Tuesday, September 5, 2017

North American Junior Girls U20 Champion!

Naomi wins first place, gets Woman International Master title + Woman Grandmaster norm (⅓ title)!
Naomi's newly won title "Woman International Master" (WIM) sounds almost like "International Adventuress".  

This is much cooler than Naomi's prior nerdy-sounding title "Woman FIDE Master" (WFM), not to mention her prior-prior juvenile-sounding title "Woman Candidate Master" (WCM).

And, crucially, she got a "norm" (i.e. ⅓ of the title) towards Woman Grandmaster (WGM).  Oh dear.

The 2017 North American Junior U20 Chess Championship took place on August 31 - September 5 in Sheraton Dallas-Fort Worth Airport Hotel in Texas.  No international travel for this international tournament.

North American players born on or after January 1st, 1997 played 9 rounds, using the Swiss pairing system in the Open and Girls Divisions.  Naomi got 8 points out of 9, with just 2 draws.  Good job.

The winners of the Open and Girls Divisions earned the titles of International Master (IM) and WIM, and also scored a "norm" (i.e. ⅓ of the title) towards Grand Master (GM) and Woman Grandmaster (WGM).  Good deal.

The organizer, International Arbiter (IA) Francisco Guadalupe, has worked miracles to resolve all problems and successfully keep the promise of this tournament, with complete dedication and exemplary results.  Coming from hurricane-devastated Houston, he made sure that everything worked here in Dallas.

Francisco, Naomi, Luda


North American Junior Girls trophy-winners: Naomi, Ramya, Sanjana, Shree


All those under-20 girls look so lovely and kind at these photos of pre-game handshake.  It's scary to think they will try to outplay, outfox and utterly destroy each other just seconds later.  Enjoy the photo album:



With Sanjana Vittal

With Camile Kao


With Bethany Plew

Hard won respite


2017-09-08_Naomi_NA_JG_U20_CC_WIM,_norm_WG_flash_1[1].jpg

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Seattle Chess Classic

In Solar Eclipse Shadow
Seattle Chess Classic is a new great local tournament.  It's a tough and crowded battle, where adults fight kids and whine like babies.

Naomi withstands 5 days, 9 rounds, of strong opponents, summer heat, stuffy basements, intense games, to emerge with 6 points (5 wins, 2 draws, 2 losses), share 3+ place, and get a $812.50 prize check!

That's about 2 days of Harvard tuition... but you have to start somewhere.  At least the prize pays for the gas of 5 days of 6 daily drives, 40 minutes each (the parents time comes free of charge, as always).

Just look at these happy exhausted chess addicts: Seattle Chess Classic photo album.




And Roland Feng took first place, as expected:



All the players look great!



The event has been followed by the Great American Solar Eclipse next day.  Epic!!!  See the photos.





Friday, July 28, 2017

National Girls Tournament of Champions

Girls Battle in Navy Town
The 2017 US Chess National Girls Tournament of Champions is held on July 29-31 at the Sheraton Waterside Hotel in a historic Navy town of Norfolk, Virginia, coinciding with the Denker and Barber tournaments.

Each US state sends one female player in grades K-12.  Naomi is the Washington State representative.  The weather is hot and humid.  The battle is tough in the Navy town.

Out of the 50 state representatives, Naomi takes 9th place in Individual Standings, with 4 wins and 2 losses.  

Jason Yu shares 3rd place in the Barber tournament.  Bryce Tiglon becomes a co-champion in the Denker High School tournament.

The team of all three Washington State representatives (Girls+Denker+Barber) takes 2nd place in State Team Standings.  Not bad at all.

Bryce, Naomi, Jason (photo by Jenny Cui)

Norfolk is a great place to visit.  Take a look at the photos:














Friday, July 14, 2017

North American Youth Chess Championship

Historic Morristown
From the Pan-American Youth Chess Championship in Costa Rica on July 1-7, after spending a few additional days there, we fly directly to the North American Youth Chess Championship in Morristown, NJ on July 12-16.

Naomi (14) plays in the Girls Under 18 category, and gets 4.5 points in 9 rounds, taking 7th place.  That's a good result considering she plays 4 years up.

Morristown is a historic place.  For two critical winters of the American Revolution, 1777 and 1779-80, General George Washington chose this area as the Continental Army's winter encampment. Because of its strategic location, the area continually served as the military capital throughout the war. During the 1779-1780 Jockey Hollow encampment, over 10,000 soldiers endured the war's most severe winter.

See the photo albums:


Saturday, July 1, 2017

Pan-American Youth Chess Championship

The Volcano Erupts
The Pan-American Youth Chess Championship (June 30 - July 7) is held in San José, Costa Rica.  

