Abby on Columbus, College and her Last Scholastic Game
By Abby Marshall   
April 16, 2010
abbypreviewWY.jpg I played my first chess game when I was six years old at the Elementary School in Columbus, Ohio. While I certainly hope that I will not be playing my last chess game ever in Columbus this weekend, on Sunday at 2pm I will be playing my last scholastic chess game.

I have high hopes for this tournament, but because it is so competitive I am not really consumed with dreams of winning, but rather I am going to enjoy the experience of finishing my scholastic career in Columbus. This is where it all started for me, where a public school program with the most wonderful coach in the world changed my life, and what I like to think led me to carve out a new place in the insular chess world that I’ve come to know well over almost thirteen years. I’ve realized that chess provides the opportunity to travel around the world, has numerous intellectual benefits, and is an endlessly rich, enjoyable game; this is true no matter your gender or whatever other excuse people come up with to stop someone from pursuing their goals in chess. I’m graduating from the children’s chess world, but there are many really great female players who are still a part of it, and they will make a difference.

It really is hard for me to believe that this is my last scholastic event. Somehow, between winning first place in novice sections and getting sixth at the K-12 Nationals in 2002, I finished elementary school; between a disappointing sixth at the K-12 Nationals in 2003 and winning the Polgar for the second time, I finished middle school; and between having a breakthrough tournament at the US Open and winning the Denker, I am finishing high school, and will graduate in June. I will actually be arriving in Columbus on Wednesday to have time to visit my old teachers and friends. My success would not have been possible without Indianola, without my family, without Mark, and without the super fantastic support of everyone else who helped me get this far.

I’m going to Barnard College in the fall. I visited the campus last week, and I think it’s the greatest place in the world because you get everything. Barnard itself is a small campus with about 600 incoming freshmen, but NYC’s Times Square is fifteen minutes away. Barnard is also a women’s college, which is cool because it focuses obviously on women’s issues and has unique resources, but it is also affiliated with Columbia University so Barnard students can take classes at Columbia and vice versa. It’s been very exciting for me to think about the next four years of my life, although I am feeling pretty directionless. Maybe I want to be an anthropology major, maybe I want to become an IM, maybe I want to try to win the Pulitzer Prize, maybe I want to drop out of school. But in all likelihood, I will be moving to New York City in the fall, which besides being a thrilling place for a nineteen year old kid to live, the city is also what I hope will great for my chess. Keep an eye open for my future blogs, which will be coming to you courtesy of me typing from a tiny dorm room in Morningside Heights.

Bookmark the High School Nationals and All-Girls Nationals pages to stay posted this weekend and look for on-scene updates by Shaun Smith and a wrap-up by Abby.