Webster University was the proud co-host of the 2nd annual “FIDE WOM Chess for Girls” competition, which brought 10 of the world’s best young chess players from around the globe—from Indonesia to Belarus—to the Vienna campus for a week of training and competition.
Webster University partnered with the Commission for Women’s Chess (WOM) of the International Chess Federation (FIDE) as well as the Austrian Chess Federation and the Susan Polgar Foundation to hold the competition.
As chess is more than a game—functioning to improve general intellectual performance—Webster University fosters a culture of playing chess, leveraging the educational opportunities that come from this game. Legendary grandmaster and world champion Susan Polgar coaches Webster’s three-time collegiate national champion team and directs the Susan Polgar Institute for Chess Excellence (SPICE), which is housed at Webster.
Part of the SPICE mission is to be a leader in promoting chess as a vehicle for enriching the education of children and to be a leader in promoting women’s chess. The “Chess for Girls” tournament aligns with this mission, aiming to raise the playing level of elite young female talent worldwide.
The 10 participants, aged 15-20, were invited to Vienna from June 29-July 4, based on the April 2015 Top Girls’ Rating list, with the restriction that only one player per federation was allowed.
- Ziaziulkina, Nastassia (Belarus) 2431
- Osmak, Iulija (Ukraine) 2426
- Khademalsharieh, Sara (Iran) 2412
- Aulia, Medina (Indonesia) 2412
- Abdumalik, Zhansaya (Kazakhstan) 2411
- Davaademberel, Nomin-Erdene (Mongolia) 2371
- Blagojevic, Tijana (Montenegro) 2338
- Bykova, Anastasia (Russia) 2337
- Mammadzada, Gunay (Azerbaijan) 2336
- Gazikova, Veronika (Slovakia) 2314
The week began Monday, June 29, with a four-day training session with Polgar and her team. Two talented chess players from Austria, Veronika Exler and Katharina Newrkla, were also invited to join the four-day training session with the chess legend.
On Thursday, Austrian media personality Uschi Pöttler-Fellner, founder of Woman, and editor-in-chief of Madonna and Look! magazines, also tried her hand in a game against Polgar, which was filmed and featured on the Look! website. Other members of the Vienna chess community also tried their luck in a few rounds against the grandmaster, but Polgar remained unbeaten.
This was also the last day of training for the girls. The two-day round-robin competition in Rapid Chess G/15 +10 began on Friday, July 3, with an opening ceremony. Both Polgar and the president of the Austrian Chess Federation, Kurt Jungwirth, gave their welcome. A total of 6050 EUR in cash prizes were at stake in the tournament.
After intense hours of concentration on Friday and Saturday, 15-year old Gunay Mammadzada from Azerbaijan emerged as champion, going 8-1 and taking home the first prize of 2000 EUR. Sara Khadem from Iran and Zhansaya Abdumalik from Kazakstan tied for 2nd and 3rd with 6-3, while Nastassia Ziaziulkina finished fourth with 5.5-3.5.
The Closing Ceremony took place on July 4, and the speakers included Ernst Strouhal, an acclaimed Austrian chess historian, Josef Pöcksteiner, vice-president of the Austrian Chess Federation, Polgar, and Webster’s provost, senior vice president and chief operating officer Julian Schuster, as well as Webster Vienna director Arthur Hirsh. It was fitting, as Strouhal noted, that Webster, a global university, celebrated U.S. Independence Day with chess — a game played all over the globe that speaks the language of all nations and colors.
View more photos in this Webster Vienna Flickr album.
Category: International & U.S. Campuses