Kwunnie Ng (far right) providing valuable instruction to future Grand Masters at Chess 64 in Houston.  Kwunnie Ng is a Senior Tournament Director and FIDE National Arbiter.  She is the owner of The Chess Refinery, a pending 501(c)(3) in Houston.  Photo from the Chess 64 Facebook page.
Kwunnie Ng (far right) providing valuable instruction to future Grand Masters

Having a dog named “Nimzo” says much good about the character of any chess player, especially our January Player of the Month. Before 2010, she had always thought chess was boring and took too long. Things changed when she visited a local Star-Bucks hosting a chess club with a friend. The members were friendly and invited her to sit down and try a game. They explained the rules. “En passant” was her “Ah ha” moment and she was hooked!

Soon she transitioned from casual play to a desire for a real US Chess rating. She started organizing small tournaments under the affiliate name “Chess Pistols”, and saved money with lower entrance fees. She organized events, for about a year, in libraries and coffee shops. In 2012, a friend suggested they start a new chess club together and the Chess 64 chess club was born. Under her leadership, Chess 64 became a top tier chess organization and thrived for six years. Unfortunately, rent issues caused the club to close.

Our Player of the Month was nowhere near finished. She reached out to the local chess community. In 2018, new space was acquired. Her Chess 64 affiliate was reborn as the Chess Refinery. She designed the logo to resemble an oil derrick. Her 501(c)(3) application is pending with the IRS. As Houston is an oil refining industry center, the genius intent of all this is to encourage corporate sponsorships.

The Chess Refinery grew to about 40 dues paying members. Just as with Chess 64 and under her leadership, Chess Refinery evolved into the pinnacle of Houston area chess. The club offered a full slate of tournaments in a professional setting, instruction, coaching, and casual play. A few volunteers helped, but she remained the driving force for the organization’s success.

The pandemic changed everything. In October 2020, the doors were shuttered, and everything placed in storage. In time this too shall pass, and she will, once again, lead the Chess Refinery to its former glory.

In the early days, she hated losing and worked hard to improve. Today she has a solid Class C rating and is ranked in the 93rd percentile for all USA Female players; the 92nd percentile for all Texans; and the 82nd percentile for all USA players. She has a fulltime, 8 to 5, job, and her unpaid chess endeavors are purely a labor of love. Her chess library is one of the largest in Texas, however she sheepishly admits to reading only one book cover-to-cover. This irony is understandable because Houston-area chess is so much better off with her doing exactly what she does!

Over 250 players, of all ages, ranked from Master level to Class J, have benefited from her Chess Pistol, Chess 64, and Chess Refinery events. She is a Senior Tournament Director and achieved the title of FIDE National Arbiter at the 2019 US Open. US Chess credits her with 435 tournaments as Chief TD. Many of her tournaments are held on evenings and Saturdays. She also assisted in big events, such as the 2019 Houston Open.

She is a top-notch organizer and leads by example. She teaches and coaches. She uplifts and inspires. She goes above and beyond. The icing on the cake is she is also a chess-playing dog lover. For all these reasons, we at Texas Chess Association proudly salute Kwunnie Ng as our January 2021 Player of the Month.