Chess and girl power
The 2012 Susan Polgar Girls' Invitational took place last week at Webster University, and the best chess-playing girls in the country went head-to-head for more than $100,000 in scholarships and prizes. This marked the ninth installment of this invitational tournament but the first time this annual event was hosted in St. Louis.
Polgar moved to St. Louis this summer to coach Webster’s new collegiate chess team, but she also is heavily involved in scholastic chess, specifically tournaments for girls. This year’s installment featured 48 of the strongest female scholastic chess players in the nation.
Missouri was well represented with local talent Margaret Hua as well as Kansas City's own Zoe Lemon. Margaret and Zoe typically dominate girls chess in Missouri. Rounding out the Missouri contingent was Iris Zhou, 8, a frequent visitor to the Chess Club and Scholastic Center in the Central West End.
Margaret did not have her best event, but she tied for 6th place in the 48-player field with a score of four points out of six games (4/6). Iris did quite well, scoring two points, even though she was the youngest participant! Zoe had a fantastic tournament, scoring 4.5 points, which put her only half a point behind the players who tied for 2nd place.
New Jersey's Alice Dong took first place overall, with a score 5.5/6. Alice managed to win her last-round game against then-tournament leader Michelle Chen (Michelle was 5-0 at that point!) to win the title.
I visited the event last Thursday to root on our local players, and the tournament was first class. I have known Susan and her husband, Paul, for many years, and they always organize excellent events. The qualified players even received free hotel rooms and meals during the tournament, and scholarships were given to the top finishers.
Strong scholastic events such as these will only serve to further cement St. Louis as the chess capital of the world.
For hundreds of pictures and final standings, go to: http://polgargirls.blogspot.com/
Ben Finegold is the GM in residence at the St. Louis Chess Club and Scholastic Center.