Sydney Kong Tops Tennessee All-Girls, Earning Over 4K

The 2019 Tennessee All-Girls Scholastic Championship was a combination of STEM and chess. The event kicked off with a Friday evening seminar featuring WIM Dr. Carolina Blanco on chess as an educational tool and its connection with emotional intelligence. Carolina was also on hand during the tournament analyzing players’ games. Saturday included visits from different student groups as well as a laboratory tour. Players were given a 3-D printed chess queen courtesy of the Undergraduate Laboratories in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering (in UT orange), and got to make chess necklaces and bracelets and friends between rounds, as well as being treated to free pizza.

None of that diverted the attention from the main purpose of dominating on the 64 squares and there was plenty of fighting chess with only four draws in 78 games. In the K-3 section, defending champion and top seed Selena Ma, a second grader from Rocky Hill Elementary in Knoxville, swept her section with a perfect 4-0 score, followed by third grader Abbie Liu of Farragut Intermediate School with 3 and second grader Olivia Law of Christian Academy of Knoxville, with 2.5, taking third on tiebreak ahead of third grader Hannah Harris and kindergartener Thea Pattison.

Sydney Kong, 2019 TN Girls State Champ

The K-6 section was won by fifth grader Maggie Zhong of A.L. Lotts Elementary of Knoxville, who earned a perfect 4-0 score despite being the only player in the tournament who had to face three opponents with three wins. Following with three wins in tiebreak order were fourth grader Elly Wu of Nolan Elementary in Signal Mountain; a third place tie between fifth grader Sylvia Lin of Farragut Intermediate School and sixth grader Nikita Yang (playing in her first rated tournament) of Hardin Valley Middle School in Knoxville; and sixth grader Shirley Kong of Houston Middle School in Germantown.

2017 Girls’ Champion and State Co-Champion Sydney Kong was the #1 seed and also won her section with a 4-0 score, earning a $4500 scholarship offer from the University of Tennessee Tickle College of Engineering. But the Houston Middle School eighth grader had to survive a powerful kingside attack in the third round from second place finisher Violet De Credico, an eighth-grade homeschooler from Chattanooga.

Following Violet on tiebreaks were homeschool senior Tera Vilaire from Friendsville and seventh grader Grace Feng of West Valley Middle School in Knoxville, all with three points. A blitz playoff was held to determine the other two scholarship offers, and Violet won the $3000 and Grace the $1500.

2019 All-Girls State Champion, Sydney will also be the Tennessee representative at the 2019 National Girls’ Tournament of Champions to be held in Orlando, FL from August 3-6. She joins Rachel Weishaar (2012, 2014) and Zsofia De Credico (2015, 2018) as two-time All-Girls champions and has four years to match or pass Graham Gibson (2008-2011) for most championships.

Special thanks to UTK professors PhD. Prof. Xiaopeng Zhao, and MD, PhD. Jiangang Chen, a top TN player NM Forest Chen, together with the Dean of the campus for making this event possible, which inspired more girls to choose STEM careers and keep practicing the game of chess. These people of the Engineering Campus made possible the idea of the scholarship offer and bringing the tournament to the campus together with the TN chess association.


Find full crosstables here, more photos in the report, as originally published on the TN website, and game analysis of a key victory by Champion Sydney Kong from NM Forest Chen on the TN Women’s State Championship here. Also find more info on local news. 

WIM Carolina Blanco will also be at the Elementary Chess Championship, where she’ll participate in activities at our Girls Club Room, including tandem simuls and a chess lesson in Spanish. 

WIM Carolina Blanco and Kimberly Doo McVay

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