Delaware’s very own Ann Marie Fitch recently traveled to Texas to play in the Susan Polgar National Invitational for Girls. During her trip, Ann Marie kept a journal of her thoughts and adventures. We bring you this journal in three parts…
Techmate II: My Experience at SPNI 2009
I recently traveled to Texas Tech University in Lubbock, TX, to attend the 6th annual Susan Polgar National Invitational (SPNI) for Girls. The tournament took place from July 26th until August 1st, and this year it was bigger and better than ever. This was my third year attending the tournament, and the second year that it was held at Texas Tech University. There was a record number of participants, with 60 girls from around the country competing to show their chess prowess. There were also some new, exciting events that weren’t a part of the tournament last year. My score at the tournament was better than last year too. The journal that follows is my experience at the tournament.
July 25th, 2009 – arrival in TX
Today, I flew to Texas with my mom, and there were interesting occurrences as soon as we arrived at the airport. Security at the Philadelphia International Airport had to scan my chess set twice. I though that was a pain, but I would find out the next day that Brianna from Ohio had her clock removed from chess set, and the security guards were pushing the plungers… maybe they suspected that it was something else. We flew from Philadelphia to Dallas/Ft. Worth, and I pulled a prank which involved poking fun at a certain Dallas sports team (those who know me well enough will be able to identify said team) during my three-hour layover at the Dallas/Ft. Worth airport. Luckily, I was still in one piece when we finally flew from Dallas/Ft. Worth to Lubbock. After arriving at Texas Tech University, we checked in at Gordon Hall and received the keys for our dorm.
July 26th, 2009 – Opening Ceremony and Round 1
The opening ceremony of SPNI was today. The ceremony consisted of some speeches and the singing of the national anthem. Then each participant was recognized and received a medallion, a Susan Polgar rookie card, and a bag full of items from the TTU College of Engineering. There were refreshments after the opening ceremony was over, and then the first round of the tournament began. My opponent was Brianna Conley from Ohio. She was rated 1507, and I lost my game to her. We reviewed the game after it was over. Then my mom and I drove around to find the TTU Recreation Center and the new TTU chess park, which would be dedicated the next day.
July 27th, 2009 – Ribbon-Cutting of Chess Park, Round 2, Puzzle Solving, and Lecture
Today was a very busy day. I participated in three different exciting activities besides my round. The first event of the day was the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new TTU chess park. This day made collegiate chess history because TTU became the first college or university to open a chess park. Some of money for the marble chess tables and benches was anonymously donated. There were six tables split into pairs, with three sets of benches. This meant that players could play a regular game of chess or join with three other people for bughouse-style chess. There was also a handicap-accessible table so that people in wheelchairs could play as well. After a few speeches from different members of Texas Tech University, it was time to cut the big red ribbon, and participants of SPNI were appropriately given this honor. After the ribbon was cut, I took two pieces and had one of them signed by GM Polgar as a souvenir.
Early in the afternoon, I played the second round of the SPNI. My opponent was Nicole Spencer from North Carolina. Nicole was rated 1157, and I won! It was an upset!!! My mom and I were both really excited. We went back to the dorm so that I could relax for a little while before the rest of the events for the day, which were the puzzle solving contest and a lecture by GM Polgar herself.
The puzzle solving challenge took place later in the evening at Frazier Pavilion. The contest involved ten chess positions in which you had to find a checkmate anywhere from one to five moves ahead, and the puzzles were a lot harder this year than they were last year. There ended up being only one girl, Epiphany Peters, who was able to solve all ten puzzles correctly, so she was declared the winner.
The lecture by GM Polgar that followed was very interesting. GM Polgar ran the lecture question-and-answer style, so that the girls would be able to learn what they wanted to know about her. I was one of the first people to ask a question. My question was, “What was the most unusual situation you have encountered during a match or tournament, and how did you deal with it?” GM Polgar thought for a minute, and I thought that maybe I had surprised her with my question, which indeed turned out to be the case. GM Polgar said that it was a very good question, and that in all of her past Q & A sessions (which would be a fairly high number), she had never recalled being asked that question before. Her answer to my question was that she once played in a game that lasted 16 hours, and she dealt with the long match by staying focused and taking advantage of the short breaks when they were provided.
to be continued…