Having the Confidence to Do What is Right

Please click the link below to read an inspiring article about girls chess, from the April 2016 issue of Chess Life for Kids, about Four Star Admiral Michelle Howard’s visit to the DC Chess Club.

Admiral Howard understands confidence, hard work and being a strong women. She dared to go where no woman had gone before, and succeeded to break barriers for others to follow. She is a hero and role model for women and girls. Admiral Michelle Howard was the first African-American woman to command a U.S. ship!

Having the Confidence to do what is Right by Jim Doyle  Pages 12-15.

The article starts on page 11. We thank the Chess Director of Publications, Daniel Lucas, for permission to reprint this article on this website.

“Commitment and focus to your goals gets you so far in so many areas of life. In chess, you have to be focused and committed to the goal of checkmate.”

“It’s wonderful to see you here ready to play chess and willing to take on something that’s mentally hard and will make you mentally tough. I think that’s just wonderful”

“It is the practice of doing things that gives you confidence.”

2016 National Girls Tournament of Champions Announces New Scholarship

The 2015 National Girls Champions: Veronika Zilajeva, Anupama Rajendra, Jennifer Shahade, Evian Xiang, Jennifer Yu and Jon Haskel, Photo Jeff Smith

The 2015 National Girls Champions: Veronika Zilajeva, Anupama Rajendra, Jennifer Shahade, Evian Xiang, Jennifer Yu and Jon Haskel, Photo Jeff Smith

The 2015 National Girls Champs: Veronika Zilajeva, Anupama Rajendra, Jennifer Shahade, Evian Xiang, Jennifer Yu and Jon Haskel, Photo Jeff Smith

By US Chess|January 20, 2016

US Chess is happy to announce a $5000 scholarship for the winner of the 2016 National Girls Tournament of Champions from July 29-August 2 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (previously the NGIT). The scholarship is generously funded by Richard and Barbara Schiffrin of PA.

Richard told US Chess why it was important to him to offer a scholarship for this prestigious girls tournament, “Not only do chess players learn analytical and strategic skills, but… colleges and employers (so often) associate chess with brains; so many more boys access these benefits, and it’s time for girls to catch up. There isn’t a college or employer on earth who won’t be impressed by an applicant who says “chess player.”

Jean Hoffman, executive director of US Chess, said “We are thrilled with Richard and Barbara’s donation, and know this will be an incentive for girls to qualify and prepare for this exciting event.”
The six round tournament will be held in conjunction with the Denker tournament of high-school champions and Barber K-8 Championships. Players will be encouraged to play the 2016 US Open immediately after the event.
National Master and World Youth gold medalist Jennifer Yu was joined by Veronika Zilajeva, Anupama Rajendra and Evan Xiang, as co-champions of the 2015 tournament.

This scholarship will be valid for any institution of higher learning and will be complemented by other stipends/prizes to be detailed later.

Each state affiliate is invited to send one representative, a female player in grades K-12 who has demonstrated her ability in a manner satisfactory to the state affiliate. Each affiliate is encouraged to arrange for an alternate player to attend should the original selected player be unable to participate. If there are an odd number of players, the host state affiliate may include a second participant to complete the field of players.

Carissa Yip Breaks Master Record

“Follow Your Heart”

March 4, 2015

Carrissa300a11-year-old Carissa Yip of Massachusetts, born on September 10, 2003, has become the youngest female in history to earn the chess master title. Less than a year ago, Annie Wang broke Irina Krush’s decade-long record and now Carissa has beaten Annie’s record by four months.

Carissa’s current rating on MSA is 2203 after scoring a key victory vs. a 2300 at the Legends of Chess at the Boylston Chess Club. See Carissa’s annotations to the game below and also see Carissa’s victory over GM Ivanov here.

Congrats to our new young master who told CLO readers, “Follow your heart, and you will have no regrets.”

Williams,Chris (2309) – Yip,Carissa (2150) [B70]

I just finished the World Amateur Team tournament in New Jersey last week. After returning home, I played on Thursday night, and Friday night. This morning I skipped the first round and started at the second round. After 2 wins, I was very tired, and planned to withdraw after 2 games as I normally do. However, I wasn’t sure this time. I knew that I would become a master if I could win this game. I would get more than 40 rating points! But I never beat Chris before. He is a very strong master. I talked to my dad, and my dad told me not to think too much about ratings. He told me to listen to my heart.