Naomi (14) plays 4 years up, in the 18-year-old girls category.  She's thrown into the lion's den.  There will be blood. Follow the results here: http://www.chess-results.com/tnr290236.aspx?lan=1&art=4&flag=30&wi=821

Here are the first day photos and videos: https://goo.gl/photos/VfXv6nKtKJaEjafH8

First day album, by Luda B.

Check out the fantastic opening ceremony dances: https://goo.gl/photos/qWGVrwd7VwLs5w2t7

Hot Costa Rican folk dance video



Luda and Naomi, by Sofia Petrov

July 1, evening Round 1: Naomi wins against Woman Candidate Master (WCM) Valeria Marin-Leon from Costa Rica, see the webcast video: https://goo.gl/photos/VoHZXh9GzKKDkYxb7

July 2, morning Round 2: Naomi wins against WCM Thais Castillo-Morales from Costa Rica:

Naomi and Thais

Naomi now moves to the first board:

First board! by Paul Truong

July 2, evening Round 3: Naomi loses to a fellow American Woman FIDE Master (WFM) Sanjana Vittal:

Sanjana and Naomi

July 3, morning Round 4: Naomi draws with a WFM Trilce Cosme-Contreras from Peru:

Trilce and Naomi

Playing with 18-year-olds is tough for a 14-year-old Naomi.

See the other photos from July 2 and 3: https://goo.gl/photos/a5ywdyPosbna1qHy7  July 3, evening Round 5 Naomi wins against WFM Priya Trakru from USA.

July 4 in the morning Naomi gives an hour-long interview to Emma Gross from Epic Magazine over Google Hangout on Air.  After we return home, they will send a photographer to take Naomi's picture for a story.  In the evening Round 6 Naomi loses to WCM Thalia Cervantes-Landeiro from USA.

July 5 morning Round 7 Naomi wins against CM Rachel Miller from Jamaica; evening Round 8 draws against our friend WFM Nastassja Matus from USA.

July 6 last Round 9 Naomi risks in a drawn position and loses to WFM Corals Patino from Venezuela.  In the afternoon Girls Under 14 Blitz tournament Naomi shares 1 - 2 place, and gets a nice parrot-shaped trophy (and that's Susan Polgar in the background):


Costa Rica

After the tournament ends, we move to Hotel Balmoral in downtown San Jose, next to Avenida Central and Plaza de la Cultura.  This is the centermost location to explore the capital and venture on a day trip.

Costa Rica is famously amazing. We discover yet another stunning Mesoamerican culture, bustling city life, friendly people, breathtaking nature, gorgeous plants, unknown animals.  Better see these photo albums:













On July 11 we fly directly to Newark for the North American Youth Chess Championship, July 12-16.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Glittery centerfold in the "425" magazine

Rapid-fire Q&A, drop-dead cool photo

2017-05-24 Naomi in 425 magazine no flash.jpg


At the end of March, Lauren Foster, the 425 magazine managing editor, contacted our school district communications manager about a possible interview with Naomi, after learning about her on their website.

The district reached out to the school principal, who emailed us parents in turn.  We deferred to Naomi's opinion, and she benevolently gave her consent to an interview which eventually took place on April 20.

Lauren came to our house with the specially booked photographer, Carlton Canary (their staff photographer was out of town).  The pair gave out a sophisticated glitzy vibe, somewhat rare and precious in our area.  

Even their names agreed with representing a glamorous magazine: Lauren and Carlton.  Compare these to our Seattle Times (also highly professional and accomplished) reporter and photographer pair names: Eric and Erica.

Lauren went straight into rapid-fire Q&A session with Naomi, which I recorded here (click to view the video):


Naomi was relaxed and in a good mood.  It looked more like a chit-chat among girls.  Only by carefully listening to the conversation one could realize the depth and care Lauren put into her questions, and appreciate the quick adaptive follow-ups.  We learned how different journalistic styles can be, for different formats and publications.


The photographer Carlton has set up his equipment during the interview, so the photo shoot started right after.  This was pure meta - I was shooting Carlton shooting Naomi.  She posed for him effortlessly, as a true media star.  He took outside daylight shots on our view deck, with the lake-downtown-mountains background:  





Then he took inside flashlight shots with the trophies-on-stairway background:


And here is the near moment Carlton took the photo that ended up at the 425 magazine centerfold above:


For a full month after the interview, we would periodically check the 425 magazine website, hoping to find the interview there.  Eventually, on May 24, we received a large mail envelope with two printed issues of the magazine, and a drop-dead cool centerfold story, with that glamorous photo.  Well worth waiting!

And then on June 21 this article appeared in the online edition, a month after the print edition, and two months after the interview itself: http://425magazine.com/qa-naomi-bashkansky/