9 Queens: Empowerment through Chess

9 Queens is dedicated to empowering individuals and communities through chess by making the game fun, exciting, and accessible.


Third Annual Rodeo Daze Tournament

January 30, 2012

Join us for the Third Annual Rodeo Daze Chess Tournament at Valencia Library on February 24, 2012 at the Valencia Pima County Public Library.

Categories: Uncategorized

February Family Chess Night @ Bookman’s–Women’s World Chess Champions

January 17, 2012

Can you solve the puzzle for February? White to move and mate in three.

Win a PRIZE!  Bring your puzzle solution to Bookman’s on Speedway Family Chess Night, 6:30-8:30pm, first Wednesday of every month–this month, February 1–and win a free prize. The whole family, new and experienced players are all invited to join us to play or learn to play chess.

Women’s World Chess Champions represent the world’s largest and fastest developing countries

The New York Times recently reported that if you want to understand the world in 2012, you need to go to China and India. Not only do these countries “account for one-third of humanity and much of the world’s recent growth. They reflect some of our oldest and richest civilizations. . .” and the invention of chess. The area is the birthplace of chess and home of the current finalists of the Women’s World Chess Championship recently concluded in Albania.

Hou Yifan of China

Hou Yifan of China defeated Humpy Koneru of India (5.5 to 2.5), retaining the women’s world title. Hou Yifan, now 18, was the youngest to win the women’s championship (at age 16) and the youngest female player to qualify for the title of Grandmaster. Humpy Koneru holds a 2011 FIDE Elo rating of 2614, placing her as the number two ranked woman player, behind number one, Judit Polgar, who has never played in a Women’s World Championship. She prefers not to compete in women only events.

Humpy Koneru of India

Northwestern India (in the 6th century) is generally attributed with the birthplace of chess, although China is suggested as an alternate point of origin. That these top women chess players come from the world’s largest and fastest developing countries and where the game originated is appropriate for the emerging world order.

You can read about Hou Yifan and Humpy Koneru in the 9Queens publication Play Like a Girl, authored by 9Queens co-founder Jennifer Shahade. Proceeds from sale of the book help support 9Queens.


http://www.wwcc2011tirana.com/template.php?pag=1&t Women’s World Championship 2011



http://travel.nytimes.com/2012/01/08/travel/where-to-go-to-understand-the-world-in-2012.html China and India travel


http://www.silk-road.com/newsletter/volumeonenumberone/origin.html China as chess origin

http://www.chessgames.com/perl/chessplayer?pid=95916 Hou Yifan chess games

http://www.chessgames.com/perl/chessplayer?pid=49497 Humpy Konero chess games


Solution to January’s puzzle by Vladimir Nabokov from his book, Poems and Problems (1970):

“Key: Q-h5
1 . . .  B-e8    2 QxB mate
The best tries are b5-b6, B-c7, and Kt-e6”

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Teacher Training Workshop

January 16, 2012

Are you interested in teaching chess? Good news! You don’t need to be Bobby Fischer to be an effective chess teacher or coach. 9 Queens is offering a free training seminar for anyone interested starting a chess club, working as a chess instructor or developing chess teaching skills.

Date: January 28, 2012

Time: 10 am – 2:30 pm (30 minute lunch break)

Place: Tucson Main Library, 101 N. Stone

Topics to be covered include:

  • Planning a lesson
  • Teaching strategies for instructors with limited chess experience
  • How to keep students engaged
  • Teaching the basics of chess
  • Hands on exercises
  • Making chess fun

9 Queens is a nonprofit educational organization dedicated to extending the benefits of chess to under-served and under-represented populations.  If you would like to attend this seminar, please send an email to jhoffman@www.9queens.org. You must pre-register to attend; space is limited.

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January Family Chess Night @ Bookmans–The Poetics of Chess

December 17, 2011

January’s puzzle was created by the great novelist and poet Vladimir Nabokov. White to move and mate in two.

Bring your puzzle solution to Bookman’s on Speedway Family Chess Night, 6:30-8:30pm, first Wednesday of every month–in January, Wednesday the 4th–and win a free prize. The whole family, new and experienced players are all invited to join us to play or learn to play chess.

The Poetics of Chess

Poetry and chess teamed up at a recent Tucson event held on the lawn of the Himmel Park Library. The Emily Dickinson Tribute Chess Tournament attracted chess enthusiasts of all ages and skill levels for a three round chess tournament, gourmet lunch and reading of Emily Dickinson poems. The event was co-sponsored by Kore Press Big Read Project, 9Queens and the Tucson Public Library.

Two Emily Dickinson poems read at the chess tournament addressed mental focus:

I felt a cleavage in my mind
As if my brain had split;
I tried to match it, seam by seam,
But could not make them fit.

