Jamison Unstoppable in Polgar
By Randy Wheeless   
August 2, 2008
Susan Polgar, Ashley Carter, Rebekah Liu, Courtney Jamison, Miss Lubbock, Amanda Gass and Linda Diaz. Photo Paul Truong

LUBBOCK, Texas -There was no catching Courtney Jamison of Texas as she jumped out to a quick lead and coasted in for the victory at the 5th Annual GM Susan Polgar National Invitational for Girls.

The week-long event, held at Texas Tech, brings together the best scholastic female players in the nation. A total of 52 players participated.

The top-rated Jamison, 16, was a perfect 5-0 after five rounds - and secured sole possession of the title by snagging a final-round draw with Linda Diaz from New York. While many upsets happened around her, Jamison remained rock solid.

"I've been close to winning this before," said the recent Pan-American Youth medalist. "I was helped by the upsets that began in the second round. I was just glad one of those upsets wasn't me."

Jamison said she was determined to avoid too many draws. At last year's event, she posted three draws and ended up tied for third. She was proud of this second-round contest with Shinan Jin of Pennsylvania.


Courtney Jamison with Susan Polgar. Photo Randy Wheeless


Jamison won a $500 scholarship for the win. Texas Tech also presented a scholarship to the top finishing player going into the 12th grade. Nisha Deolalikar of California was awarded that scholarship.

Diaz, 13, who finished second, was awarded the Ursula Foster $500 prize as the top player under the age of 14. Diaz arrived in Lubbock shortly before the first round Sunday and started slowly - drawing Joanna Gossell of Missouri. But Diaz quickly recovered and reeled off four wins before drawing with Jamison in the last round.

Diaz was proudest of her fourth-round win of Angel Bohannon of Texas. Bohannon had beaten her in April at the All Girls Nationals in Dallas. However, the New Yorker gained revenge in this game:


The best results didn't always belong to the top finishers. Melanie Newell, 16, of Mississippi started in the bottom half of the field with an 1198 rating. But she fired off three wins over opponents who, on average, were 400 points higher than her. She'll add more than 100 points to her rating.

"Two of my wins were come-from-behind, so my end game really helped," she said. "But I tried not to get over-confident. It seemed like every round was tougher than the last."

Newell will lend support to her brother, Lorenzo, who will represent Mississippi at the Denker Tournament of High School Champions that starts Aug. 3.

Top 10 Finishers

   1. Courtney Jamison, Texas
   2. Linda Diaz, New York
   3. Ashley Carter, Michigan
   4. Rebekah Liu, California
   5. Angel Bohannon, Texas
   6. Nisha Deolalikar, California
   7. Brianna Conley, Ohio
   8. Michelle Xue Chen, Massachusetts
   9. Amelia Wheeless, North Carolina
  10. Rita Mirchandani, Florida

Blitz Champs Ashley Carter and Janice Chen receive awards.

Side Event Winners

* Blitz - (tie) Ashley Carter, Michigan; Janice Chen, Utah

* Puzzle-Solving - Rebekah Liu, California

* Bughouse- (tie)
-- Courtney Jamison, Texas/Sylvia Yang, Texas

-- Ashley Carter, Michigan/Rita Mirchandani, Florida

Check out the full results and more photos on Susan Polgar's Blog.

Randy Wheeless is the president of the N.C. Chess Association.