Archive for the ‘Women in chess’ Category

Photos from All Queens Chess Day

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Check out Jeff Smith’s gorgeous photo collection from All Queens Chess Day on October 18, 2009 at Bookmans on Speedway. You can see more of Jeff’s photos at his website Many thanks to Jeff for taking these photos and to Bookmans for sponsoring the event!

Philadelphia 9Queens Academy dates

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Alisa Melekhina plays against a girl from the first 9queens Academy of the schoolyear.

For ladies who live in Philadelphia, I am happy to announce that thanks to ASAP, the After Schools Activities Partnerships, this year’s Philadelphia 9Queens Academy program has been expanded and enhanced. Two additional sessions have been added and the initiative will include an all day end of the year tournament. Last but not least, 18-year-old Alisa Melekhina, who won a gold medal in China, has joined the teaching staff.   Our first session was on October 17, just after the US Women’s Championship concluded so we went over some basic tactics from the tournament. The remaining 9Queens Academy dates are listed below.Look for updates on this blog about the various academies and email for more information or to sign up.


Location: Story Hour Room (Children’s Department on the ground floor), Parkway Central Library 1901 Vine St. 19103
Time: 1:00pm-4:00pm (unless otherwise noted)


9 Queens Prizes at the US Women’s

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The fight for 9 Queens Best Game Prizes at the US Women’s Championship (Saint Louis, October 3-14) was fierce!  A panel of four judges, including GM Ben Finegold, IM Greg Shahade, 9 Queens instructor Amanda Mateer and Author & WIM Dr.Alexey Root, ranked their top five games. The grand prize winner was Zatonskih-Melekhina ($300), and there was a tie for 2nd ($100 each) between Baginskaite- Abrahamyan, Abrahamyan-Melekhina and Abrahamyan-Krush. You can see all the judges’ comments and play through the contending games on the Chess Life Online story.

Choosing my own picks was very tough. This tournament saw a record-breaking twenty decisive games in a row and there were so many exciting battles. I went with my gut picks as a live commentator for the event. The links below take you to the play through games on the website of the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis, where you can also see final results, photos and some videos I hosted with Macauley Peterson of the ICC.

Zatonskih-Melekhina (round six)

Zatonskih’s fiercest battle of the event. Melekhina is a great fighter, so this was a battle between two equally determined players, but Zatonskih’s careful balancing of aggression and patience set her apart. In a post-tournament interview, Zatonskih mentioned the Karpovian restrictive move a4 as her favorite move of the event.


Foisor-Goletiani  (round six)

Foisor ruthlessly exploited Goletiani’s mistakes in this game with 14.Ng5! (threatening 15.Bxf6 xf6 16.Qh7++)


After 14…g6, Foisor followed it up with 15.Bxb7 Nxb7 16.Ne4! after which she quickly gained a winning position. Very well-played.

Krush-Zatonskih (round three)

This was the most anticipated game of the tournament due to last year’s controversial Armageddon playoff and also because of Krush and Zatonskih’s close ratings. They are often only a point or two away from each other (though Zatonskih will probably lead by a nice margin after the US Women’s) 22…b5 was in my eyes the decisive move of the tournament, signifying that it might not be a battle between Zatonskih and Krush after all.


22…b5 is an anti-positional move, permanently ceding the c5 square. However, it also happens to be winning! Now Black is threatening the crushing Nb7!, when White’s queen only retreat square a3 is inadequate due to …b4. Instead Krush tried 23.Rb3 Nb7 24.Qa3 b4 25.Qa4 but fell quickly after 25…c5! (threatening …c4) 26.dxc5 Nxc5 27.Qb5 Rab8 28.Qe2 a4 and White resigned.

In this game Zatonskih chose her opening well, equalized and managed to get her tricks in early.

Krush-Baginskaite (round eight)

Krush has a take no-prisoners attitude and she is the most vocal and confident of the players in the tournament. People expect her to play well, so when she does, it doesn’t cause many shock waves. But I was surprised that this pretty game, marked by the nice 0-0, didn’t get any votes by the Best Game Judges.


