Saturday, July 30, 2011

Savanna Naccarato places 9th out of 46 at the 2011 Susan Polgar Girls Invitational

Savanna Naccarato (center) with her mother, Rachelle (left), and GM Susan Polgar (right). Photo courtesy of the Susan Polgar Foundation.

by Jeff Roland

Reports started coming in a few days ago from Frank Niro (an Idaho resident), Tournament Director of the 8th Annual Susan Polgar Girls Invitational held this year at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas, July 24-29, 2011. Savanna Naccarato, an 8th grader from Sandpoint, Idaho was at one point, one of only four girls tied for first place after three rounds (with three rounds remaining) in this prestigious event. In round 4, and round 5, Savanna lost her games to higher ranked players, and won in the 6th round to end up with 4 points, and a 9th place (out of 46 players) finish. This is an outstanding result for an 8th grader in her first attempt.

Savanna qualified to play in this event by tying for first place in the 2011 Idaho Scholastic Girls Championship held in Boise, this past February.

Savanna and her family are very appreciative of all the support they have had for Savanna to represent Idaho at this event. The Bonner County Daily Bee helped promote a fundraiser yard sale, that actually brought in $800 toward expenses (some people dropped off money and didn't even buy anything at the yard sale -- they just wanted to support Savanna. And also community clubs and businesses and friends gave their support as well. The Spokane Chess Club also contributed as did the Idaho Chess Association.

Special thanks goes to Savanna's coach, National Master, John Graves, from Washington State, who has really worked hard and done a fabulous job preparing Savanna for this event. During the event he even called and texted between rounds.

Click here for May 11, 2011 article by Cameron Rasmusson, Staff for the Bonner County Daily Bee.

The event finished on July 29, 2011. Click Here for the crosstable.

