The 2017 National Girls Tournament of Champions was held in Norfolk, Virginia between July 29th and August 1st. There were representatives from almost every state in the United States. We all had to play 6 rounds. Simultaneously, the Denker and Barber tournaments were held in the same playing area and they too had representatives from many states.
It was an honor to participate in the event, to see excellent players, and to be a part of the process. The opening ceremony was a grand event. We were each given our state flag to hold and walk down the aisle as they called out our names and the state we represented. I felt tremendous joy and pride to represent the state of New Jersey. I had goosebumps all over when my name and state I represented were called.
After, the opening ceremony , the rounds began and the tension mounted. Everyone was putting on their “A” Game. Sometimes, the games would go on until very late in the evening, with each player trying their best to win.There were several scholarships that would be awarded to the winners, thanks to the generosity of the donors.
During the tournament, the organizers had arranged for a pizza party for the players where they could meet each other and get to know one another in a non-competitive environment. It was a welcome diversion. I got to meet some very nice people.
The tournament was an amazing event. I had a lot of fun along with the normal stress that goes with playing any tournament. Some of the kids were really nice and friendly, and we ended up chatting and playing bughouse after the tournament. There were a lot of ties towards the end of the 6 rounds. I was also tied for 3rd place with two other girls. I came in 4th on tie breaks and got $300 prize money .
The closing ceremony was very well done. The organizers and donors gave a lot of scholarships, prize money, and gift cards for bookstores to many participants. The first place winners got a $5000 scholarship. There was also a trivia contest open to the audience based on the Denker tournament and its history. Prizes were also awarded to those who got the right answers. It was a lot of fun as people were trying to answer correctly in a hurry.
It was very heartwarming and overwhelming to see so many well known chess personalities such as Mr. Jon Haskell, Mrs. and Mr. Dewain Barber , Mrs. and Mr. Richard Schiffrin, Mr. Frank Guadalupe, and others for investing so much time, money and energy in promoting and encouraging young players like me in chess. The take away from the tournament was what the organizers said about paying it forward, to go forth in life and promote chess among future players, just as they have done.
Congratulations to all the participants and winners of the NGTOC, Denker and Barber tournaments.
Thanks to Ms. Noreen Davisson, who organized the New Jersey State tournaments whose winners would represent NJ at the NGTOC, Denker, and Barber events.
Thanks to all the organizers and donors for encouraging young chess players and promoting an interest and awareness in the game.
WFM Sanjana Vittal