Impressions of the Polgar from Maine's Representative

07.23.14 Bethany Humphrey represented the state of Maine at the Polgar National Invitational for Girls played earlier this month at Webster University in St. Louis. Bethany is back from the tournament and has filed this report of her experiences including one of her games.

Bethany Humphrey (foreground second from left) plays in the Susan Polgar Foundation Girls' Invitational tournament in St. Louis.

Fifty-six players, ranging in rating from 700 to 2200, attended the Susan Polgar Foundation Girls' Invitational tournament in St Louis, Missouri. Based on my pre-tournament rating of 1124, I was initially placed at 47th, in the lower half of the pack. In light of this, I was pleased to discover that I could hold my own against some significantly higher-rated players (1400-1600) and finish out the tournament in 31st.

The actual competition itself consisted of 6 rounds, G/90 + 30, in which I pulled off four draws, one win, and one loss. However, the rounds themselves did not begin until the third day. The first two days were spent training with Susan Polgar, touring the city of St. Louis, and competing in the Puzzle Solving, Bughouse, and Blitz championships.
In the Puzzle Solving championship, we were all given 30 minutes to solve 20 puzzles: checkmate in 1, 2, 3, or 4 moves. Scores were based on who solved the most puzzles correctly in the shortest amount of time. We all showed a diverse array of talents: the numbers correct ranged from 2 to 19.

My personal weakness at Blitz (10-minute), combined with the late 8-10pm tournament time, led to a fairly low standing for me. I won 4/10 of the 10-minute matches, and placed 36th.

The Bughouse championship was, by far, the most interesting of the three championships. Teams were allowed to speak in any language they wished, so there was the added twist of not knowing what your opponents were saying! My partner and I competed against girls who spoke solely in Spanish, Farsi, and Mandarin. As to be expected with bughouse, the event was hectic, confusing, and a lot of fun.

This tournament was my first national individual event. I've attended several national championships with the Deer Isle Stonington chess teams, but have never competed on my own. It was interesting to note the difference in atmosphere. I like the feeling of unity and purpose that comes with competing for a team. However, the Polgar was nice because all of us girls were not confined to teams or groups, but got the chance to get out and know each other. I met people from many different states: I had a bughouse partner from New Mexico, and played against girls from Nevada, Missouri, Michigan, Texas, and a few other states. In addition to the representatives from the 50 United States, there were competitors from Canada, Mexico, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Latvia, Brazil, and Iran. There was an amazing diversity of culture and background.

Overall, the Polgar was a wonderful experience. It was a great opportunity to meet and learn from Susan Polgar herself; it was amazing to meet so many talented young girls.

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