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Chess Campeona on the Move in El Paso Print E-mail
By Claudia Munoz   
June 14, 2015
There is no denying it – Social Media brings our chess community closer together. In March I received a Facebook message from Renate Garcia of El Paso, Texas explaining that she wanted to host a chess lecture, a simul for girls only, and a two-day rated tournament with several sections. She wanted me to play in the open section. She shared she wanted to fulfill a wish for her daughter Anneliese in having an event like this one. 

They wanted to name the tournament after me: ‘WCM Claudia Munoz – Chess Campeona on the Move Chess Challenge’.  I was extremely honored that they would ask me, a 17-year old girl to take center stage in an event such as this one. 


Ruben Arzaga is the Director of the Sun City Chess Academy in El Paso, Texas and he decided to join forces with Renate Garcia who was coordinating this event. They had never hosted an event like this before but they were eager to step out of their comfort zone and do something new. I held several SKYPE meetings with them as I shared my experiences in other events. Their planning and organization was impeccable. After several months of preparation, on June 5th we flew to El Paso, Texas never thinking how positively this event would impact me.  


After freshening up in our hotel we were transported to a Public Library where a ‘Meet and Greet’ had been organized in my honor.  The idea behind this short event was so people could officially welcome me to El Paso. Refreshments were served as I mingled with the crowd and answered questions during the event. I had never seen or been part of a ‘Meet and Greet’ event in chess but it gave an added value to the event. 


I decided to wear my Team USA chess shirt that I wore in the 2014 World Junior Championship in India in order to inspire the children, youth, parents and chess coaches. I was surprised to see the amount of people that had come to my chess lecture Saturday morning. I was expecting a small crowd but I was wrong! I spoke about 5-principles every chess player needs to live by on and off the chess board. 

The audience was also asked to write questions and to give them to the organizer. I encouraged deep questions and I got them. The entire one hour and forty-five minute lecture, with a break included, flew by quickly. Afterwards came the all-girl simul. The girls were so cute and eager to do their best. I won all of my games but what was more important to me was spending time with the precious girls. 


For those that follow me in social media or my website www.claudiamunoz.com must be wondering why I am not a FIDE Master or National Master by now. Last year I won the first ever 2014 U.S. Girls Closed Championship in New Hampshire and I represented the U.S. in the World Junior Championship in India. My peak rating in August was 2106 but after my return from India my rating sunk like the Titanic. My school work load and the transition we teens go through as we get closer to 18 years old are challenges I had to face in this 2015, but do not discard me yet!

By the 4th round three of us were tied for first place when I found myself facing NM Benjamin Coraretti (2270). The rating difference was 230 points but ratings do not play – players do. That is something I taught in my chess lecture.


With this win I was tied for first place with Philip Bauer but in the final round with a draw against Raynaldo Fourzan who played a tough game! I came in 2nd place with three wins, two draw and zero losses. Philip Bauer won the event and I congratulate him. 


Renate Garcia and Ruben Arzaga, as tournament organizers, incorporated security into the organization of this event. I had never seen this in a local tournament where numbers were under 100 between players, family members and coaches. Security monitored the comings and goings of players at the door and this was also important for child safety.  Security also monitored people that were not affiliated with the event. This gentleman was our tournament security – cheaters beware!


A lot of adult tournament players shy away in participating in events where numerous children compete in the lower rated sections because of the noise, but this event did not have this problem at all. First of all once children finished playing they had to leave the tournament hall but the organizers had activities for them to keep them busy outside the room. This allowed players in the Open Section not to have to deal with a noisy surrounding. 

If you have not noticed, I am Hispanic. My grandparents from both my parents side immigrated to this country two generations ago from Mexico in order to search for a better quality of life. I was born in Wichita Falls, Texas and have honorably represented Texas with pride. According to the PEW RESEARCH CENTER, we Latinos currently make up 17% of the total U.S. Population. 

El Paso’s Latino Population stands at 82% so going to a city with such a high Latino population was exciting for me. I am unaware of the Latino membership statistics within the USCF but I have been consistently the only American born Hispanic girl representing the United States in International Scholastic Tournaments since 2007 (seven countries to be exact) when I won my first international gold medal and FIDE Title at age 9. It has been our family unity, typical of our culture, and a strong faith in God that has allowed me to visit so many places while maintaining myself between the TOP 10 and TOP 30 of the USCF Girls Rating List of my age group since I was child. As I was in El Paso during the weekend activities, I noticed that other Latinos were very proud of me. You have no idea how that motivated me.  


I thank Renate Garcia and Ruben Arzaga of the Sun City Chess Academy for flying me to El Paso, Texas and for the expressions of warmth and love that I received from those who participated in my chess lecture, the beautiful girls that played in my simul and all of the participants in the ‘Chess Campeona on the Move Chess Challenge’.  I also thank CHESSKID.COM for sponsoring me with gifts for the girls in the simul. This was a great tournament and experience for me. 

In the closing ceremony I was asked to award the trophies to the winner and honestly it was so awesome to see the happiness of both children and adults. I left El Paso inspired and this summer I am going to translate that inspiration into over the board success.