SP Girls' Invitational Final Standings

Final standings

## Name ID Rtng Post -1- -2- -3- -4- -5- -6- Tot TB-M TB-S TB-O TB-C
1 Apurva Virkud 13464694 1967 1987 W21 W20 W7 W8 W2 W6 6 20 23 90 21
2 Mandy Lu 13907446 1761 1778 W34 W13 W3 W9 L1 W10 5 22 24 90½ 19
3 Kristen Sarna 13102097 1591 1620 W38 W23 L2 W18 W8 D4 19½ 21½ 76½ 16½
4 Maggie Feng 14105448 1728 1714 L23 W40 W29 W12 W9 D3 18 19½ 72 14½
5 Maraani Kamphorst 14521372 1815 1819 Z43 U--- W43 W15 W29 W13 10½ 10½ 41½ 12½
6 Claudia Munoz 13481236 1872 1856 W27 D19 W11 D10 W7 L1 4 21 24 86 16
7 Katherine Davis 14381402 1668 1667 W26 W30 L1 W11 L6 W18 4 20 22½ 83 15
8 Clarissa Abella 13528222 1692 1685 W25 W24 W18 L1 L3 W19 4 19½ 22½ 84 16
9 Savanna Naccarato 14207292 1600 1607 W40 W44 W14 L2 L4 W24 4 19 20½ 71 16
10 Evelyn Chen 13547567 1501 1552 D29 W17 W19 D6 W22 L2 4 18½ 21 81½ 15½
11 Diamond Shakoor 13972728 1293 1393 W36 W16 L6 L7 W28 W20 4 17½ 19½ 71 14
12 Vanita Young 13835092 1461 1478 W41 L14 W25 L4 W34 W22 4 16 17½ 60½ 13
13 Rebecca Deland 13470414 1349 1390 W45 L2 W23 D14 W21 L5 19½ 20 69 13½
14 Annastasia Wyzywany 13984743 1801 1763 W32 W12 L9 D13 D19 D15 18 20½ 74 14
15 Amelia Wyzywany 13984737 1466 1451 L30 W37 W34 L5 W25 D14 16 18 59 11½
16 Sadia Qureshi 14024572 1607 1562 W33 L11 D30 W17 L20 W29 15½ 17½ 62 12
17 Aiya Cancio 13850035 1255 1265 D31 L10 W33 L16 W40 W21 15 16½ 58 10
18 Heather Young 13153973 1345 1368 W39 W22 L8 L3 W23 L7 3 14 20½ 75½ 13
19 Ashritha Eswaran 14044705 1484 1491 W46 D6 L10 W31 D14 L8 3 14 20 69½ 12½
20 Cheryl Liu 12848066 1580 1547 W37 L1 W32 L21 W16 L11 3 13 21 71½ 12
21 Mina Takahashi 14333584 1254 1263 L1 W38 W26 W20 L13 L17 3 13 21 69½ 12
22 Cristina Pieve Ferrer 14697376 1674 1620 W28 L18 W27 W24 L10 L12 3 13 20 70½ 13
23 Logan Schoonover 14163285 1015 1084 W4 L3 L13 W36 L18 W33 3 13 19½ 69½ 10
24 Joy Chen 13499884 1295 1293 W35 L8 W28 L22 W26 L9 3 13 19 69 12
25 Tori Whatley 13269020 1006 1018 L8 W33 L12 W42 L15 W35 3 11½ 16½ 55½ 9
26 Rea Katarina Chroneos 14431605 921 1031 L7 W35 L21 W27 L24 W34 3 11 17 61 9
27 Anjana Murali 14490650 1179 1178 L6 W46 L22 L26 W32 W30 3 11 17 55½ 8
28 Bryn Dolan 14090925 928 938 L22 W39 L24 W35 L11 W37 3 10 16 55 9
29 Elisabeth Gondolo 13236653 593 826 D10 W31 L4 W30 L5 L16 17 22 73 11
30 Isabel James 13435414 1124 1155 W15 L7 D16 L29 W31 L27 15 19 65½ 10
31 Sneha Chikkala 13008090 1271 1208 D17 L29 W36 L19 L30 W40 11½ 15 56 8
32 Chenyi Zhao 14465305 1082 1052 L14 W41 L20 D40 L27 W36 11 14½ 48½
33 Helen Vaughn 13832662 864 838 L16 L25 L17 W39 W42 L23 2 12½ 16 50 5
34 Alexandra Mann 14138695 1021 995 L2 W45 L15 W43 L12 L26 2 12 17 59 8
35 Ananya Murali 14692845 Unr. 729 L24 L26 W37 L28 W43 L25 2 12 15 49½ 6
36 Marleah Mullen 14417932 101 240 L11 W42 L31 L23 W39 L32 2 11 15 48½ 7
37 Sarah Cheatham 14220140 622 625 L20 L15 L35 W45 W38 L28 2 10½ 14 43½ 5
38 Janna Borg 13284210 645 584 L3 L21 L39 W41 L37 W42 2 14 44½ 4
39 Faith Munoz 13999788 320 367 L18 L28 W38 L33 L36 W45 2 12½ 39 5
40 Esther Whitney 14084916 823 830 L9 L4 W45 D32 L17 L31 13 17½ 57
41 Jade Hibdon 13967740 339 316 L12 L32 L42 L38 D45 W43 7 11 35 2
42 Dyhemia Young
Unr. 111 L44 L36 W41 L25 L33 L38 1 10½ 13½ 33 4
43 Aksithi Eswaran 14583755 503 445 Z5 H--- L5 L34 L35 L41 1 10½ 29
44 Mary Kerr 14437867 179 231 W42 L9 U--- U--- U--- U--- 1 1 5 20 6
45 Jenaye Hibdon 13967755 338 297 L13 L34 L40 L37 D41 L39 ½ 9 12½ 39 1
46 Evelyn Kerr 14201134 574 572 L19 L27 U--- U--- U--- U--- 0 3 6 20 0

About 400 pictures here:

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Not even a black eye is going to keep me from winning

Students use chess to help them learn skills needed for success
Posted: July 27, 2011 - 12:30am | Updated: July 27, 2011 - 12:34am

If life is a game, two Young girls are on their way to success.

