Sunday, March 15, 2009

Chess and Technology

Guest Column: Technology and Chess

This continues a new category of posts: Guest columns where friends and readers share how technology is reshaping their hobby – basket weaving, rugby – whatever.

This time it is my daughter, Rita Mirchandani on chess.

Daughter? But before you scream nepotism, let me tell you she was the top ranked girl in Florida the last couple of years. She could beat me within a few weeks after she started to play!

“Chess has been played for almost 1,500 years since its origins in India. From there it spread gradually around the world and can truly be called the world’s first global game. But while it has traveled far and wide, the game itself has remained largely unchanged - except in the technology available around it. In recent years, the technology has really exploded.


While technology has clearly helped, it is the community which makes chess so fulfilling. I am grateful to have learned from a wide range of generous folks. I had a coach from Cuba, an internet coach from California, and advice from countless players and tournament organizers who helped me analyze each game I played.

I have been inspired by Susan Polgar, winner of many Olympics gold medals and a prominent lady grandmaster, and have been privileged to be invited to tournaments she organizes for young girls. To do my part to give back to the community, I now help Coach Willard Taylor, who encouraged my early interest in chess and is excellent with young kids, teach chess to a group of 3rd grade students at Berkeley High.


Chess is a fantastic hobby. Very affordable if you stick to local chess clubs and internet play. Somewhat more expensive if you play in tournaments around the world. But I have ended up with very good friends in just about every US state as a result of the tournaments I played in different cities.

And we unabashedly give each other unsolicited advice – not just about chess. You could say chess world was an established social network way before MySpace or Facebook became popular.”

Here is the full article.
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Girls making history in Idaho!

I just received the following from Katie Abderhalden, a young female chess player from Idaho. I am very happy to see this kind of progress. Here is her letter:

Ms. Polgar,

I wanted to keep you informed about the situation in Idaho and I know that this would interest you.

Never before has a girl even placed at the Idaho Scholastic Championships. However, that changed yesterday. Not only did a girl ‘place’ in the top three Overall, but we swept the field by taking all three top spots. And two of us are still in middle school! The field consisted mostly of high school aged boys.

My best friend, Emily Patterson (age 14), and myself tied as Co-Champions with 41/2 points out of 5. (We drew in our game against each other.) So it came down to tie-breaks to determine trophy distribution. I received the first place trophy and Emily the second place trophy. Erica Barkell (age 17) came in third with 4 points.

And the three of us tied for the 2009 Idaho Girl’s State Championship two weeks ago!

The picture of us at the Scholastic Championships I sent, shows Emily in white, me in blue and Erica in black.

Girls Rock!
Katie Abderhalden

Way to go Katie, Emily and Erica! I am very proud of all of you!
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Monday, March 09, 2009

FIDE Women's Chess Committee

9 March 2009

GM Susan Polgar

Dear Susan,

I am glad to appoint you as Co-Chairperson of the Commission for Women’s Chess with immediate effect until the next FIDE Elections in 2010.

I am aware of your enormous contributions in the development and popularisation of chess and am confident that you and your members will further the good work.

Our General Secretary Mr Ignatius Leong will liaise with you and your Commission. Thank you.

Yours sincerely
Kirsan Ilyumzhinov
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Girls' success

Two Chess Girls in Washington State

At the Washington State Middle School and Junior High School Team Championship, held on March 7th at the Islander Middle School on Mercer Island, a team from Bellevue’s Odle Middle School captured first place for the fourth year in a row. For the first time, however, the championship team has two girls on its five-member roster.

Megan Lee in 7th grade playing Board 2 and Leanne Hwa in 6th grade playing Board 5, both scored perfect 5.0/5. These girls have had many accomplishments in their short chess-playing endeavors: they are both nationally ranked on the various USCF-maintained Top Player Lists and both played in the prestigious Susan Polgar Invitational for Girls national tournament in the past (Megan Lee in 2007 and Leanne Hwa in 2008).

It was refreshing to see girls from several schools participating in this tournament. As in typical chess contests, boys far outnumber girls, especially at middle and high school levels. For these motivated girls, chess must be a very “cool thing”!

Links: and

Special thanks to Howard Hwa for sending us the picture and article!
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Sunday, March 08, 2009

Over $150K in scholarships and chess prizes

June 4 to 7, 2009 South Point · Hotel · Casino · Spa
Susan Polgar World Open for Girls and Boys
Championship · June 6-7, 2009

Enter Now! Championship Side Events Chess Camp Breakfast with Susan

Over $150,000 in college scholarships and chess prizes!

The Polgar Committee will award automatic qualifying spots to the winners in each section of the 2009 annual Susan Polgar World Open Championship for Girls!

