Chesscampeona's Lessons From the National Girls Invitational

WCM Claudia Munoz is a new Ambassador for You'll read about her chess career here, learn tips, and be on the way to following in her footsteps. You can also log on to most Fridays between 5-7 p.m. Eastern to see her play or even challenge her to a game!

Middleton, Wisconsin is a small, beautiful, green suburb. More importantly, it was home of the 2013 National Girls Invitational. The town is outside of Madison, home of the 114th U.S. Open, which occurred at around the same time. I really applaud the tournament directors and staff for making a week full of fun chess possible.


Middleton, Wisconsin


This article is about my participation in the first-ever National Girls Invitational. In order to receive such an invitation, I had to qualify as a state representative - in my case, Texas. Yes, I am from the Lone Star State and am proud of it.

Back in January the USCF posted on its site the information about this tournament. The tournament information said that each state should have a qualifier in order to choose the one and only girl who would represent that state. After my father contacted the Texas Chess Association, they decided that the best placed female finisher in the High School Section of the Texas State Scholastic Championship would be the official representative.

I got eighth place overall out of more than 100 chess players in that tournament. I was one of the few girls. The other girl who was closest to me came in about 30 to 50 slots behind me, so I was named the official Texas representative for the National Girls Invitational Tournament, or NGIT.



Since I normally do not play in girls-only tournaments, a few months prior in April, I played in the 2013 All-Girls National Championships in Chicago as a practice tournament for the NGIT. I won first place, winning six of six. I was undefeated and I got my picture taken with Garry Kasparov. However, the results in Chicago were nothing like the results I earned in the National Girls Invitational. Therefore, let me share some tips that I learned along the way before, during, and after this tournament.


Traveling is always a fun thing to do, especially when you get to visit new places! But traveling can become crazy when you do not plan it correctly. Here are two tips on traveling:

1. Make sure to travel at least one day prior to your tournament. Why? Unexpected situations, weather, and plane malfunctions can only add to the craziness. Therefore, traveling at least one day prior can prevent you from arriving late or stressed to the tournament.



2.If you are flying make sure you have sufficient time to get from one plane to the next. Trust me, it is not fun when you have to run from one terminal to the next because you have a connecting flight in 30 minutes. Therefore, plan for at least a two to three hour layover.


Sportsmanship is not only respecting your opponent and being nice, it is also about applauding them when they defeat you. In the NGIT, I went undefeated halfway through the tournament but in the second half of the event the bottom fell for me. In the fourth round, I lost against Michelle Chen - the game received the "Best Game Award" of the tournament. She won $50 dollars for her victory, the game was posted on Chess Life Online, and it was broadcast live on the internet.


Winners of NGIT Class Prizes and WGM Jennifer Shahade at the far right (photo courtesy U.S. Chess Trust)

Humbling! Did that make me bitter? No. Just like there are great moments in chess, there are difficult moments that need to be translated into educational and learning episodes on the journey called "Chess." The following day, I sent her a Facebook message congratulating her (we were not yet Facebook friends) and she kindly answered with a "friend request." Now I have made an excellent friend for life.

So, even when you lose, be happy and thank your opponent, because they helped you identify areas of opportunities for improvement in your chess game. In other words they just made you better Laughing.


Claudia Munoz (l) against Michelle Chen


Ratings and Rankings

Ratings and board numbers mean nothing. In the NGIT, I arrived ranked number five out of 40. However, three days later I finished 13 out of 40. Ratings and rankings are simply a parameter of what you have done in the past, they are not a parameter of how you will do in the future, especially if you have never played those opponents.

These are only a few things that I learned in this first-ever 2013 National Girls Invitational in Wisconsin. I would like to believe that next year I will qualify to play in this tournament. I recognize that in my state of Texas there are many strong girls as well, and I would encourage you to attempt to qualify for this event in 2014.

Maybe, just maybe, we might be able to face each other on a chessboard.

You can read news of Claudia here or follow her on Twitter @Chesscampeona.