Meet Dyhemia and Vanita Young. Although not related, and besides their last names, the two have more in common than one may think.

Both are charter school students; both have been involved with child services and both are skilled in the game of chess.

“I’ve been playing chess since I was in sixth grade, so probably 12 years old,” Vanita said. “I used to just move the pieces, but one day it clicked and all started making sense.”

The 17-year-old from Philadelphia is in Lubbock this week attending the Texas Tech Susan Polgar Girls Invitational. The top-rated girl from each state is invited to Texas Tech for three days of intensive training and three days of tournament play. Special invitations were also sent to a select group of girls, including Dyhemia.

Opening ceremonies for the eighth annual tournament begin today at 9:30 a.m. Players’ ages range from 5-18 years old.

Vanita is calm, but smiles when her logical skill level is discussed.

“I hope I’m going to win.”

Dyhemia cannot be ignored when she enters a room. Sixteen years old, hair loosely pulled back in a ponytail, the California teen said she is ready to play.

“I look at my life as a chess game,” Dyhemia said. “I need my pieces - my family - to be protected.”

Currently residing in a group home in San Francisco, Dyhemia said her journey to Lubbock was not a normal one.

In a news release sent to local media, it was revealed the help of a missing persons unit was needed to track down Dyhemia for an invitation to be received at all.

“I was just in between homes at the time,” she said. “I am stunned people went to the trouble they did to get me here.”

Dyhemia said Jada Pinkett-Smith’s agent sent her group home’s leader a text explaining an interest on behalf of the celebrity to assist in the trip for Dyhemia financially.

U.S. Sen. Bob Brady of Pennsylvania acted in a similar way offering to send Vanita to the invitational inspired by the aspiring Texas Tech student’s story.

“Scholarships are handed out to the winners of the tournament and I would love to come to Tech one day,” Vanita said. “It’s warm here and people are very friendly.”

Vanita and Dyhemia are both without their biological parents. Dyhemia lives with about 20 other girls in the San Francisco area and Vanita lives with her grandfather in Philadelphia.

Maintaining eye contact and a straight face, as if she had practiced, Vanita said the situation with her parents is something she still thinks about on a daily basis.

“My mom abandoned me and my dad when I was 2 and he died when I was 13,” Vanita said. “I play chess, and I don’t have to think about what’s going on in my personal life.”

Dyhemia smiles and makes large motions with her hands as if they were an outlet for her enthusiasm, explaining her personal situation. She gives little detail, rather a conclusion of sorts for what she said sums up her life.

“I put my trust in very few people and just keep my focus on my goal,” Dyhemia said. “People aren’t always going to like where you’re going, but you do what’s best for you and today that’s chess for me.”

She falls silent as she points to a bruised eye on her otherwise glowing face.

“And only a few days before I was coming to play chess,” she said. “Not even a black eye is going to keep me from winning.”

Paul Truong, the public relations and marketing coordinator for the Susan Polgar Institute for Chess Excellence, said he was impressed with the girls’ dedication and spirit throughout the past days of training.

“I came to the United States from Saigon with no money and what seemed like too many obstacles to overcome,” Truong said. “Chess helped me get to where I am today and by hosting these tournaments, we’re giving girls like the ones here the same chance.”

Today, he is an assistant coach to the No. 1 nationally ranked Knight Raiders, fresh off a title win in April.

“Like our team, these girls are good kids,” Truong said. “Chess players aren’t your typical athlete-mold and they aren’t majoring in basket weaving 101. Again, like our team, we are selective who comes to the invitational because we know what we’re looking for- logic, higher analytical thinking and perseverance.”

Vanita said she maintains A’s and B’s in her schoolwork load at Walter D. Palmer Charter School on the East Coast. She said her favorite classes are math and science.

“I’m not so great at the writing stuff,” Vanita said looking over the brim of her thin-framed glasses.

