This is an essay from Anna:
The Polgar Invitation for Girls
By: Anna Ginzburg, New York
Eleanor Roosevelt said, “You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do.” Last week, I played at the second annual Polgar Invitational for Girls. Going into the tournament I was terrified, for I knew that the competition would be very difficult. I was to be playing with state champions from across the United States. That thought alone left me very scared. Even as I boarded the plane for Phoenix I could not believe that I would be playing at such a prestigious event. When I had first heard about the Polgar Invitational a year ago, I was terribly excited because it sounded so amazing. An invitational tournament for girls, were tiaras and boas are worn!
However, as I read the rules for the event a year ago, I realized that I would have no chance of being chosen as the New York representative. Yet, I didn’t give up on my dream and tried my hardest at nationals to qualify; yet I didn’t. I remember crying on the last day of nationals as I talked to my friends and teammates. They didn’t understand why I was so upset yet I had really wanted to play at such an amazing event. Nevertheless, about two weeks later a teammate of mine told me that I was to be one of the New York representatives. When he had told me this, no words could possibly express the joy that filled my heart.
For the next few days all I could think about was that in four months I would be playing along aside state champions. For the next week, all I could do was smile. I would sit in math class watching my teacher draw geometric figures on the board yet all my thoughts were focused on the tournament.
Thus, as I walked in for my first game I was filled with anxiety, yet I knew that my strong will, and determination, would look fear in the face, and tell it to back down. My fears were proven correct as I quickly realized that this was the hardest tournament I
had ever played in. This was extremely weird for me because I had never believed girls could be such strong players. Wow did this tournament prove me wrong!
Aside from this tournament being the strongest I had ever played in, it was also the one filled with the most fun. I had left home very scared for I would only know three other girls, those girls being the other New York representative, and two girls I had played at various nationals. Contrary to my fears, I left Arizona with many new friends, friends that I talk to every night on ICC, and various instant-messaging programs. I could have never imagined that a chess tournament could help people form such close bonds. It seemed that everybody wanted to befriend you and enjoy your company. Other tournaments are never as much fun since hardly any girls, if none at all play there.
Since the boys dominate all of the events and it’s hard to have fun because there aren’t any other girls to talk to and it’s scary to talk to the guys. Thus, after you finish your game, instead of retreating to a conversation, you retreat to a far corner and the only bonding you have is with your c.d. player. Yet, here it was different. Nobody knew each other but everybody wanted to know you and was super friendly. The Polgar Invitational showed just how special of an event it was. When one looked at the Denker event it was as if the two tournaments were not being played in the same hall but rather on two different planets! The boys barely talked to each other nor did they become good friends amongst themselves.
The Polgar Invitational for Girls was a dream of mine, a dream that became a reality. What I never could have imagined was all the fun I would have there. From the new friends made, to the blitz tournament, and to the puzzle solving competition, I never could have imagined the tournament to be so fantastic. I had been invited because of my hard work, determination, and dedication. Yet, this tournament did not only serve as a chess tournament and a social scene but also as an inspiration. As a girl in chess, there are very few events that one can qualify for and that discourages many from playing. Yet, this tournament showed me that no matter what the circumstances in front of a person may be, if one works hard, and ignores the negative comments that others thrust towards them, then they will achieve success.
The Polgar Invitational was unlike any tournament I had ever played in before and I can only pray that I will the have the honor of being the New York representative again next year. The event was a major break through for women’s chess and I believe future generations should organize more women’s chess events. It may be impossible to change the world, but if we all work together, than maybe that impossible can turn into a possible.