Chess for fun and (a college) education

by ChessBase
8/28/2005 – Imagine a chess tournament where the first three players win full tuition to the University of Texas in Dallas, and a total of $155,000 is available in prizes, stipends and scholarships. Sound fair? Well, eat your hearts out, men, this one was only for girls under 19. Welcome to the Susan Polgar National Invitational.

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The Susan Polgar National Invitational

The second annual Susan Polgar National Invitational for Girls (under 19) was held on August 7–12 alongside with the 2005 US Open in Phoenix, Arizona this year. This is the most prestigious girl’s event in the United States. In order to participate in the championship, a player must be nominated by her own state. Each state creates its own criteria to select its best player.

The National Invitational for girls under 19 under way in Phoenix

Approximately 3,000 girls participated in regional and state qualifying events in the last 12 months to earn the right to represent their states. A record 48 girls (four of them as young as 11 years old) represented their respective states in this championship.

Abby Marshall of Ohio

At the conclusion of the tournament, three players tied for first with the score of 5-1 (4 wins and 2 draws). WGM Anya Corke (CA), WFM Alisa Melekhina (PA) and Abby Marshall (OH) were declared co-champions. They were also the top three seeds of the tournament.

Alisa Melekhina of Pennsylvania

Anya Corke was born in California and currently resides in Hong Kong. She won the Hong Kong National Championship a few years ago, and earned her WGM title with an incredible performance in the 2004 Olympiad in Calvia, playing for the Hong Kong men’s team. Even though she is a very experience international player, she made a personal request to play in the tournament and she received a special invitation from Susan Polgar herself.

Anya Corke of California, resident in Hong Kong

Each co-champion was awarded a full tuition and fees scholarship (value more than $40,000 each) to the University of Texas in Dallas, presented by Dr. Tim Redman (UTD).

Susan Polgar (2nd from left) with the winners Alisa Melekhina, Anya Corke and Abby Marshall

Louiza Livschitz (CA), Amanda Mateer (AZ), Emily Lau (HI) and Anjali Datta (TX) were tied for 4th through 7th place with the score of 4.5-1.5.

Anjali Datta of Texas

In addition to the main event, the players also competed in the Blitz and Puzzle Solving Championships. In the Blitz Championship, Abby Marshall (OH) scored a perfect 6-0 to win clear first. Anjali Datta (TX) and Elisha Garg (CA) tied for 2–3 with the score of 5-1.

Elisha Garg of California

In the Puzzle Solving Championship, WFM Alisa Melekhina (PA) correctly solved 9/10 puzzles to win clear first. Abby Marshall (OH) and Alexandra Wiener (CT) both scored 8/10 puzzles correctly. However, Abby Marshall got second place for faster time.

Alexandra Wiener of Connecticut

A record $155,000 in prizes, stipends and scholarships were awarded to the 48 young ladies! The third annual Susan Polgar National Invitational for Girls will be held in Chicago, IL on August 6-11, 2006. The event was sponsored by:

The Susan Polgar Foundation (, UTD (University of Texas in Dallas), US Chess Trust, Excalibur Electronics and the World Chess Hall of Fame, Everyman Chess, International Chess Marketing, Chess4Less, Polgar Chess (, American Chess Equipment, Frank Berry, ChessOnDVD, and the USCF, etc.

Susan Polgar with the girls from her National Invitational

Susan at a nearby US park

In front of one of the most famous landscapes in the world

Sedona in northern Arizona, with its stunning array of red sandstone formations.

A church built on the red rocks of Sedona

In addition, to boost the popularity of chess among girls in the United States, the Susan Polgar Foundation will organize two major additional girls event in 2006: The Susan Polgar National Open Championship for Girls (under 21) will be held in Corpus Christi, Texas (January 27-29, 2006) and the Susan Polgar World Open Championship for Girls (under 21) will be held in Las Vegas (August 16-18, 2006).

Information and photos provided by Paul Truong

Reports about chess: tournaments, championships, portraits, interviews, World Championships, product launches and more.


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