All photos courtesy Jeff Smith www.jeffsmithusa.com
On Sunday, December 20, 9 Queens was thrilled to host reigning Women’s World Chess Champion Alexandra Kosteniuk at our December Queens Academy. Grandmaster Kosteniuk selected 9 Queens as the only chess program in the country to honor as part of her holiday goodwill tour. After flying to Tucson on an early morning flight from Miami, Ms. Kosteniuk answered questions, signed autographs and gave a free simultaneous chess exhibit for 34 lucky chess enthusiasts. The event attracted close to 200 Tucsonans of all ages to meet the chess champion and celebrate empowerment through chess. The simul lasted 2 and a half hours; although Alexandra didn’t lose a single game, four talented participants were able to draw the World Champion (visit Alexandra’s blog post to see her take on a game with Bryan Hu or Chess Life Online for another game with Ann Price).
Organized in less than week, the event was a huge success thanks to all the tremendous support from local businesses, volunteers and sponsors. First and foremost,we are incredibly grateful to Alexandra, the brainchild of this amazing and innovative charitable act. Given how stressful the holidays are in general, it was inspiring to witness someone dedicate so much of their time towards promoting chess. Special thanks to our sponsors including Alan Anderson of Checkm8Chess and Dr. Norm Saba for generously paying for Alexandra’s airfare, the Arizona Inn for donated her hotel room, Maynard’s Market for the gift basket, Bline Restaurant for the delicious cupcakes, and Cafe A La Cart for the ever popular mushroom pizza. We also want to thank BPM Solutions, Trisa and Andy Schorr, Paul Gold and Sam Ireland for helping underwrite all additional costs.
I also want to personally thank all the 9 Queens board members and volunteers for all the hours spent planning for the event including: Lorelei Francis-Anderson, Leo Martinez, Jeff Smith (our talented 9 Queens photographer responsible for beautiful images from the event), David Correa, Minette Burges, Vicki Lazaro (who designed all of the placards and posters on a short timeline), Ann Price, Sean Higgins, Vaishnav Arudyhula, Amanda Mateer (who came down on her birthday!), Jenelle Wallace, Quinta Peterson, Tom Michaud, Michelle Hotchkiss, Margo Burwell, James Grip, Eli Alster, Jacqui De Sa, Sam Hoffman, Bitty Rosenberg, Rick Hoffman and Christopher Rosenberg.