Pink and puzzles at Philly’s first Queens Academy of 09

January 22, 2009

On January 10, 30 students came to the first Philadelphia 9Queens Academy of 2009, co-sponsored by ASAP (After Schools Activity Partnerships) and hosted at the Independence Branch Library in Center City. We split up into three groups, with Windsor Jordan and Justin Ennis of ASAP teaching beginners and me and Leteef Street showing a more advanced group puzzles from games of top women players. I also included positions from games of the bronze medalist U.S. Women’s Olympic team, like the following two by first board IM Irina Krush and WGM Katerina Rohonyan. They are very different situations, but have similar solutions. When teaching the importance of bringing all the pieces to attack in positions like the following, I use the catchy maxim, "Invite everyone to the party." Another specific mnemonic I use is "Rover." Try to find the best move in the positions below and you’ll probably figure out what rover means.






In the first diagram, Irina played Rh3! (Rh5 is also good), a key manuever to bring another powerful piece into the attack. The game continued 16… Rf6 17.Rhd1 f4 18.g4 fxg3 19.Rxg3 Rg6 20.Bd3 Rxg3 21.fxg3. Black’s kingside is totally naked, and White won in a few more moves. The second diagram is from a game of WGM Katerina Rohonyan from the Dresden Olympiad. Black had actually already resigned, anticipating her fate after Rf1! with double mate threats, Qd6+ Ke3 Qf4+ Ke2 Qf3 and Rf4 Ke5 Re4 and so on. This is a very pure demonstration of how introducing an extra piece can change a position that is no better than a perpetual (if White tries Qd6+ Ke3 etc) into a clear win. According to Rohonyan, this win inspired her for the rest of the event. The 4-0 rout over Romania of which it was a part of certainly inspired the rest of the team. Check out U.S. Teams Celebrate Bronze Medals for more on American triumph in Dresden. 

The crowning position of this month’s Philly Queens’ Academy was a puzzle featuring World Women’s Champion Alexandra Kosteniuk. This puzzle had the distinction of being set up on a pink and white board, which was designed by with events like this in mind. I tried not to make a big deal out of the set being "pink" as I knew the girls might find it corny or condescending if I went into a big pink is for girls spiel. My soft sell worked as the girls gravitated to the puzzle and the pieces.  Instead of playing with black pieces, we should be able to pick our favorite color, whether it be blue (I love this one!), pink or orange.  If we’re willing to pay more for pink boxing gloves and turqouise ipods (OK, at least I am) than maybe at the amateur level, playing as your favorite color is worth a move. This would also lessen the "I’m playing Black again?" grumbles.


I realized that the following puzzle was a bit on the hard side for the class. I wanted to include a fragment from the 2008 Women’s World Championship final between 14-year-old Chinese Grandmaster Hou Yifan and Grandmaster Alexandra Kosteniuk and I couldn’t find too many "easy" tactical puzzles from it. I was able to work the girls through the position, and one of them solved it!  

In this game, the first of the four-game match, Kosteniuk found 1…Nxf3! with the idea 2.Qxf3 Bxg4! and Qxg4 loses to Qxg4 Nxg4 d1=Q while Nxg4 loses similarly, to Qxf3+ Kxf3 d1=Q. After this, Alexandra Kosteniuk drew the next three games to finish the match 2.5-1.5 and claim the 12th Women’s World Championship. Along the way, she found time to give a shout out to 9queens!

The number of instructors this time was great as most of the girls got personalized instruction. If you didn’t make it this time, be sure to mark your calenders for Saturday February 28 when the Queens Academy (and me, Windsor, Leteef and Justin) will return to the Independence Branch Library to instill even greater chess skills into Philly’s girls and women. Contact for more details.




Categories: Events / Women in chess

One Response

  1. Gina says:

    Do you teach adults as well as children?

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