Monday, August 30, 2010

SPGI Article by Bethany Carson

2010 Susan Polgar Girls Invitational
By Bethany G. Carson

Hello everyone! I had a wonderful time at the Susan Polgar Girls Invitational at Texas Tech. We had four and a half days of training from Susan Polgar and Paul Truong, and one and a half days of tournament play. What impressed me most about Susan Polgar was the sincere care, love, and gentle strictness which she displayed toward her class.

We had a great educational trip (or was it a tour of the mid-west?). We left for Texas on July 20th. We took a jog north to visit the Ice Cream Capital of the World in Le Mars, Iowa. Then, since neither Daniel, nor Charity, nor I had ever been to South Dakota, we crossed the border into that state. After about 20 miles we reached Nebraska. We spent that night at a Lewis and Clark campground on the banks of the Missouri.

The next day, we headed west! Our itinerary stated that we should visit the Nebraska capitol building in Lincoln. It was very impressive, and we looked over the city of Lincoln from the 14th floor. It was quite an interesting structure to visit.

We continued south, and finally crossed into Kansas. We visited an original Pony Express Station, now a museum, before heading to Glen Elder State Park. After a refreshing time swimming and wading in Waconda Lake, we ate dinner, and slept. We left early the next morning and saw the largest ball of sisal twine (in Cawker City). Then we visited an oil well drilling company in Hays. Our entertainment director (Charity) did a great job. Pretty soon we were at the World's Largest Hand Dug Well, in Greenfield, KS.

Next, we stopped at Clark State Fishing Lake, ate dinner, took a walk, and then decided to explore! Papa started the pickup and we headed around the lake. We saw beautiful cliffs, drove up and down steep hills in the truck's lowest gear, saw a rattlesnake, and finally arrived at the other side of the lake. Clark Lake is very beautiful, and it was a wonderful place to spend my birthday. I am so thankful to Jesus Christ for his grace which has seen me through these years (and miles).

The next morning we visited St. Jacob's well, and saw the buffalo which roam around it. We reached Oklahoma and ate lunch at a cafe in Gate, Oklahoma. There we enjoyed 3 hamburgers, a grilled cheese sandwich, 3 soda pops, and glass of water for about $27! I was surprised at how quickly the panhandle of Oklahoma can be driven through. We soon saw the Texas state line.

We arrived in Lubbock the next morning, and after some wandering, found the English building (where the opening ceremony was to be held), the impressive Texas Tech library (where we spent much of our free time), and the dining hall (where we enjoyed excellent service and a very good selection of foods on the lunch buffet the whole time we were at the SPGI). We spent the night at a very pleasant campground in Littlefield, Texas.

On the morning of July 25th, we left Littlefield, and spent time at the Texas Tech library. I am almost tempted to say that the library has more computers than it does books, but that is because I only visited the 1st floor. Many students study there, but we were mainly interested in chatting with my youngest sister and Mama, who were at home. We also played chess online, scheduled and played team league games, emailed friends, and watched movies.

We arrived at the opening ceremony early, but soon the other 41 girls and Susan Polgar entered the room. All of us girls were called to the first four rows, while parents, siblings, and coaches were permitted to watch from the other rows. My family and I are very thankful that Charity, my sister, was permitted to join the class as a special guest. We enjoyed the lesson about 10 Critical Rules of Chess, taught by Susan Polgar and Paul Truong.

Monday, we were divided into two classes according to rating. Classes were from 9:00-12:00 and from 1:30-4:30. My sister and I were in Paul Truong's class. He is a very good teacher, and I took a lot of notes and enjoyed the class. We participated in the puzzle solving championships. Charity and I each got 6 out of 10 correct. At 6:00 we played bughouse. My sister and I chose to be partners, and our team was the Carson Sisters. There were 5 rounds, and we scored 3 points. We played more bughouse with friends. Soon I had to hurry back to the Texas Tech library for my team league game which was scheduled for 8:00 p.m. I tried to use the information I had learned, and I didn't lose. However, probably due to my insufficient endgame knowledge, I drew. The game lasted just short of 3 hours, and we finally reached our campground at about midnight.

The next morning we had classes with Susan Polgar from 9:00-12:00 and from 1:30-4:30. I enjoyed Susan Polgar's class (and yes, I took a lot of notes). IM Gergely Antal stopped by to say hello to everyone, as he just finished his last exam at Texas Tech.

Wednesday we had a very good class with Susan Polgar from 10:00-12:00, and then a class with Paul Truong from 1:30-4:30. Some of the girls in our class were determined that somehow they could beat NM Paul Truong. So, Mr. Truong gave each girl who wished to play him 5 minutes on her clock, and gave himself 1 minute. He beat each one. While I waited, I exchanged math problems with Tori Whatley of South Carolina, and Charity and Rebecca Deland of New Mexico studied a game they had just finished. I was delighted when the time came to return to studying. That evening, the blitz championships were held. It was fun and a great warm-up for the G-30 tourney; Charity and I both finished 3.5 out of a possible 6.

Thursday we had a question and answer class before going outside to have pictures taken with Susan Polgar and the Masked Rider of Texas Tech. After lunch and a short opening ceremony, round 1 of the tournament started. Just as in the blitz tournament, I found myself facing Rebecca Lelko on board 2. We had an interesting game which ended in a draw. I played Mandy Lu in round 2. Although I reached the endgame in a drawn position, insufficient endgame knowledge again became my nemesis and resulted in a loss. I won my round 3 match against Mina Wang. After each round, Paul Truong or Susan Polgar gave me advice, showing Rebecca Lelko and I the critical position in our game, and telling Papa and me that I must study endgames. (I'm now reading Silman's Complete Endgame Course which they recommended--the most interesting chess book I've ever read.)

Friday was the final day of the tournament. I won my first two games and lost my third. Charity, however, who had gained only one point the day before, scored several upsets, and won every game. She finished the tournament a half point ahead of me and gained nearly 300 rating points. After the tournament there was an hour of spare time before the closing ceremony. Upon encouragement from classmates and permission from Paul Truong, Charity and I tuned our guitars and her violin and played a few songs for our classmates, Susan Polgar, and Paul Truong. The closing ceremony came all too soon after this wonderful week. Congratulations to Anu Bayar who won the event (puzzle solving, blitz, and G-30), and to Rebecca Lelko who won the G-30 tournament. Charity finished in 13th place, and I finished in 16th place. We bade farewell to our new friends and left for Iowa, arriving home after a safe trip during the early hours of August 1st. "Amazing grace...shall lead me home."

Thank you very much to Susan Polgar and Paul Truong for holding this event. I hope this tradition will continue for many years to come.
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