The thought behind I strove to join
Unto the throught before,
But sequence raveled out of reach
Like balls upon a floor.


The brain within its groove
Runs evenly and true;
But let a splinter swerve,
‘Twere easier for you
To put the water back
When floods have slit the hills,
And scooped a turnpike for themselves,
And blotted out the mills!


Poetics and chess cross at many junctures. Beauty, structure, precision, concentration and seeking the essential purity of a form are not all that the subjects share. The language used to describe chess concepts and play often wax poetic.

In the recent HBO documentary Bobby Fischer Against the World, Dr. Anthony Saidy speaking of Game 6 of the 1972 World Championship match between Fischer and Boris Spassky, describes the game as a “symphony of placid beauty.” Fischer’s triumph over Spassky was “a beautiful game. . .a model of precision,” says former US Chess Champion Larry Evans. About Fischer, Boris Spassky told the press, “Fischer is a man of art.”

Saidy writes in his book The World of Chess (co-authored with Norman Lessing) that, “A most felicitous definition of chess–from the Great Soviet Encyclopedia is: ‘an art appearing in the form of a game.’ For indeed, the element of beauty is its most captivating quality.” The poetics of chess explores beauty.

In the book Bobby Fischer Goes to War, the authors David Edmonds and John Eidinow write–“Genius in chess is a magical fusion of logic and art–an innate recognition of pattern, an instinct for space, a talent for order and harmony, all mixed with creativity to fashion surprising and hitherto new formations.” This is an apropos description of poetry.

The great conceptional artist and chess master Marcel Duchamp proclaimed, “Chess has the visual possibilities of art. It is a mechanistic sculpture that presents exciting plastic values. . . .The transformation of the visual aspect to the grey matter is what always happens in chess and what should happen in art.” As Duchamp more famously stated, “From my close contact with artists and chess players I have come to the personal conclusion that while all artists are not chess players, all chess players are artists.”

More about the beauty and art of chess in puzzles to come.


Bobby Fischer Goes to War, David Edmonds and John Eidinow, Harper Collins, New York, 2004

Marcel Duchamp: The Art of Chess, Francis M. Nauman, Bradley Bailey, Jennifer Shahade, Readymade Press, New York, 2009

The World of Chess, Anthony Saidy and Norman Lessing, Random House, New York, 1974




Solution to last month’s puzzle taken from a game with Judit Polgar vs Xie Jun, Amber Rapid Monte Carlo 1996:  1.Bh7+. . .Kxh7  2.Qxf7+. . .Bg7   3.Qxg7#

Categories: Chess Event / Events

December Family Chess Night @ Bookman’s features Judit Polgár

November 12, 2011

December’s puzzle is taken from a game won by Judit Polgár. White to move and mate in three moves.

Bring your puzzle solution to Bookman’s on Speedway Family Chess Night, 6:30-8:30pm, first Wednesday of every month–in December, Wednesday the 7th–and win a free prize.

The whole family, new and experienced players are all invited to join us to play chess.

Judit Polgár: World’s Greatest Female Chess Player

Judit Polgár was born in 1976, Budapest, Hungary. Her father trained Judit and her sisters, Susan and Sofia, to be chess prodigies. Laszlo Polgár’s belief that “geniuses are made, not born” was tested and proven by his daughters, two chess grandmasters and one international master.

Judit Polgár 2008

Judit became grandmaster in 1991 at the age of 15, beating Bobby Fischer’s record by a month. She is the only woman to enter the World’s Top Ten Chess Players. She has defeated nine Men’s World Champions. Polgár seldom plays in women-only chess events. “I always say that women should have the self-confidence that they are as good as male players,” she said.

Former world champion Garry Kasparov has written, “if to ‘play like a girl’ meant anything in chess, it would mean relentless aggression.” Judit’s style promotes aggressive openings and play. She excels in tactics by maximizing the initiative and developing complication.

Former US Champion Joel Benjamin describing Polgár–“it was all-out war for five hours. I was totally exhausted. She is a tiger at the chess board. She absolutely has a killer instinct. You make one mistake and she goes right for the throat.”

The debate over female chess capability may continue but Polgár’s aggressive style and accomplishments disprove the argument that in chess, women lack the patricidal urge.

Putting the title “strongest woman player ever in chess” to test, Polgár, as a mother of two, has said, that a chess tournament now “feels like a vacation.”

More about great chess moms in puzzles to come.



Photo credit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Judit_Polgar.jpg


November’s Bobby Fischer puzzle solution

1. Rxf8+  Kxf8  2. Qd8+  Ne8  3. Qe7+ (or Be7+)  Kg8 4. Qxe8#

Categories: Chess Event / Events / Women in chess