1.e4 c5 Follow my heart! 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6 6.Be2 Bg7 7.Nb3 A strange move, usually played when black plays Nc6 7…a6 The plan is to attack on the Queen side 8.g4I never saw this line before. 8…b5 8.b5

I continued with my plan as White seems to have weakened the kingside 9.g5 Nfd7 10.f4 Bb7 11.Be3 b4 12.Nd5 Nc6 13.Nd4 e6 14.Nxc6 Bxc6 15.Bd4 e5 16.fxe5 Bxd5 17.exd5 This is another possibility 17.exd6 Bxe4 18.Bxg7 Bxh1 19.Bxh8 Qxg517…Qxg5 18.e6 Nf6 19.Bf3 19.exf7+ Kxf7.  I have connected my rooks and can do manual castling if I need to Keep my king safe and develop my Rook. White’s a-rook is not developed yet. Black has a huge advantage 20.Qd2 Ne4! This is a winning move.

Ne4After the exchange, Black has a winning endgame 21.Qxg5 21.Bxe4 Qh4+ 22.Bf2 Qxe4+ 23.Qe2 Qxh1+; 21.Qd3 Bxd4 22.Qxe4 Bxb2 23.Rb1 Bc3+21…Nxg5 22.Bxg7 Nxf3+ 23.Kf2 Kxg7 24.Kxf3 fxe6+ 25.Ke4 exd5+ 26.Kxd5 Rf2! Game over

Finalyip 27.Rac1 Rc8 28.c4 bxc3 29.bxc3 Rxa2 30.Kxd6 Rd2+ 31.Ke7 Rc4 32.Rhe1 Rxh2 33.Re6 Rh3 34.Rxa6 Rcxc3 35.Rca1 Rcd3 36.Re6 Rhe3 37.Re1 Rxe1 38.Rxe1 Rf3 39.Ke6 g5 40.Ra1 Kg6 41.Ke5 Rf5+ 42.Ke4 h5 43.Ra8 Rf4+ 44.Ke3 h4 45.Rh8 Kf5 46.Ra8 h3 47.Ra1 Kg4 White resigned 0-1

Reprinted with permission from the United States Chess Federation. Thank you!

Anything is Possible


Excerpt courtesy of Chess Life Online

September 3, 2014






Carissa Yip, Photo Tony Cortizas Jr.

10-year-old Carissa Yip defeated her first GM, Alexander Ivanov at the New England Open held over Labor Day weekend.

She told CLO: “Anything is possible if you try hard enough, like beating a GM.” 🙂

As we confirm this as a record, here are some comparisons: GM Irina Krush defeated her first GM, Alexander Stripunsky at age 13. Judit Polgar, the highest rated female in chess history, defeated GM Lev Gutman at age 11. Polgar, 38, recently announced her retirement from competitive chess.

Despite this loss, Ivanov went on to tie for first in the tournament with Abdi Farzad.
Carissa’s rating is now 2131 and has till June 2015 to beat Annie Wang’s recently set record for the youngest female USCF master. As Dylan McClain pointed out in the New York Times, Annie broke a record older than she was previously held by GM Krush.

Complete article available at: http://www.uschess.org/content/view/12787/772

Back to School with Becca Lampman

Incoming high school senior Becca Lampman took a run for the National Girls Invitational Tournament (NGIT) in Orlando by defeating #1 seed Annie Wang. She talked to CLO about making her mark on the tournament, the rise of girls in US Chess and balancing chess and homework.

CLO: Tell us about playing in the NGIT. How did you prepare for it?
Becca Lampman (BL): Preparing for the NGIT consisted of mainly opening preparation. I tend to be very lazy when it comes to openings, but if I wanted to be able to compete with the best girls, in the nation I needed to have strong opening knowledge.

CLO: How did you feel going into the game with the tournament favorite Annie Wang?
BL: To be honest, I was extremely nervous before the game. As soon as I saw the pairings I immediately began opening preparation. My nerves didn’t go away until I had secured the full point.

CLO: Did the opening go as you expected?
BL: The opening couldn’t have gone any better. My preparation ended when she castled queen side, but I felt like I understood the position well enough that it wasn’t a big deal.

CLO: What was your reaction after winning?
BL: After winning, of course, I was extremely happy. After the game I felt like I had a decent chance of winning first, but I knew still I had two more difficult games to go through.

