Girls Only
Jennifer's Blog
By Jennifer Shahade   
March 17, 2007
When I worked for the New York non-profit Chess-In-The-Schools throughout and after college (1998-2005), one of my favorite programs was the Girls' Academy. I found that the all girls' training allowed girls from different schools to bond and form friendships.

Boys and girls, regardless of how talented and skilled they are, go to chess tournaments because they are fun. You're much more likely to see boys huddled over video games and pizza after the round, rather than doing meditative exercises and studying rook endings. At the Susan Polgar Chess Tournament for Girls last summer, the girls had so much fun that one parent complained to anyone who would listen that the girls were not there to play chess, but to dress up, distract the boys and go to the mall. Chess tournaments are supposed to be fun- we should cultivate that aspect of them if we want teenagers to stick with the game, especially the girls.

I always wanted to start a chess academy open to women all over New York. Ironically, it wasn't till I moved to Philly that I got it together.

I got a wonderful response to the call for interest in a girls and women's chess class at the Marshall Chess Club. My first class had 12 strong female players, from all backgrounds and ages.


The age of my students ranged from 8 to 55!

The level of the class was very strong. For an activity, I set up tactical positions to solve. Can you decipher and solve the position on the left above, and the position below?

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Talented elementary students Lilia Poteat and Maddie Bender.

The position below was extremely hard and caused my guest speaker, Irina Krush, to go into the tank. This made me worry that it was too difficult....but some of the students were such whizzes that they solved all the other problems rapidly, and soon huddled around the problem:


White to Move and Win

Scroll down for Solutions.

My first all girls' class was on March 11, the weekend before the All Girls' Nationals in Chicago (March 16-18). (I will host another all girls' class on March 25. E-mail me at jshahade@uschess.org if you'd like more info) As announced in the Chess Life Magazine preview, Irina Krush was to give a simul in the Chicago All Girls' and write the story for Chess Life Online. Unfortunately, Irina's flight (as well as 44 other East Coast participants) was canceled due to the terrible Northeast weather. Luckily, tournament director and Chess Life Online correspondent Betsy Dynako was able to fill in at the last minute, so we will still have updates from Chicago. In fact, Betsy sent us this photo from last night, in which Chicago based GM Dmitry Gurevich stepped in to replace Irina. Dmitry won 27 games and drew three. The three to earn draws were: Karsten McVay and Eve Litvak from New Jersey and Julie Flammang from New York.


Dmitry Gurevich in the Friday night Chicago simul. Photo Betsy Dynako.

Keep your eyes peeled for a full report on Chicago early next week!

Solutions:
A. 1...Qxb3!
2.axb3 a2 and the pawn is unstoppable
B. 1.Qxd7!
Rxd7 2.Re8+ Kh7 3. Rc8 with unavoidable mate on h8.
C. (the difficult one!) 1.Ba7! ,
but the fun doesn't end here. Rxa7 loses to e8=Q and Kxa7 loses to 2.Kd4 Ra4+ 3.Kd5 Ra5+ 4.Kd6 Ra6+ 5.Kd7 . But Black's best try is 1....Ra1! after which White should play 2.Kf4! Rf1+ 3.Bf2!! Rxf2 Ke3 Rf1 Ke2 and White wins.


Position after 3.Bf2!