Fifty-nine girls came together to play chess at the Berkeley Chess School's semi-annual All Girls Chess Tournament on Saturday March 21st, 2009. This tournament has been held for more than a decade, and was started by Berkeley Chess School founder Elizabeth Shaughnessy (herself the former Irish Women's Chess Champion) to foster excellence in chess amongst girls. This past Saturday did just that; the girls played excellent chess, showed good sportsmanship, and had a great time overall.
Indicating the high quality of chess played, four girls - Diana Ren in the 4-8 section and Sydney Ann Lewis, Lindsay Kornguth, and Kayla Shen in the K-3 section - finished the 4-round tournament undefeated with 4 wins each! Diana Ren, who is the Girl’s K-6 State Champion, won first place in the 4-8 section. She is ranked 57th in the country for 8-year-olds (both boys and girls) and for girls 8 and under she is 9th in the country. Her brother James Ren is the 9th grade State Champion, so it is no surprise that Diana's stated goal is to "one day beat my brother!” Claire Wong, the current K-8 State Champion, was also playing on Saturday.
The tournament had a number of newcomers to tournament chess as well, such as Adedotun Ojo, a 4th grader who just started chess last fall. She and many other girls played in the tournament in order to experience tournament-style chess of several long, sustained games in a row over the course of the afternoon. Playing in tournaments can help a player move from a beginning or intermediate level of play to a level where the player has a really firm command of chess strategy and tactics, and the game’s intellectual and imaginative potential can begin to be fully realized. Whether you win or lose, tournament play improves your chess!
4-8 Section Results:
First Place Diana Ren (4 wins)
Second Place Ella Hoffman (3 wins & 1 draw)
Third Place Jennifer Li (3 wins & 1 draw)
Fourth Place Sophia Leswing (3 wins)
Fifth Place Sophia Li (3 wins)
Best in 7th Grade Selena Wong (2 wins & 1 draw)
Best in 6th Grade Julie Yu & Emily Bush (3 wins each)
Best in 5th Grade Georgia Scherer (2 wins & 1 draw)
Best in 4th Grade Victoria N. Parker (3 wins)
K-3 Section Results:
First Place Sydney Ann Lewis (4 wins)
Second Place Lindsay Kornguth (4 wins)
Third Place Kayla Shen (4 wins)
Fourth Place Ronna Min (3 wins)
Fifth Place Erika Shen (3 wins)
Best in 3rd Grade Amber Nathanson (3 wins)
Best in 2nd Grade Julia Moseyko (3 wins)
Best in 1st Grade Abigail Yu (2 wins)
Best in Kindergarten Cindy Gomboluudev (1 win &1 draw)
The tournament was divided into two sections, a kindergarten through 3rd grade section and a 4th through 8th grade section. In each section trophies were awarded for the top five, plus a trophy went to the best player in each grade who was not already in the top five for her section. Because each of the 59 girls who played in the tournament demonstrated an enthusiasm for and a commitment to good chess, everyone got a participation medal if they did not receive a trophy.
See all the photos in our gallery
This game exerpt is from the match between Georgia Scherer (White) and Sophia Leswig (Black) in round 3 of the tournament.
Starting from this position, White to move...
Each side must worry about her King's safety.
White’s King has a Black Rook breathing down the h-file, and her Knight is en prise, while Black’s King is on an open file.
What should White play?
29) Nf5+! This move saves the Knight and attacks Black’s King. Counter-attack is the best defense!
Black responds with 29)... Kd7. If the King retreats to the eighth rank, Black's Rook can't guard the Knight. If 29)... Kf6, 30) Ne3+ wins the Queen.
White moves 30) Qb5+! Keeping up the attack.
Black moves 30)... Kc8 to guard the Knight.
What should White play?
Black’s only move is 31)... Kd8.
Now White can insert a skewer: If 32)Qxb8+, 32)...Kxe7 leading to 33)Qxh8 which wins the Rook and even protects d4! Beautiful!