Dyhemia took a proud moment when she said she has a passion for athletics, including track and boxing.

“I guess it’s good to be well rounded,” Dyhemia, a chess player since fifth grade, said. “Smart and athletic is a combo you can’t beat.”

Both said this was their first trip to Lubbock and first time at the invitational.

Truong said all of the girls at the invitational are of a special nature and should be proud of their talents.

“It’s not a matter of if anyone is worthless at playing chess,” Truong said. “It’s the chance that they’re getting an opportunity they might not otherwise have.”

Source: Avalanche Journal

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Front page of the LA Times: Cinderella finds her chess slipper at Texas Tech in Lubbock, Texas

This is in the front page of the LA Times today!

It takes many moves to find missing young chess whiz

When news came that Dyhemia Young had been invited to a prestigious chess tournament, the 16-year-old San Franciscan had vanished. Her mentor, founder of the Hip-Hop Chess Federation, was worried.

When Dyhemia Young was invited to compete in a prestigious all-girls chess tournament, at first it looked like the biggest hurdle would be raising the money to get her there.

The Susan Polgar Girls' Invitational takes place each year at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, and the price tag for flights and accommodations was around $1,600 — a hefty sum for a 16-year-old from San Francisco's hard-knock Bayview District.

The top-rated girl from each state is invited to the annual event. Polgar, the first woman to earn the title of grandmaster, also issues two "wild card" invitations to gifted players who haven't cracked into official competition. It's a world some liken to preparing for the Olympics, with its need for money, lessons and dedicated parents.

But when Adisa Banjoko, founder of the Hip-Hop Chess Federation and Dyhemia's mentor, tried to call her in mid-June to tell her the good news, he realized the money would probably be a lot easier to find than the chess player.

Dyhemia, the very definition of wild card, had disappeared.

None of the phone numbers Banjoko had for her worked anymore, and he hadn't seen her since school let out. No one at John O'Connell High School, where he is a security guard and Dyhemia was a student, had seen the striking junior with the almond eyes, bright smile and sharp mind.

"I reached out to other kids who had gone to O'Connell on Facebook," he recounted. "I figured between Facebook and people who worked there, if that's not going to pull it off, that's bad."

Banjoko describes his protege as "a really good girl with a tumultuous home life. She's a very delicate plant in very harsh weather conditions. It's not whether or not she's a good flower. It's 'are we going to get the conditions right to help her bloom?' So far we haven't."

Dyhemia has played chess on and off since fifth grade, when her social studies teacher taught her how to navigate the 64 squares. She played for a year with Banjoko and the Hip-Hop Chess Federation in ninth grade, and he was struck by her skill. Last year, though, she began to back off.

The federation melds music, martial arts and the game of kings to teach young people the skills to help them through their difficult lives — traits like patience, planning, thinking ahead. Banjoko runs the West Coast operations; Lisa Suhay, a children's book author from Norfolk, Va., leads the East Coast effort.

With Dyhemia scarce and time running out, Suhay hit the computer. A Google search of the girl's name went nowhere, but a check of Google images June 24 gave Suhay and Banjoko their first lead: a missing person's poster from 2008.

"Missing Juvenile," its headline blared, above black-and-white photos of a wistful 13-year-old. "LSW: Blue jeans, possibly with a red jacket. Hair is in a pony tail." And finally, a phone number for the San Francisco Police Department.

Suhay emailed the poster to Banjoko. "Missing persons on her from '08," she wrote. "This our girl?"

The answer was yes, and Banjoko's heart sank. "I'm not ready for her to come up missing," he said. "I'm not ready for her to be out of state or end up dead."

Suhay dialed the number and was transferred to Det. Joseph Carroll, with the missing person's unit. "I'm going to make the strangest request you are going to get all week," she told him. A half hour later, he called back. "I've got a line on her," Carroll said. But it would take nearly a month for them to connect.

Dyhemia has been in and out of the foster care system for the last three years. Recently, it turned out, she had done a brief stint in juvenile hall — officials will not disclose why — before being sent to the East Palo Alto Teen Home on June 30. That's where Carroll tracked her down last week.

