Elina Kats was the first ever member of the Polgar Chess Center in Forest Hills, NY in 1997, when she was barely 6 years old. Her Grandfather helped me open my Chess Center. She did not even know how to play chess, and was my student in my first ever class in a brand new chess club at that time. She is like a daughter I never had.
I continued to work with her over the years. In 2006, Elina became the first girl to win the New York State High School Championship, a very strong event, ahead of all the boys! She was one of a very few girls in a section that is dominated by the opposite gender. That made it even more special!
By winning this tournament, she earned the right to represent the state of New York in the 2006 Denker Tournament of High School Champions and the Susan Polgar National Invitational for Girls. She was the first female player in the country to earn the honor of qualifying for both events.
After this big win, she won the USCF All-Girls National with a perfect 6-0 score, then followed it up with a 2nd place finish at the 2006 Susan Polgar National Invitational for Girls, the most prestigious all-girls event in the United States! After that, she gave up chess and shifted her focus to her study.
FYI: Elina’s all-time record against Fabiano Caruana at the Polgar Chess Center is 4-0!!
Being raised by an incredibly devoted Mom, with the help from her Mom’s parents (from Uzbekistan), she finished four years of college with top notch grades. Through all the hard work and sacrifices from her and her family, it paid off big. She was then accepted to Harvard Law School! This is an American Dream came true for a family that came to the United States with nothing. They did not even speak English, including Elina.
She is now a lawyer working in New York. But today is her most special day! It is her wedding day! Congratulations Elina!