CLO: How does playing in prestigious all-girls events like the NGIT differ from most of the tournaments you play in?
BL: Often I am either the only girl, or one of only two or three girls playing in the open section at any regular event. I also haven’t played many scholastic events in the past few years. I’ve found looking for the best competition meant leaving the scholastic opportunities behind and playing open tournaments.

CLO: There are more girls playing chess right now in the USCF than ever before (as elaborated upon in USCF President Ruth Haring’s report). Why do you think that is and do you think it will continue to increase?
BL: Chess in general is becoming more popular in the lower scholastic grades in many areas. But, as kids get older, chess has to compete for their time against many other, often times more popular, activities. Specifically in the teenage years, chess has been traditionally seen as an activity for “nerds.” Admitting to your friend you can’t go to their birthday party because you have a chess tournament is never easy, and majority of the time the party will win (for most players). But there are so many more tournament opportunities for girls today, balancing a social life and chess is so much easier. I also think chess is breaking away from the “nerd” stereotype.

CLO: How does your study routine with chess differ in the summer and the school year?
BL: During the summer, most of my days are focused on chess. I am able to dedicate 3-4 sometimes more hours focusing on just chess, with the rest of my time spent applying for college scholarships and studying for the SAT. During the school year, I am lucky if I can fit in 30 minutes of chess a day. My course load is all advanced placement classes and so my days are spent at school, then immediately coming home to 3 hours or more of homework…which takes away a lot of energy and time I have for chess.

CLO: What advice do you have for young people balancing chess and school?
BL: Always do homework before you even think about chess. Otherwise, you can get caught up analyzing a position, doing tactics, etc. and stopping to begin your schoolwork is difficult, or may not even happen.

CLO: Do you remember the first USCF tournament you ever played in?
BL: Yes! I was at the end of my 4th grade year in school and had just learned to play chess at recess from a couple of boys in my class. My mom and I ran into one of the boys and his mother at the library and she invited us to come to a tournament the next weekend that was in a nearby town. I had no idea what to expect and figured I would lose every game. Instead, I did really well in the unrated section and won 6th place and a trophy. I was hooked.

CLO: Your email handle includes AsianPride- tell us a little about your family.
BL: I am Chinese-American and was born in Yichun, China. When I was almost 2 years old, I was adopted by my mother and came to live in Washington State. I have an older sister, Elena, who is also adopted, from Romania.

CLO: Do you have an all-time favorite game?

BL: In the Gersham Open in 2013 I played Carl Haessler who had the white pieces and I played black. Although, the game is far from perfect and is a bit old, this remains my favorite game because it was the first time I felt like I simply outplayed a master.

View complete story at: http://www.uschess.org/content/view/12781/772/

Courtesy of Chess Life Online

Chesscampeon’s Lessons from the NGIT

Excerpt courtesy of ChessKid.com
By chesscampeona

Claudia Munoz Photo
WCM Claudia Munoz is a new Ambassador for ChessKid.com. You’ll read about her chess career, learn tips, and be on the way to following in her footsteps. You can also log on to ChessKid.com most Fridays between 5-7 p.m. Eastern to see her play or even challenge her to a game!

Middleton, Wisconsin is a small, beautiful, green suburb. More importantly, it was the home of the 2013 National Girls Invitational. The town is outside of Madison, home of the 114th U.S. Open, which occurred at around the same time. I really applaud the tournament directors and staff for making a week full of fun chess possible.—–
This article is about my participation in the first-ever National Girls Invitational. In order to receive such an invitation, I had to qualify as a state representative – in my case, Texas. Yes, I am from the Lone Star State and am proud of it.

Back in January the USCF posted on its site the information about this tournament. The tournament information said that each state should have a qualifier in order to choose the one and only girl who would represent that state. After my father contacted the Texas Chess Association, they decided that the best placed female finisher in the High School Section of the Texas State Scholastic Championship would be the official representative.
I got eighth place overall out of more than 100 chess players in that tournament. I was one of the few girls. The other girl who was closest to me came in about 30 to 50 slots behind me, so I was named the official Texas representative for the National Girls Invitational Tournament or NGIT.

Texas Flag with Chess Pieces

Since I normally do not play in girls-only tournaments, a few months prior in April, I played in the 2013 All-Girls National Championships in Chicago as a practice tournament for the NGIT. I won first place, winning six of six. I was undefeated and I got my picture taken with Garry Kasparov. However, the results in Chicago were nothing like the results I earned in the National Girls Invitational. Therefore, let me share some tips that I learned along the way before, during, and after this tournament.

