Friday, August 08, 2008

Tori Whatley Garners Respect For S.C. Girls Chess

Tori Whatley Garners Respect For S.C. Girls Chess

The South Carolina flag flew for the first time in the five-year history of the prestigious Susan Polgar National Invitational for Girls, which was held July 27th – August 1st at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas. Hannah “Tori” Whatley proudly represented the Palmetto State and when asked how it felt to sit in a room full of state champions, she replied, “I didn’t really see them as champions, I just saw them as new friends”. Indeed, before the closing ceremony, she would make many new friends.

The tournament featured only one round per day leaving the girls plenty of time to forge friendships as they enjoyed activities such as rock climbing, swimming, and water volleyball. The girls also played a basketball game at the University’s Recreation Center.

Sunday’s opening ceremony featured You Tube phenomenon, The Cactus Cuties performing the National Anthem. Tori, along with Arkansas’ Crystal Qian and Texas’ Rheanna English posed for a photograph with the musical group just prior to their performance. Shortly after four-time Women’s World Champion, Grandmaster Susan Polgar’s welcoming remarks, it was time for round one.

Tori’s first match against Oklahoma’s Michelle Farell, a player rated at over twice her strength, was a hard-fought game that left the Oklahoman exclaiming that Tori was a far better opponent than she had anticipated. Despite ultimately losing the game, Tori earned Michelle’s respect and later in the week, the two teamed up as partners in the extracurricular “bughouse” chess tournament.

Monday’s second round concluded with Tennessee’s Autumn Douthitt, asking for a draw. Tying this game with Autumn, who was rated 485 points higher than her, landed Tori on the “Sandbagger” report for cumulative upsets. Later that evening, Tori joined many others in the “Chess Puzzle Solving Championship”, and capped off the night with a lecture from GM Susan Polgar.

Here is the full story.
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