I was given the privilege of representing Texas in the NGTOC, or the Ruth Haring National Girls Tournament of Champions. On August 3rd, I traveled to Orlando, Florida to compete with the top girls from every state. There, I played 6 games, all of which were game 90, 30 second increment. I beat Charlotte Keys from South Carolina, Angelica Chin from New Jersey, and Shannon Robertson from Kentucky and lost against Alice Lee from Minnesota, Marissa Li from Illinois, and Julia Sevilla from California. Though I received a total score of 3.0, I was pretty happy with the quality of my games, managing to upset a 2000 during round 2. In particular, the game I played against Alice Lee, who ranked third in the tournament, was very interesting.

1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. Nf3 e6 5. Bg5 Be7 6. e3 Nbd7 7. Bd3 O-O 8. O-Ob6 9. Qe2 {Bb7 would’ve been better here} Ba6 10. e4 dxc4 11. Bxc4 Bxc4 12. Qxc4 Rc8 13. Rfd1 h6 14. Bxf6 Nxf6 15. Qe2 {Although not terrible, Both trading her bishop with my knight and moving the queen back gave her a more passive position, letting me gain more initiative.} Qc7 16. Rac1 Qb7 17. h3 Rfd8 18. Ne5 c5 19. dxc5 Bxc5 20. Ng4 Nxg4 21. hxg4 Rd4 22. a3 a5 23. Kf1 Rcd8 (23… Rxd1+ 24. Qxd1 Be7 25. Qe2 b5 26. Rd1) 24. Rxd4 Rxd4 (24… Bxd4 25. Rd1 Qe7 26. Nb5) 25. Rd1 Qd7 (25… Rxd1+ 26. Qxd1 Qc7 27. g3) 26. Rxd4 Qxd4 27. Nb5 Qd7 (27… Qe5 28. g3 Qg5 29. f4 Qd8 30. Ke1) 28. g3 Kh7 29. Kg2 f6 30. a4 e5 31. b3 g5 {A small mistake, turning a drawn position into a slightly losing one. g5 results in a more vulnerable king (as it opens the 7th row) as well as giving my opponent more targets.} 32. Nc3 Kg7 33. Nd5 Kg6 34. f3 Qc6 35. Qc4 Qb7 36. Qb5 Kf7 37. Nc3 Qe7 38. Qc4+ Qe6 39. Nd5 Kg7 40. Qa6 Qd7 41. Qa8 Bd4 42. Qg8+ Kxg8 43. Nxf6+ Kf7 44. Nxd7 Ke7 45. Nb8 Kd6 46. Na6 Kc6 47. b4 axb4 {I make a blunder under time pressure, giving away my win. b5 would’ve led to a fairly simplistic win by pushing my a pawn and guarding it with my king.} (47… b5 48. bxa5 bxa4 49. Nb4+ Kb5 50. Nc2 Kxa5 51. f4 Kb5 52. f5 Bc5 53. Kf3 Kc4) 48. Nxb4+ Kc5 49. Nd5 Kc4 50. f4 exf4 51. gxf4 gxf4 52. Kf3 Kb3 53. Kxf4 Kxa4 54. e5 Kb5 55. e6 {Another blunder. Bc5 loses while Kc5 would have given me drawing chances.} Bc5 56. e7 Bxe7 57. Nxe7 Kc5 58. Ke5 b5 59. Nd5 Kc4 60. Ke4 Kc5 61. Nc7 b4 62. Na6+ {I resign as I won’t be able to stop her from promoting her pawn and mating me.} 1-0

Overall, I was glad to have played in this tournament as it gave me a chance to meet more female chess players like me. I saw a couple familiar faces from last year’s NGTOC (as well as other tournaments) and got to know even more people this year. I’m proud of the tight knit chess community we have and that I was given the honor to contribute to that in this tournament. Tournaments like this one are really important as it encourages more girls to play chess, a currently male dominated game, and I’m honored to have played in this tournament.