Now if Baginskaite grabs the pawn 16…exf3 the simple 17.Bxf3 and the triple skewer on the a3-f8 diagonal is impossible to defend (for instance the simple 18. dxc6 is a crushing threat). If Black plays 16…cxd5 17.Nxe4! wins instantly–A pretty demonstration of a double pin.


Black played 16…Bf5 instead but got a terrible position, which Krush exploited smoothly.

Fan-Goletiani(round eight)

Part of the reason I chose this game is for its mass audience appeal. The lowest rated player in the tournament (who is also a rock star!) beats an experienced IM. This is a straightforward game you can show students as an example of both opposite side castling positions and to reinforce skewers and pins.


Here Fan played 23.Nxe4, exploiting a current pin and a potential pin. 23…Nxe4 loses to 24.Qxe7 while 23…Qxe4 loses to 24.Bd3. A few moves later, we find ourselves another instructive tactical moment.


Fan played 28.h7 Rg7 and 29.Rxg2! and now if 29…Rxg2 30.Be4 snags a full rook. Normally, Black would be able to restore material equality by connecting rooks with Rg8, but here that square is guarded by the h7 pawn.

Many other master-level games have more complex tactics that are hard to show to beginner or intermediate students. Fan-Goletiani  is a great game for 9queens Academies across the country!

9 Queens was proud to sponsor this Best Game Prize Contest. Winning beautifully is different than just winning.

Chess, crowns and cupcakes for the Queens

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Photo courtesy

Photo courtesy

Last Sunday, October 28th, Bookmans sponsored the first annual All Queens Chess Day. Held at the Bookmans on Speedway, the event consisted of two parts: a free chess tournament for women and girls, and a chess/arts and crafts workshop for everyone. Some of Tucson’s most prominent female leaders including Vice Mayor Romero, City Council Member Karin Uhlich, City Council Member Nina Trasoff, and First Lady of Tucson Beth Walkup all participated in the festivities.

All Queens Chess Day wasn’t your typical chess event; it was a celebration!  For over a year now, 9 Queens has partnered with Bookmans to host monthly free chess workshops for women and girls. We were thrilled to celebrate the one-year anniversary of our Tucson Queens Initiative with hundreds of Tucsonans. While over 20 women played in the tournament, more than 70 people learned how to play chess in our beginner workshops. Throughout the day everyone had the chance to enjoy refreshments including fruit, veggies, cake and cupcakes thanks to the generosity of Vice Mayor Regina Romero and 9 Queens Board Member Quinta Peterson.

One of my favorite parts of the event was the chess and arts and crafts workshop held in the Bookmans children’s area. Each workshop participant was given a “chess passport” with seven different stations to visit. Six of the stations were hosted by members of the Catalina Foothills team who taught participants how each of the pieces moved. However my favorite station was hosted by the Bookmans’ staff members who helped everyone make their own king or queen crown!

Many thanks to everyone who helped out including Tamara Jones, Jeff Smith, Robby Adamson, Leo Martinez, Amanda Mateer, Vice Mayor Romero, Beth Walkup, Nina Trasoff, Karin Uhlich, Quinta Peterson, Demion Clinco, Paul Gold, Eric Rice, Michelle Hotchkiss, and especially  to Bookmans for helping us change the face of chess in Tucson.

More highlights and photos to come!

All Queens on the news

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Much more to come about All Queens Chess Day but in case you missed it, check out this clip from Fox 11 News and this clip from KOLD News 13.

9 Queens: Empowerment through Chess

9 Queens is dedicated to empowering individuals and communities through chess by making the game fun, exciting, and accessible.

Player Spotlight


Varga Luna

(playing for 4 years)

“I became interested in chess when I was about four. I like chess bc you get to have fun and learn some things. You get to be more patient. You get to focus and concentrate. ”