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Tori Whatley bests previous Polgar finish

web posted August 4, 2010

LUBBOCK, Texas – Having been placed among the best scholastic chess players the nation has to offer, Edgefield County standout Tori Whatley proved she had the right moves for the competition. Due to a stronger rating this time around, Tori started higher in the order at the Susan Polgar Girl’s Invitational Chess Tournament, held on the campus of Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas.

And from the outset she was in the middle of the fray, fighting stronger opponents than she did in her previous appearance at this event two years ago. Playing conservatively, she managed to advance South Carolina, and herself, to a 33rd place finish, surpassing her old benchmark by 5 positions.

“Tori and I had a wonderful time (in Texas) and we really appreciate all the community has done for us,” David said of the local support they had received. 

Three rounds were played on Thursday, July 29th. 

Round 1 found Tori paired against the strongest player she would face at the event, Rachel Ulrich, from Illinois. In a very tactical game, Rachel edged out the S.C. champ just prior to being checkmated herself. In Round 2, Louisiana’s Amelia Wyzywany came out aggressively and defeated Tori soundly, never really allowing her into the game. Emily Hasch from Kansas would find herself matched with the determined South Carolinian in Round 3. Both players were unwilling to give in and the match would end in a draw.

The following day, the final three rounds were played. 

Round 4 had Tori playing a stronger Selena Wong from California. This match was close all the way through; however, strong end game tactics put the game in Tori’s win column. Minna Wang from Utah put up a fight in Round 5, but in the end, Tori would deny the more experienced player the win, and they would split the point in a draw. The final round found Tori facing Arizona’s champ, Aiya Cancio. Tori battled this very strong player fiercely, but Aiya was ultimately able to promote a pawn and win the game.

On the first day of camp, the guests were given a preview of what would be covered over the next three days of instruction. International Grandmaster Susan Polgar and her husband, National Master Paul Truong, who coached the 2004 Women’s Olympic Chess Team, covered their plan of action, specifically designed to enhance the playing ability and enjoyment of chess for girls. The following days would find the girls in intense classes that would open their eyes to new ways to see and sense activity on the board. They would learn to trust their instincts, the dynamic and static advantages and disadvantages that occur in every game. They would practice their visualization skills, closing their eyes and playing several moves ahead in their minds, responding to moves by their instructor. 

In all, memory, perception, and fundamental tactical skills were sharpened and honed.

There were other chess related activities such as the bughouse tournament in which Tori was teamed up with Katie Abderhalden of Idaho. Nicknaming their team the “Typos” (both girls have problems with people misspelling their names), the pair managed a couple of points finishing 17th. Tori also participated in the Blitz tournament were each player is allowed only 5 minutes on their clock. She finished 30th in this event.  The puzzle-solving championship found Tori with a solid 20th place performance as she solved 7 out of 10 difficult puzzles in 30 minutes flat.

But while the chess was hard-fought, there was also time for seeing the sights.

Other activities included swimming at the campus’s new lazy river and mini water park, group dancing with a professional dance instructor provided by Susan and Paul.

Maureen Grimaud, the wife of S.C. Chess Association president, David Grimaud traveled to the event to support Tori and Susan. At the closing ceremony she applauded Susan’s commitment to the girls and Texas Tech’s commitment to the event and presented Susan with a congratulatory cake that was shared with all.

Maureen invited Susan, Paul, Tournament Director Bob Jones, Counselor Julie Jones, SPICE coordinator Peggy Flores, Paul Truong Jr., Tori and David Whatley to a post tournament dinner where discussions turned toward next years event. 

Tori and David offered their thoughts on the new format and recommendations for future events.  The ideas were well-received and will most probably be implemented next year.

Letter from Senator DeMint – Tori and David arrived home to find a letter from Senator Jim DeMint commending her for her hard work and dedication to school and the game of chess.

Signed board – Tori took a silver Sharpie and a chess board for all of the girls to sign.  This is a very cool memento.  

Tori finds Susan inspirational.  Tori finds Susan’s fight to the top, breaking the gender barrier in high-level chess, and her steadfast dedication to girls chess very inspirational.   

Masked Rider – The Texas Tech mascot “Masked Rider” was on hand for pictures with the girls.

Buddy Holly - Before leaving town, Tori and her dad visited the gravesite of legendary rocker, Buddy Holly.  In keeping with local tradition they placed a guitar pick on the headstone. The Citizen News was there too!

Tori’s Best Friend -  Tori requested and received permission to room with her friend Crystal Qain from Arkansas. These two were inseparable two years ago. Crystal had won Miss Congeniality in 2008, and is a fun-loving girl!     

Local Support – Team Whatley was sponsored locally by Windsor Jewelers, Monterrey's Mexican Restaurant, The Citizen News, Field's Insurance, Petal Pushers, C&M Repair, Cash Ready ATM, Whatley Construction and Cohn's Concessions.

The Citizen News contributed to this report.

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