A local teen’s chess skills landed her the opportunity to keep time during an international tournament and face off with a Grandmaster.
Tori Whatley was invited to make the ceremonial first move in Game 1 between chess Grandmaster Gregory Kaidanov and Hungarian Grandmaster Judit Polgar. The two squared off in a Sicilian-themed match on Hilton Head Island in late February.
Only seven spectators were invited to witness the match held in the Hilton Marriott Spa and Resort and hosted by Jeff Smith, a business consultant. Both Whatley and her father, David Whatley, the Merriwether Mavericks Chess Club coach, were present for the occasion. The match was broadcast worldwide via the Internet and was watched by thousands.
David handled the time controls for the four games of the main event. After a 2-2 tie was reached, Tori managed the time controls for the two blitz playoff games and the final Armageddon game. Kaidanov claimed rounds one and three while Polgar took rounds two and four and won the tournament.
“Tori and I are so grateful to Mr. Smith for allowing us to participate in this world-class matchup. The games were entertaining, instructional and inspiring,” David said.
As a result of the intimate setting, both players were very accessible to the Whatleys for autographs, pictures and even dining together. According to the Whatleys, they even played a few casual games with those on hand. Tori played Kaidanov.
“That was the most fun I’ve ever had losing,” said Tori of the experience.
At the end of the day, Smith gave Tori several gifts including the game clock used in rounds one and four, which she has shared with the Merriwether Mavericks Chess Club.
Tori and her father befriended Smith two years ago when Tori earned the privilege of representing South Carolina in the Susan Polgar National Invitational tournament held in Texas.
For more information on becoming a member of the chess club, e-mail email@example.com.