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All-Girls


Fighting Spirit


11-year-old Anupama Rajendra is the youngest player in the tournament’s nine years to win the 18 and younger section.


By Jamaal Abdul-Alim The first time I went to the All-Girls


National Chess Championships in Chicago, which was back in 2011, I pretty much took the organizers’ word when they told me the strength of the tournament play- ers had increased from the previous year. But when I went to the All-Girls this


past April, I didn’t bother asking if the players were getting stronger. That’s because this time I decided to see


for myself. My quest took me to a makeshift control


room for tournament directors (TDs) in the ballroom level of the opulent Swisso- tel in downtown Chicago. At a computer near a series of printers


sat Eric Heiser, son of David Heiser, who is co-founder and president of the Renais- sance Knights Chess Foundation, which organized the event. At the behest of his father, the younger


Heiser did this chess journalist a big favor: Using players lists from 2011 and 2012 that were stored in Excel spreadsheets, he calculated the average strength of the play- ers in each section for both last year and this year so that I could compare the two. For convenience he omitted unrated


players from the equation, then added up the ratings of all the players in each section, then divided those totals by the number of


28 Chess Life — July 2012


players in each respective section. Of course, I could have done this on my


own using the USCF website, but it would be far more labor intensive than how Heiser let the Excel spreadsheets do the math for us. In any event, what we discovered was


rather illuminating—from 2011 to 2012, the strength of the players in each section had gone up significantly in all but the 10 and Under section, which arguably went down only because it drew a dozen more players—many perhaps new to the game —than last year. Overall, the average rating strength of


the players in the All-Girls tournament itself had increased from 995 in 2011 to 1010 in 2012. Of course, this average strength reflects a wide variety of players, from age five to age 18. Since attendance this year was higher


than last year—238 in 2012 versus 224 in 2011—I can comfortably say that the All-Girls National Chess Championships not only grew a little bigger in 2012, but it also got better. Specifically, based on the spreadsheet


tabulations provided by Heiser, from 2011 to 2012, the average rating in the various sections at the All-Girls changed as listed below.


18 and younger: 1535 to 1567 16 and younger: 1293 to 1373 14 and younger: 1121 to 1447 12 and younger: 990 to 1034 10 and younger: 939 to 853 8 and younger: 591 to 694. Before I tell you the official take on the


rating strength increases, you should know a little bit about the selfish reason that led me seek this analysis in the first place. Since this year was the first time that


my daughter—Hadiyah, age 10—com- peted in the All-Girls, I wanted to give her a sense as to what she would be up against in the 10 and Under Section. So I used last year’s player list on the


USCF website to calculate the average strength of the players in her section last year. It was a labor-intensive exercise—


hardly as easy as it would have been with Excel—and I came up with 933, which is why I pretty much trust the 939 figure that Heiser reached. Since my daughter has beaten me on occasion, and my rating has been above 1300 all year, I told her that she had a decent chance of beating many, if not, most of the players she encountered in her section. But ultimately this information didn’t help. No matter how much you know


uschess.org


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