On July 17, females under the age of 20 will converge on the University of New Hampshire at Manchester to battle for the United States Girls Junior Closed Championship. It will be a round-robin that will feature 10 of the top-rated competitors in the United States. This is a new event launched by the tournament promoter, Alex Relyea, and the United States Chess Federation.
Relyea has been especially active in organizing tournaments throughout New England. Michael Hickey, the interim dean of UNH-Manchester, is enthusiastic about the coming event, adding a paean to the problem-solving skills that chess play requires.
Although top international chess is largely a male-dominated game, it is a worthy reminder that the most powerful piece on the board is the queen, the male pieces being the passive king, and the minority rooks, bishops, and knights. Women have been active in chess from the time of the Middle Ages. There is a 15th-century manuscript in which a woman plays against the devil and the stake of the game is her soul. Lucky, then, that the stakes in the current tournament are cash prizes and rating points.
UNH-Manchester will provide for the winner a $10,000 four-year scholarship to UNH. The event’s prize fund of $6,200 will be provided by Relyea Chess. New Englanders will be interested in the participation of 10-year-old Carissa Yip, whose rating has been escalating toward her goal of being the youngest-ever American female chess master. She is the highest-rated girl in New England and has received a wild-card invitation because of her status.
But Yip will have plenty of competition from Akshita Gorti, the third highest-rated girl under 20 worldwide, as well as Rochelle Ballantyne, who appeared in the 2012 documentary “Brooklyn Castle.”
Two New Jersey natives, Alice Dong, with a rating of 2046, and Kimberly Ding ( 2091), are also competing. However, the clear favorites will be Maggie Feng of Ohio (2173) and Jennifer Yu of Virginia (2172). Yip will be the third highest-rated player. The rest of the field includes Apurva Virkud of Virginia (2104), Becca Lampman of Washington state (2091), and Claudia Muñoz of Texas (2060).
Some of these girls can look forward to the All Girls National Tournament in Orlando in August, which is held each year by the USCF. Each state is represented by a competitor.
Brevity: J. Kleinert v. V. Tukmakov (2000) 1.e4 c5 2.c3 d5 3.exd5 Qxd5 4.d4 g6 5.Nf3 Bg7 6.Be2 Nf6 7.c4 Qd8 8.d5 b5 9.cxb5 Nxd5 10.0–0 0–0 11.Qb3 e6 12.Rd1 Nd7 13.Nc3 Bb7 14.Bg5 Qc7 15.Rac1 Rac8 16.Na4 h6 17.Be3 Nxe3 18.Qxe3 Bd5 19.Nxc5 Bxb2 20.Na6 Bxc1; 0-1
Winners: Worcester June Knights: 1st-2d: John Curdo, Alonzo Ross, 3-1, 3d (tie): Mike Odell, Collins Apiri, 2.5 - 1.5; Billerica June Swiss: 1st: Arthur Nugent, 3.5-0.5, 2d-4th: John Vaughan, Tim Bromley, Ray Paulson, 3-1
Coming events: 2014 Waltham Chess Club Blitz Championship, July 18, 25, 12-round rated Double Swiss, G/5; d0, IBM office building cafeteria, 404 Wyman St., Waltham; 64th New Hampshire Open, July 23-25, Holiday Inn Nashua, 9 Northeastern Blvd., Nashua, N.H. 03062,