Tuesday, August 9, 2011

13 year old shined at 2011 SPGI



Chess champ captures honors

Posted: Tuesday, August 9, 2011 10:00 am

SANDPOINT — Savanna Naccarato’s chess skills have been making waves in the Northwest, but now her reputation is spreading across the nation.

The 13-year-old Sandpoint resident placed ninth in the 2011 Susan Polgar Girls Invitational, a national chess tournament held at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas, from July 24-29. Chess masters said Savanna performed remarkably for an eighth-grader at her first national tournament, defeating older, more experienced players and ending with four wins against two losses.

For Savanna’s father Chris, who got her started on chess a few years ago, the national tournament is simply another step toward her goal of becoming Idaho’s first female grandmaster.

“For her first national tournament, she’s done an incredible job,” he said. “I’m really proud of her.”

Savanna earned her invitation by tying for first place with two other players in the Idaho Scholastic Girls Championship in Boise.

Although she qualified for the national event, a few significant challenges stood between her and Texas.

First, the system most frequently used to calculate Savanna’s player rating differed from the tournament standard. In a competitive system where defeating a higher-rated player is more advantageous, point discrepancies can pose a serious problem. Fortunately, tournament organizers converted her established rating to a 1600, placing her squarely in the middle of a pack featuring ratings as high as 1967.

Travel expenses were a more significant problem. However, the community stepped up to the task. Businesses, friends, family and organizations like the Spokane Chess Club, the Idaho Chess Association, the Kiwanis Club and the Lions Club stepped up to finance the trip. The Naccaratos also staged a yard sale that generated $800 in both transactions and donations.

“Even though the trip was really expensive, it was also really worth it,” Naccarato said.

Indeed, the tournament provided an unparalleled learning experience. When she wasn’t in competition, Savanna spent her free time training with her fellow participants. She also attended workshops where chess masters detailed advanced strategies, positioning concepts and tactics.

“They brought up points of the game I didn’t even know existed,” Savanna said.

Luckily, her prior training with Washington chess master John Graves paid off when it counted. Savanna blasted through her first and second opponents during the competition.

More here.