Thursday, August 11, 2011

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Young chess phenom wins scholarship to Texas Tech at tournament



Dyhemia Young's journey to the Susan Polgar Girls' Invitational chess tournament was long and difficult, and though she didn't win the competition, she did receive a scholarship to Texas Tech.



By Maria L. La Ganga, Los Angeles Times

August 4, 2011



Reporting from East Palo Alto, Calif. -- Dyhemia Young left for Lubbock, Texas, with a black eye — compliments of a girl at her East Palo Alto group home — and returned the proud recipient of a chess scholarship worth $40,000.



Along the way, the 15-year-old from the wrong side of San Francisco, who could not have made it to a prestigious chess tournament without the kindness of strangers, became a nationally rated player.



Photos: Dyhemia Young wins chess scholarship



"My journey here, it was tough, because I had a lot of situations going on at home," she said tearfully after her first win, Game 3 of the six-game Susan Polgar Girls' Invitational.



The tournament takes place each year at Texas Tech University, drawing the top-rated girl from each state. Polgar, the first woman to earn the title of grandmaster, also issues two "wild card" invitations to gifted players who haven't traveled the pricey road of official competition.



Dyhemia, who has spent the last three years in and out of foster care, received one of the wild card bids. But when Adisa Banjoko, her chess mentor, called in June with the good news, Dyhemia had disappeared.



It took nearly a month and the help of a San Francisco police detective to locate Dyhemia; after a short stint in juvenile hall, she had ended up in the teen home.



Then there was the matter of money — nearly $3,000 was needed to send the high-school junior and a chaperone to the six-day event. After reading her story in The Times, generous donors sent thousands of dollars Dyhemia's way.



Problem solved? Not so fast.



The night before her flight to Texas, Dyhemia was sitting in the group home studying for her driver's license test with the help of a staff member. When the woman left the room, Dyhemia continued to drill herself. "Why don't you just shut up?" one of the other girls said before charging Dyhemia and punching her in the face.



"It all stemmed from jealousy," Sheila George, who heads the group home and accompanied Dyhemia to Texas, said in a phone interview from Lubbock. "Dyhemia came down here with all this in her soul and mind and heart. She had to get rid of all that junk."



When the rattled girl and her worried chaperone stepped off the plane in Texas, they were greeted by Polgar and a cheering group of chess players — Dyhemia's competitors and new found friends.



More here.