5 Round
USCF Rated Swiss System Tournament
Time Control
Game/45 minutes
8 Sections
Girls Under 19 · Boys Under 19 · Born after June 6th, 1990
Girls Under 14 · Boys Under 14 · Born after June 6th, 1995
Girls Under 11 · Boys Under 11 · Born after June 6th, 1998
Girls Under 8 · Boys Under 8 · Born after June 6th, 2001
Top 10 individuals in each section
Top 3 (3-player) school/club teams each section
Special Medals to 11th-20th Individuals and 4th-6th Teams
1st in each section MonRoi Personal Chess Manager
2nd - 5th $200-$150-$100-$50 in chess prizes
to Texas Tech will be awarded based in part on performance in this event.
Entry Fee
$45 by 1/29, $55 by 5/19, $65 by 6/3, $75 on site.
Friday 4-8 p.m. & Saturday 8:30-9:30 a.m.
Saturday 11 a.m, 1:30 p.m & 4 p.m. Sunday 10 a.m & 12:30 p.m.
Opening Ceremony Saturday 10 a.m.
Awards Ceremony Sunday 3:30 p.m.
in the U.S. Chess Federation is required of all players. You may join with your entry or on site. Players will not be allowed to complete the tournament without a valid membership.

In compliance with the Nevada Clean Indoor Air Act all non-gaming areas of the South Point Hotel, including the Convention Center and restaurants, are NON-SMOKING.

South Point Hotel and Spa:

- Some of our many amenities include a 16-screen Century Theatre movie complex, 64-lane bowling center and a handful of restaurants that cater to all appetites and tastes.
- Our distinctive hotel features spacious rooms and suites with 42-inch plasma televisions, Point Plush mattresses and Wireless Fidelity throughout.
- A unique feature to this property is its Equestrian Center, which is the finest horse facility in the country.
- Recently, we have added a fabulous 400-seat showroom that features headliner entertainment and Show alldancing to live bands on weekends.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Girls only event in SLC

No boys allowed in this chess tourney
In SLC » Girls' Chess Championship players were of all ages.

By Natalie Dicou
The Salt Lake Tribune
Updated: 03/04/2009 05:36:52 PM MST

About 60 girls from across the state faced off in Salt Lake City late last month at the Girls' Chess Championship, battling for the right to represent Utah at the Polgar Invitational for Girls in Texas this summer.

The tournament had a different look from typical male-dominated chess contests as Nibley Park Elementary School's gym filled with pony-tailed chess players who, at times, were as serious as a grandmaster, but, at other points, giggled with opponents.

Horizonte Instruction and Training Center student Jamie Olsen-Mills, a senior, took first place overall, winning a seat at the Polgar Invitational. The Salt Lake City teen acknowledged that few girls play chess compared with boys.

"I think girls can be easily discouraged from math, science, engineering -- that kind of thing. ... Chess is one of those things they'll shy away from," Olsen-Mills said.

Olsen-Mills, who attends Horizonte but plays with the West High chess team, has competed in tournaments since age 7.

"I love the psychology behind it," Olsen-Mills explained. "I'm a very psychological player. My style varies depending on who I'm playing."

Tournament director and competitive chess player Stephanie Pitcher -- who took a three-year hiatus from chess as a middle-schooler because she "didn't want to be seen as the nerd" -- acknowledges that the chess world is full of stereotypes, such as, "Chess is nerdy" and "Chess is a boys' game." Pitcher hopes girls won't buy into that thinking.

After taking her middle-school years off, Pitcher started playing chess again and rose up the ranks of the Utah chess world, winning the women's state championship five times.

She said that for every 10 boys who play chess, one girl plays.

Chess, however, might be gaining momentum among Utah girls. The number of Girls' Chess Championship participants jumped from about 40 to about 60 from 2008 to 2009. Pitcher attributes this to the growing number of in-school programs.

It's a trend Pitcher would like to see continue.

"I feel so strongly for chess," Pitcher said. "I've had so many benefits from chess, [including] receiving international recognition."

Here is the full story.
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Monday, March 02, 2009

Spreading Chess in South Carolina

Area chess player wants other students to learn love of game
Sunday, March 1, 2009 11:23 PM EST
EDGEFIELD -- Using money given to her by the South Carolina Chess Association for expenses incurred representing the state at the Susan Polgar National Invitational for Girls Chess tournament in Lubbock, Texas, Hannah “Tori” Whatley is helping local schools start chess programs.

The 13-year-old Merriwether Middle School student wants to donate three chess sets to schools that are within a 10-mile drive of her own school, in hopes of fostering chess competitions and new friendships.

The schools are Mossy Creek Elementary, Hammond Hills Elementary, North Augusta Elementary, Paul Knox Middle School and North Augusta Middle School.

The principals or assistant principals of the schools can send an e-mail to letting her know how to get in touch with whomever will be leading the school’s chess club.

Tori and her father, David Whatley, will deliver the sets and provide support on how to set up and run a chess club. David Whatley is the coach of the Merriwether Mavericks Scholastic Chess Team.

Whatley can be reached at (803) 442-9060.
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