The Bashkansky family Chess Travel blog

The Bashkansky family Chess Travel blog: parents Guy and Ludmila with children NM Ethan and WIM Naomi

Monday, January 30, 2017

King County Council proclamation recognizes Naomi as World Chess Champion

Last month Naomi won the World School Chess Championship, Girls Under 13.  Back home, she turned into a media star.  The stardom snowball became self-sustainable, with a newspaper article leading to another, then to a TV story, and then even to the local government attention.

The King County Councilmember Claudia Balducci decided to read a proclamation recognizing Naomi's achievement.  Her Chief of Staff Krista Camenzind organized this event diligently.  On January 30 at 1:15pm Claudia met Naomi and our whole family.

At 1:30pm at the Council Chambers, Claudia introduced Naomi, read some background notes and the proclamation, and Naomi had the opportunity to say a statement as part of the meeting.  The Council gave Naomi the proclamation and took a few photos. The Council issued a press release later that day.

Councilmember Balducci's talking points

I am pleased to recognize Naomi Bashkansky today for her win last month in the 2016 World School Chess Championship in the Girls Under 13 category in Sochi, Russia.

This is one of many competitions Naomi has won and it earned her the title of Woman FIDE Master from the World Chess Federation, which is a step along the way to becoming a Grandmaster.

Naomi is known for her aggressive playing style.  She was quoted in the Seattle Times saying “You try to get in a better position so that you keep crushing the opponent, and squeezing them.”

Naomi’s goal is to become a Woman’s Grandmaster or International Master by the time she finishes high school.  There are currently 1598 male grandmasters and only 33 female grandmasters so I hope she reaches her goal and inspires more girls to follow her example.

In addition to the traditional trophy and certificate, Naomi also given a coat-of-arms pen from Vladimir Putin.  That is certainly not something many other American’s have in their homes!

As the parent of a child about Naomi’s age, I know that her parents are integral to her success.  I want to recognize her father and mother.  Their enthusiastic support for their daughter shows in her success.

They use Naomi’s many trips to international chess competitions as opportunities for family vacations, going to Brazil, Mexico, Greece, Russia and other places.  When they travel, the make sure to leave the chess board behind once in awhile to explore and enjoy the cities they visit.

Naomi's father and mother, who are now raising two great kids in the Bellevue public school system, are outstanding examples of the types of people who make Bellevue and King County a diverse and thriving place.


WHEREAS, Naomi Bashkansky, a resident of Bellevue and student at Odle Middle School, won the 2016 World School Chess Championship in the girls under 13 category in Sochi, Russia on December 12, 2016; and

WHEREAS, Naomi was undefeated with four draws and five wins, playing against girls from Russia, Turkey and Kazakhstan; and

WHEREAS, With this win, Naomi earned the title of Woman FIDE Master from the World Chess Federation and has been invited to the 2017 World School Chess Championship in Romania; and

WHEREAS, Naomi is known for her aggressive play and strategy of squeezing her opponents; and

WHEREAS, Greg Serper, a chess grandmaster, is Naomi’s coach and helps realize her chess potential; and

WHEREAS, Naomi’s parents, Guy and Ludmila, and her older brother, Ethan, regularly travel the world so she can compete at international events;

NOW, THEREFORE, we, the Metropolitan King County Council, recognize and salute

Naomi Bashkansky

for her extraordinary accomplishment and outstanding achievement in world chess and hope that she will continue to enjoy competitive chess and one day be a grandmaster.

DATED this thirtieth day of January, 2017.

Naomi's statement

Thank you Councilmember Balducci for the proclamation. When I won the last round, I was just happy that I had an excuse for barely doing any of the homework I'd been given--I certainly hadn't imagined all this amazing recognition I'm getting. I'm grateful to my coach Greg Serper, who has trained me for years and prepared me in between games; to my parents, who organize everything while also making sure I get some fresh air outside before each game; and to everyone who encouraged me during the beginning of the tournament, when I hadn't been playing very well, most notably my brother Ethan. I wouldn't be standing here without them.