Traveling is always a fun thing to do, especially when you get to visit new places! But traveling can become crazy when you do not plan it correctly. Here are two tips on traveling:
1. Make sure to travel at least one day prior to your tournament. Why? Unexpected situations, weather, and plane malfunctions can only add to the craziness. Therefore, traveling at least one day prior can prevent you from arriving late or stressed to the tournament.
2. If you are flying make sure you have sufficient time to get from one plane to the next. Trust me, it is not fun when you have to run from one terminal to the next because you have a connecting flight in 30 minutes. Therefore, plan for at least a two to three hour layover.

Sportsmanship is not only respecting your opponent and being nice, it is also about applauding them when they defeat you. In the NGIT, I went undefeated halfway through the tournament but in the second half of the event the bottom fell for me. In the fourth round, I lost against Michelle Chen – the game received the “Best Game Award” of the tournament. She won $50 dollars for her victory, the game was posted on Chess Life Online, and it was broadcast live on the internet.

Jennifer Shahade Photo
2013 Winners of NGIT Class Prizes. Jennifer Skidmore (l) and                                                                   WGM Jennifer Shahade (r) (photo courtesy U.S. Chess Trust)

Humbling! Did that make me bitter? No. Just like there are great moments in chess, there are difficult moments that need to be translated into educational and learning episodes on the journey called “Chess.” The following day, I sent her a Facebook message congratulating her (we were not yet Facebook friends) and she kindly answered with a “friend request.” Now I have made an excellent friend for life.
So, even when you lose, be happy and thank your opponent, because they helped you identify areas of opportunities for improvement in your chess game. In other words they just made you better .

Complete article available at:  http://www.chesskid.com/article/view/chesscampeona-on-the-move

Chess Summer

Chess Summer 2014

WCM Claudia Munoz www.claudiamunoz.com
July 31, 2014


2014 Co-Champions l to r Claudia Munoz, Jessica Regam, Jennifer Yu

NATIONAL GIRLS INVITATIONAL – Award Ceremony: Words cannot describe what I am feeling in this particular moment but one thing is for sure, I will always remember the chess summer of 2014!I know you guys have been following me this week from my first round loss and as I won round after round until I won the final round today becoming 2014 National Girls Invitational Champion.

Obviously I did not do this by myself.  My strong spiritual relationship with God is a motivating factor. The relationship I have with my mother and sister as well as father (who is my chess coach) is special and it fuels my round by round performance, even when my dad gets massively upset at me as he did in my first round loss – he means well or else I would not be where I am today in the chess world. July of 2014 has marked my life in many ways, I knew I was going to do well in both the U.S. Girls Closed Championship and the National Girls Invitational, but wow!!

I have to applaud several people along the way as well. I could not have won this event if Jessica Regam had not defeated Jennifer Yu in the last round as she was the sole leader. Also, I had to defeat Becca Lampman in the last round as well, but had she not defeated WIM Annie Wang in the 3rd round, the road would not have been paved for me. Therefore, I cannot write this article and simply applaud myself. Other did their work as well. However, I did have one objective that I had to reach – win every round and not worry about what everyone else did.  I applaud the Co-Champions of this 2014 National Girls Invitational – Jennifer Yu, Jessica Regam and myself. Last year I came in 13th place in this event after having started in the 6th position.

At 11, New Master Breaks Record


Excerpt from the New York Times
Chess Column

May 10, 2014
An 11-year-old Californian in March became the youngest American girl to ever become a master, breaking a record that had stood for 18 years.
The girl, Annie Wang, of La Cañada Flintridge, Calif., earned the rank at the National Junior Chess Congress in Irvine, Calif., where she won the 12-and-under division. The victory pushed her rating past 2,200, the level required for a master. The record had been held by Irina Krush, now the United States women’s champion, who was 12 when she became a master.
Annie, a sixth grader who will turn 12 in a week, started playing when she was 5. She took up the game, Annie said in an email, because she thought the pieces “looked interesting.” Chess is “the equivalent of video games for me,” she said.
Despite her recent achievement, Annie may not be the country’s youngest girl to be a master for very long. Carissa Shiwen Yip, 10, a fifth grader from Chelmsford, Mass., has a rating of 2,143. Carissa is 16 months younger than Annie, so she has until June 2015 to earn the 57 points she needs to become a master and break the record.
Complete article available at: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/11/us/at-11-new-master-breaks-record-older-than-she-is.html?_r=0