Tuesday, August 12, 2008
Edgefield student travels to Texas for chess tournament
Tuesday, August 12, 2008 12:33 AM EDT
EDGEFIELD -- Hannah “Tori” Whatley didn’t win a recent chess tournament for girls, but she certainly left as a champion.
The South Carolina flag flew for the first time in the five-year history of the Susan Polgar National Invitational for Girls, which occurred July 27 through Aug. 1 at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas.
Whatley joined the company of state champions from across the nation, competing in a tournament that eventually awarded a full, four-year $75,000 scholarship to the top player.
Whatley, a 12-year-old middle school student, moved from 51st to 38th in the competition, creating friendships along the way. This was evident during her first match, against Oklahoma’s Michelle Farell, a player rated at more than twice Whatley’s strength. Farell said Whatley was a far better opponent than she had anticipated.
After the Oklahoman took the game, the two girls joined as partners in the extracurricular “bughouse” chess tournament.
As Whatley took on opponent after opponent, South Carolina Chess Association president David Grimaud and his wife, Maureen, were able to witness their state representative’s final two winning rounds.
“Tori was a perfect representative for us,” Grimaud said. “We look forward to her leadership as a role model to help promote scholastic girls chess in South Carolina.”
When asked how it felt to sit in a room full of state champions, Whatley said, “I didn’t really see them as champions. I just saw them as new friends.”