These are the participants in the first ever Susan Polgar National Invitational for Girls in 2004

FM Paul Truong recently told the story of how the Annual Susan Polgar National Invitational for Girls, the most prestigious all-girls event in the United States, got started. Here is what he wrote:

“Dewain Barber basically started the Denker with GM Denker more than 20 years ago. During a breakfast on Monday after the big National Scholastic Event in Nashville in 2003, Dewain had breakfast with Susan and I. During this breakfast, GM Polgar asked Dewain how many girls have qualified for the Denker.

He gave some dismal numbers. Hearing this, she said she wanted to do something to help the girls with more opportunities. In addition, the USCF official asked GM Polgar to help turn around the trend of the USCF losing so many young female players. So the idea about having a similar event with girls was born. However, GM Polgar insisted on not having an age limit for the younger participants because this would not help the problem.

After the 3 of us agreed on the general ideas, we asked the (USCF) ED who was dining at another table 20 feet away. He said he would support it if GM Polgar can find the funding. She said fine. She made a personal guarantee that if she cannot raise over $6,000 to fund this event each year, she would pay for it herself.

After this, we approached Dr. Tim Redman (of UTD) who was sitting at another table not so far away about granting the same scholarship for the Polgar. He said it sounded great but he had to ask UTD. They eventually gave us 2 thumbs up and we are VERY grateful.

At the 2003 US Open in LA, we discussed this in person with GM Denker. GM Denker listened to what we had to say and he agreed. He gave us his full blessing. I am so glad he attended the Denker / Polgar event in 2003 (the first ever Polgar event) in Fort Lauderdale with GM Karpov and GM Polgar. I had him pose with the 2 WCs and all the kids.

He was always so kind to me and he gave me many wonderful advices about how to handle the US Women’s Olympiad Team and many other issues. He is one of the kindest and most generous man I know. He was also one of the most vocal supporters of the 2004 US Women’s Olympiad Training Program and Team.

The only major difference between the 2 events is the age limit. The Polgar is for any qualified player under the age of 19 and still is in HS or lower. The Denker is only for HS students.

Last year, we had the first ever case where a straight A’s student of GM Polgar (from the age of 6) won the NY State High School Championship (for boys and girls). She qualified for both Denker and Polgar and she can pick either. She chose to play in the Polgar and finished in a tie for 2nd.”

Mr. Dewain Barber added the following: “Dear Paul: I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for the accuracy of the information on the Denker…”

I would like to add another point. After the funding was guaranteed by the Susan Polgar Foundation, scholarships from UTD was secured, and approval from the USCF ED was granted, some chess politicians still went out of their ways to derail this initiative and tournament. Because of the overwhelming support from the players, parents and coaches across the country, the event finally got off the ground in 2004 and the rest is history.

Today, the enthusiasm and support for chess for girls is way up and it forever changed the dynamic of chess in this country. I expect to see many more girls in chess and the top level will continue to rise. Changes are always difficult but the end result is worth it.

That is why I am very persistent about running in the upcoming USCF election. We desparately need positive changes within the USCF. I could not do it without your support before I will need your support again this time. We need to unite for the best interest of US Chess and the USCF to end the status quo that has hindered the growth of chess in this country for years.

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