS 33 - 4th Grade

In the K-3 Championship, Nico Alvardo-Yoshida won with 5.5/6. Aliana Fausto was second with 5 points. Lyla Basavaiah finished in clear 3rd place with 4.5. In the K-1 Championship, Hannah Chan and Catherine Ouyang tied for first, each with a perfect score of 5 points (there were only 5 rounds in this section), and there was a six-way tie for 3rd place at 4 points out of 5. To determine the winner of free entries, a playoff was needed, and Hannah won the playoff. In the K-12 U1200 section, Lata Bhattarai scored a perfect 5-0 to win the section. In the K-6 U900 section, both Ariam Daniel and Sophie Schechter posted perfect 5-0 scores. Ariam won the playoff to win the section. In the K-3 U600 section, Amishna Gurung won all of her games to win the section with a 5-0 score. Zaynab Chasmawala to second place with 4.5. The list of free entry prize-winners is at The rating report is at The chief Tournament Director was Steve Immitt of the Chess Center of New York. Photos by Neot Doron-Repa