Videos from my smartphone (left, with subtitles) and the official broadcast (right, better sound + transcript):

The group photo of Naomi and her family, Claudia and other Councilmembers, H.G. Pitre and Josh Sinanan:

The King County TV broadcast with the meeting agenda, start at 1:45:

Monday, January 23, 2017

Chess, Dance

Chess is a dance within
Phiona Mutesi is a Ugandan chess champion and the subject of the film Queen of Katwe, which Naomi watched recently.  Naturally when Chess4Life CEO Elliott Neff invited chess kids to meet Phiona and her Ugandan chess mates, Naomi was excited to come, and stayed for quads afterwards.  Here are the photos:


Every half year we're in for a big treat -- Naomi's school dance concert.  It's thermodynamically impossible to be more excited and agitated than the performers and the spectators at these events!  Here, share some:

19:14 Naomi dances "Electric" to the song "Sing Sing Sing" by Benny Goodman -- and it's good!  Really good, not just "proud-parent-good".  Check it out:

Sunday, January 15, 2017

North American Open 2016

Out of the Frying Pan and Into the Fire
The North American Open took place in Bally's Las Vegas on December 26-30, 2016.  This has become our holiday-season tradition, we went there also in 2011, 2012, and 2015.

Just 10 days ago we came back from the World School Chess Championship, where Naomi took first place in the Girls Under 13 category, with the following heavy burden of fame.  

Naomi was very tired, had an 11 hour jet lag, and was 2 weeks absent from her high-pressure school program.  She stayed up at night doing homework and preparing for daily tests.  Done!  Winter break -- Las Vegas, here we come.  Can't unbuy those plane tickets.

Naomi has reached USCF rating 2108 at the beginning of November.  Which meant she had to play in the Under 2300 section at the NAO -- rather than Under 2100 where she'd have a chance to win money prize.  This is even though her rating bounced back to 2042 at the time of the tournament.  She played well with the heavies, placing in the middle of the pack, so her rating didn't change.

Tiresome Las Vegas?  It depends...

Fifth time in Las Vegas?  Fourth time in the same hotel?  You think it would become tiresome by now...  No problem, we find something new every time!  This time it was the Criss Angel Mindfreak magician show at the Luxor, the High Roller at the LINQ, the Mob Museum near the Fremont Street Experience, the Bellagio's Conservatory and the Singing Fountains (not really new...), and the National Atomic Testing Museum.

With our minds thus nourished, our bodies were overly well sustained by the gastronomic excess of the Paradise Garden buffet at the Flamingo and Le Village Buffet at the Paris.  Then the Wynn, the Palazzo and the Venetian fed our satiated eyes with their familiar luxury pop.  Take a look at the photo album... it's an offer you can't refuse:

Monday, January 2, 2017

Media Star Naomi

Victory has a thousand... journalists

After becoming the World School Chess Champion, Naomi has turned into a media star of sorts. Oh, the burden of fame!

On December 30, 2016, the KING 5 News with Lili Tan interviewed Naomi and her coach GM Greg Serper for the TV, just an hour and a half after we landed home from the NAO in Las Vegas.

That interview resulted in a January 3, 2017 KING 5 News TV segment, in three forms here:
  1. Live news TV broadcast screen video capture 7:18 PM (with different TV anchors and wording)

And here's the written press, led by Erik Lacitis' masterpiece in The Seattle Times, a gripping triumph of high-end journalism:

"You keep crushing the opponent, and squeezing them"

Stabilized video of Naomi getting first place award (starts at 37s, then runs for 30s):

Last month it exceeded 10K page views per month (and 50K at all time), as Naomi became world champion.

Which pales in comparison to the popularity of our coach GM Serper chess blog:

Happy New Year everybody!