More here.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

2011 SPGI Schedule

Artwork by Mike Magnan

2011 Susan Polgar Girls’ Invitational (SPGI) Schedule

Sunday, July 24
(Holden Hall Auditorium 155)
1:00 pm: Opening Ceremony
1:30 pm – 4:30 pm: Start of training

Monday, July 25

(Education room 369-370)
9:00 am – 12:00 pm: Training
1:30 pm – 4:30 pm: Training
6:00 pm – 7:30 pm: Puzzle Solving Championship and Bughouse

Tuesday, July 26
(Education room 369-370)
9:00 am – 12:00 pm: Training
1:30 pm – 4:30 pm: Training

Wednesday, July 27

(Business Rotunda)
9:30 am: Opening Ceremony
10:00 am – 12:00 pm: Tournament Round 1
2:00 pm – 4:00 pm: Tournament Round 2
7:00 pm – 8:30 pm: Blitz Championship

Thursday, July 28
(Business Rotunda)
10:00 am – 12:00 pm: Tournament round 3
2:00 pm – 4:00 pm: Tournament round 4
6:00 pm – 8:00 pm: Tournament round 5

Friday, July 29
(Business Rotunda)
10:00 am – 12:00 pm: Tournament round 6
1:30 pm: Closing Ceremony

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

8th annual Susan Polgar Girls' Invitational (2011)

Here are the confirmed names so far. I am expecting about another 4-5 to confirm the final details soon.

Abella Clarissa
Borg Janna
Cancio Aiya
Chen Evelyn
Chen Joy
Chikkala Sneha
Chroneos Rea Katrina
Davis Katherine
DeLand Rebecca
Dolan Bryn
Eswaran Ashritha
Eswaran Aksithi
Feng Maggie
Gondolo Elisabeth
James Isabel
Liu Cheryl
Lu Mandy
Mann Alexandra
Mullen Marleah
Munoz Claudia
Munoz Faith
Murali Anjana
Murali Ananya
Naccarato Savanah
Pieve Christina
Qureshi Sadia
Sarna Kristen
Schoonover Logan
Shakoor Diamond
Takahashi Mina
Vaughn Helen
Virkud Apurva
Whatley Tori
Whitney Esther
Wyzywany Annastasia
Wyzywany Amelia
Young Dyhemia
Young Heather
Young Vanita
Zhao Chenyi

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Pop Culture

I just received the following email from a friend of mine. Here is what she wrote:

'I wanted to share this sweet story with you :-) I hope that you will enjoy it.

My daughter Margot just walked in the house after an early morning dental appointment. I had e-mailed my dentist about the event we had with (you) Susan as she has 2 small boys who like chess. Unfortunately, they had a softball game so they couldn't attend.

However, she (my dentist
) forwarded my e-mail to some of her friends with kids who were free that night. One took her little girl who is 7 years old (Ella V.).

After the event the little girl looked at her mom and said, "Mommy, this was better than meeting Justin Bieber!"

(7 year old Ella is standing next to me with the black shirt)

Thursday, July 07, 2011

8th Annual Susan Polgar Girl's Invitational

Rules and Conditions for the 8th Annual Susan Polgar Girl’s Invitational (SPGI)
July 24 – 29, 2011 at Texas Tech University (TTU) in Lubbock, Texas

Over $120,000 in chess scholarships, chess prizes, netbook computers, etc.

Susan Polgar and/or the Polgar Committee ( and its members may elect to award wild cards each year for the Susan Polgar Girl’s Invitational. If you feel that you may qualify for a wild card, please contact Susan Polgar ( or the Polgar Committee immediately.

The annual Susan Polgar Girl’s Invitational, the most prestigious all-girls event in the United States, will be held at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas. The opening ceremony will be at 1:00 PM on July 24. The format this year is similar to 2010.

