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From Texas to Ontario: Claudia on the North American Junior Print E-mail
By Claudia Muñoz   
July 25, 2015

Every trip I have taken around the world is a new experience and my journey to the 2015 North American Junior Championships was no exception. My father is in charge of flight reservations and working out the travel logistics as my mother is my official chaperon. I love my father but he made a "small logistical mistake." He made our flight reservations from Dallas, Chicago and Toronto. It was not until we reached Chicago that my mother decided to google the distance between Toronto and Kitchener, host city of this tournament. Google said it was over 90 miles. So my mother texted my dad and asked him how were we getting from Toronto to Kitchener - a big ‘Oops' appeared in his reply.

During our flight from Chicago he was furiously googling for an answer and he decided we should rent a car. He was unaware that the Pan American Games are in Toronto at this moment - no rentals except for a bright red Camaro. My mother, who was opposed to a rental, abruptly changed her mind when she saw a bright red Camaro that was available for over $500 dollars a week. My mother's ‘enthusiasm' got my father to opt for a $137 dollar taxi ride which included both my mother and me as well as our luggage - we almost arrived in a red Camaro!

Today we went sightseeing and I can already tell that this is a lovely community. We visited the Market, a Bike Show and several other attractions. But let's get back to the chess event at hand.


This tournament is an official 9-round FIDE event not to be confused with the North American Youth Chess Championship. This is an Under-20 in both Open and Girls section and the other event is divided in categories according to ages. Kitchener, Canada is located an hour south of Toronto about 120 miles from both the New York and Michigan state lines. Tournament play starts Sunday afternoon and from then on two G/90 with 30 second increment rounds per day. The first place winner will earn the International Master or Woman International Master title as the second and third place winners the FIDE Master/Woman FIDE Master title.


The nations invited to this event besides the host nation are the United States, Mexico and Bermuda but as of this moment both Mexico and Bermuda have not sent delegation so it has become an American/Canadian affair. A total of 65 players have registered (that count can change by the time I finish this article) of which 27 are Americans in both open and girls section. All ratings are FIDE, not USCF.

Open Section

IM Safal Bora                         2406   USA
FM Awonder Liang                2404   USA   
IM Kesav Viswanadha          2367   USA
FM Kevin Wang                     2364   USA   
FM Arthur Shen                     2339   USA
Christopher Wu                     2317   USA   
Varun Krishna                        2315   USA
FM Edward Song                  2284   USA
Praveen Balakrishnan          2226   USA
Ben Li                                     2202   USA
Sanjay Ghatti                         2182   USA
Daniel Ming He                      2174   USA
Jarod M Pamatmat                2111   USA
Andrew Z Hong                     2108   USA
Samuel Fei He                       2083   USA
WCM Apurva Virkud             2064   USA
CM Taran Idnani                   1967   USA
Roshan R Idnani                   1821   USA

Girls Section

WFM Jennifer R Yu              2073   USA
WIM Annie Wang                  2065   USA
WCM Maggie Feng               2038   USA
WFM Agata Bykovtsev         2033   USA
WCM Claudia Munoz            1928   USA
WFM Kimberly Ding              1920   USA
WCM Margaret Hua              1907   USA
Alice Dong                             1841   USA
Sheena Zeng                         1621   USA


After winning the 2014 U.S. Girls Closed Championship and then participating last October in the 2014 World Girls Chess Championship in India many would have thought that by now I should have made at least made Woman FIDE Master. I just finished my junior year in high school and as college looms ahead next year, I have had to make some decisions - more education or more chess - I opted for education. As of this moment I am ranked 6th in my junior class of 500-plus students. I have one year to graduate in the number 1 position.

This summer I did not defend my U.S. Girls Closed Championship title nor did I attend the Pan American Youth Championship in Colombia or the Pan American Junior U-20 Championship in El Salvador because I was taking additional math courses as I plan to major in math in college. I never stopped training chess and I have continued to play at the Dallas and San Antonio Chess Clubs in Texas. My objective in this tournament is to take things move by move and round by round and simply focus on playing great chess. I know I will make new friends and live new experiences - that alone is worth so much to me and most importantly, I will share those experiences with US Chess readers.

Find more details on the tournament website:


Find out more about Claudia on her website, facebook and twitter.