I remember my dad playing chess with me when I was three years old. It was one of the things that we would do as a fun activity after dinner. What interested me the most was how the pieces could be positioned to attack opponent’s pieces whilst protecting against loss of my material.
I joined the chess club at Grahamwood Elementary, started playing in tournaments. I made it out to Nationals in Grade four which was a great experience. It was a mecca for chess players – hundreds of kids from different states. This is also where I got an opportunity to meet and play with WGM Katerina Nemcova and GM Irina Krush. They were nice enough to review my games also. I was super excited to meet two of the top female chess players!!
Pretty soon, I started to take private classes in addition to my regular chess club which helped me built on the fundamentals of different tactics and openings. In the past two years, I have been amongst the top three girls in Connecticut and am happy that my studies have started to pay off. I still have a long way to go though.
Below is one of my games from the CT Girls Championships. I started with the English opening, which can be very effective.
There was point in the game (move 20) where I was tempted to go defensive since I was down on material. However, after looking at all possibilities, I chose to be aggressive and sacrifice my rook to give me a chance for a checkmate with bishop and queen. When that plan didn’t pan out, “dxe6” gave me an opportunity to focus on the king and give a series of checks until I was able to capture lots of material and give checkmate.
I have had my share of losses as well, but one thing that chess has taught me is to never give up. Becoming more persistent has helped me with studies and getting better grades.
With an effort to give my learnings back to the community and with support from my homeroom teacher and the principal, I started a chess club in middle school. It currently has around 15 students with a varied level of knowledge in Chess. My goal is to form a school team, compete with other middle schools in at least two competitions, and double the number of club members by the time I finish middle school.
I would like to encourage all the girls reading this article to learn to play chess and stay active. It has made a big impact on my life and showed that regardless of age and gender, it all comes down to being interested, focused, and determined to win!