• There will be a three (3) day intense world class training sessions with Susan Polgar and her team, followed by a 6 round (g/60) championship tournament.
• The traditional Blitz, Puzzle Solving, Bughouse events will stay the same as in previous years.
• There will be many chess prizes awarded, including scholarship(s) to Texas Tech University.

Each state is allowed one representative. Official representative alternates may be substituted no later than June 15. (Susan Polgar and/or the new Polgar Committee may allow the host state to enter an additional qualified player.) Susan Polgar and/or the new Polgar Committee ( may allow exceptions to the June 1 entry/alternate deadline. Should the state affiliate fail to respond to the notice for this tournament, Susan Polgar and/or the Polgar Committee may determine the candidate from that state.

Players must have been enrolled in a school (up to 12th grade) located in the state they represent, also of the year in which the tournament is held. Home-schooled students who are under the age of 19 on July 29th of the year in which the event is held or students who have never attended college on a full time basis prior to June 1 of the year in which the tournament is held, are eligible to represent the state in which they reside.

Exception: If a player graduates from high school early and is already attending college, she may still represent her state if nominated. This is the decision of each state affiliate.

VERY IMPORTANT NOTE: The participants of the Susan Polgar Girl’s Invitational DO NOT have to be high school students. Any qualifier under the age of 19 (by July 29th of the year in which the tournament is held) is eligible!

Players are required to furnish the organizer an emergency phone number and the e-mail address of a parent/guardian. There is no fee to participate in the 2011 SPGI; however, players are responsible for their own travel, room and meal expenses. If players choose to stay and/or dine on TTU’s campus, inexpensive accommodations are available. Please note that all reservations and registrations MUST be made (and accommodation expenses prepaid) no later than June 25, 2010.

Prizes: Trophies / plaques will be awarded to the winners of the Susan Polgar Girl’s Invitational Puzzle Solving, Blitz, and the SPGI Championship. Co-champions are recognized in the case of a tie, with each champion receiving a Champion’s Plaque or Trophy. The Champion (or Co-Champions) will automatically be invited to defend her/their title (must meet age requirement).

Champion: $1,000 TTU scholarship (equivalent to nearly $40,000 for an out of state student) + netbook computer + Champion's Plaque / Trophy

2nd place: $1,000 TTU scholarship (equivalent to nearly $40,000 for an out of state student) + additional prizes

3rd place: $1,000 TTU scholarship (equivalent to nearly $40,000 for an out of state student) + additional prizes

Top under 13: netbook computer
Top under 10: netbook computer

The scholarship must be exercised no later than the Fall of 2013.

The New Polgar Committee’s goal is to have all 50 states (including two representatives for California and two for Texas) and the District of Columbia represented. We strongly encourage each state and the District of Columbia affiliate to hold a scholastic championship tournament to determine each state’s champion and representative. Failing this, rating criteria may be acceptable. A scholastic girls’ champion or the highest rated girls’ scholastic player in a state who has no state affiliate of the USCF should contact the Polgar Committee as soon as possible (

Special invitation for this year only: All past participants of the SPNI and SPGI (Susan Polgar National Invitational/Susan Polgar Girls’ Invitational 2004-2010) are invited to participate in the 2011 SPGI. The idea is to have the past participants learn my method of training so they can go back home and share their knowledge with the younger players. However, registration MUST be made ASAP since space is limited. There will be separate prizes for participants over the age of 19.

Susan Polgar and/or the Polgar Committee ( and its members may elect to award wild cards each year for the Susan Polgar Girl’s Invitational.

Special qualifying events: The Polgar Committee will award automatic qualifying spots to the reigning winners in each section of the annual Susan Polgar National Open for Girls (Arizona).

Contact info: The Susan Polgar Foundation can be contacted at 806-742-7742 or through

The new SPGI Chairperson is Martha Underwood (AZ).

NOTICE TO ALL STATE OFFICIALS: Please send the nomination from your state to the Polgar Committee (

For information and rates to stay and/or dine on TTU’s campus, please send an email to or