Back to School with Becca Lampman
August 27, 2014
Becca Lampman, Photo Maureen Grimaud
Incoming high school senior Becca Lampman took a run for the National Girls Invitational Tournament (NGIT) in Orlando by defeating #1 seed Annie Wang. She talked to CLO about making her mark on the tournament, the rise of girls in US Chess and balancing chess and homework. Look for the next profile in our Back to School series with National Chess Scholar award recipient Jeevan Karamsetty.
CLO: Tell us about playing in the NGIT. How did you prepare for it?
Becca Lampman (BL): Preparing for the NGIT consisted of mainly opening preparation. I tend to be very lazy when it comes to openings, but if I wanted to be able to compete with the best girls, in the nation I needed to have strong opening knowledge.
CLO: How did you feel going into the game with the tournament favorite Annie Wang?
BL: To be honest, I was extremely nervous before the game. As soon as I saw the pairings I immediately began opening preparation. My nerves didn't go away until I had secured the full point.

CLO: Did the opening go as you expected?
BL: The opening couldn't have gone any better. My preparation ended when she castled queen side, but I felt like I understood the position well enough that it wasn't a big deal.


CLO: What was your reaction after winning?
BL: After winning, of course, I was extremely happy. After the game I felt like I had a decent chance of winning first, but I knew still I had two more difficult games to go through.
CLO: How do playing in prestigious all-girls events like the NGIT differ from most of the tournaments you play in?
BL: Often I am either the only girl, or one of only two or three girls playing in the open section at any regular event.  I also haven't played many scholastic events in the past few years.  I've found looking for the best competition meant leaving the scholastic opportunities behind and playing open tournaments.
NGIT co-champ (with the best tiebreaks) Jennifer Yu vs. Becca Lampman 

CLO: There are more girls playing chess right now in the USCF than ever before (as elaborated upon in USCF President Ruth Haring's report). Why do you think that is and do you think it will continue to increase?
BL: Chess in general is becoming more popular in the lower scholastic grades in many areas.  But, as kids get older, chess has to compete for their time against many other, often times more popular, activities. Specifically in the teenage years, chess has been traditionally seen as an activity for "nerds." Admitting to your friend you can't go to their birthday party because you have a chess tournament is never easy, and majority of the time the party will win (for most players). But there are so many more tournament opportunities for girls today, balancing a social life and chess is so much easier.  I also think chess is breaking away from the "nerd" stereotype.  
NGIT Co-champions: Claudia Munoz, Jessica Regam & Jennifer Yu

CLO: How does your study routine with chess differ in the summer and the school year?
BL: During the summer, most of my days are focused on chess. I am able to dedicate 3-4 sometimes more hours focusing on just chess, with the rest of my time spent applying for college scholarships and studying for the SAT. During the school year, I am lucky if I can fit in 30 minutes of chess a day. My course load is all advanced placement classes and so my days are spent at school, then immediately coming home to 3 hours or more of homework...which takes away a lot of energy and time I have for chess.

CLO: What advice do you have for young people balancing chess and school?
BL: Always do homework before you even think about chess. Otherwise, you can get caught up analyzing a position, doing tactics, etc. and stopping to begin your schoolwork is difficult, or may not even happen.
CLO: Do you remember the first USCF tournament you ever played in? 
BL: Yes!  I was at the end of my 4th grade year in school and had just learned to play chess at recess from a couple of boys in my class.  My mom and I ran into one of the boys and his mother at the library and she invited us to come to a tournament the next weekend that was in a nearby town.  I had no idea what to expect and figured I would lose every game.  Instead, I did really well in the unrated section and won 6th place and a trophy.  I was hooked. 
Becca Lampman with her mother Jill

CLO: Your email handle includes AsianPride- tell us a little about your family.  
BL: I am Chinese-American and was born in Yichun, China.  When I was almost 2 years old, I was adopted by my mother and came to live in Washington State.  I have an older sister, Elena, who is also adopted, from Romania.

CLO: Do you have an all-time favorite game?



Although, the game is far from perfect and is a bit old, this remains my favorite game because it was the first time I felt like I simply outplayed a master.

CLO: Who do you think will win the ongoing Sinquefield Cup and why?
BL: I am rooting for Hikaru Nakamura to win because I love watching his games. Though, I believe that Carlsen will walk away the champion. His play is extremely solid and I believe he is far ahead of the rest of the competition.