After a two-year pause during the pandemic, the All-Girls National Chess Championships returned to Chicago last weekend. The team of Isabela Maiewski, Lucia Scrimenti and Orlagh Reardon ably represented Evanston Township High School, tying for fifth place in the tournament’s oldest (under 18) age division. The competition in this division was quite strong; there were six players with U.S. Chess ratings above 2000 in the 53-player field. The Dalton School of New York, which won the National High School Championship in Memphis earlier this month, also came out on top at the All-Girls.

Scrimenti was Evanston’s top individual scorer, winning two games against higher-rated opponents on her way to a 3.5-2.5 score. Reardon won two games and earned the top rating among the unrated players who competed.

Maiewski played on the ETHS team that took third place at February’s Illinois High School Association State Chess Finals. As the highest rated player on this team, she faced the toughest opponents. Her win in the last round against a player from The Chapin School, which finished in third place, gave her an even 3-3 record.

White: Isabela Maiewski, ETHS

Black: Maya Nozaki, Chapin School, New York

1e4 c5 2c3 e6 3Nf3 Nf6 This move attacks white’s e-pawn before she can easily defend it. The other common defense is 3…d5.

4e5 Nd5 5Bc4 Nc6 60-0 Be7 7d4 cxd4 8cxd4 0-0 9Bxd5 exd5 10Nc3 d6 Maiewski can now win a pawn, but black has excellent chances to capture white’s underdefended pawn on e5.

11Nxd5 dxe5 12dxe5 Bg4 13Re1 Re8 14Qb3 Bxf3 15Qxf3

Black to move

15…Nd4 This move is risky. It would have been safer for black to play Bc5, holding onto her useful bishop and allowing her rook on e8 to attack white’s e-pawn.

16Qe4 Qa5?! If white takes the undefended knight, black can play Qxe1 checkmate. However, white can develop her bishop, connecting her rooks, so that the knight is truly threatened.

17Bf4 Bb4?! A better try, now or on the next move, was Rad8 to attack white’s knight.

18Rec1?! Nc6?! After 18Nxb4 Qxb4 19a3!, black would have trouble holding onto her knight.

White to move

19a3? Bd6! 20 b4 Qd8 White could have won two minor pieces in exchange for a rook by playing 19Rxc6, bxc6 20Nxb4. Both players now have chances in this tricky position.

21Qf5? Bxe5 22Nc3

Black to move

22…Bxf4? This leads to a balanced game. Black could have won a piece by playing 22…Bxc3 23Rxc3 Nd4 24Qd3 Ne2+ 25Kf1 Nxf4.

23Qxf4 Rc8 24Rd1 Qb6 25Nd5 Qb5 26a4 Qe2 27h3 Rcd8 28Rd2 Qe6 29Nc7

Black to move

29…Qe7? Black could keep the game even by playing 29…Qe5!, forcing the exchange of queens. After 30Qxe5 Nxe5!, black’s attack on white’s rook on d2 prevents white from capturing black’s rook on e8.

30Nxe8 Winning the rook for her knight gives Maiewski a decisive material advantage.

30…Rxe8 31b5 Na5 32Rd3 b6 33Re3 Qd8 34Rc3 h6 35Rac1 Qe7 36Rc7 Qe6

White to move

37Qe3 Forcing the exchange of queens. 37Rxa7 Nb3 38Rcc7 is also good.

37…Qxe3 38fxe3 Rxe3 39Rc8+ Kh7 40R1c7 Ra3 41Rxa7 Rxa4 42Rcc7 Rb4 43Rxf7 Kg6 44Rxg7+ Kf5 45Raf7+ Ke5 46Rg6 Kd4 47Rf4 Kc3 48Rxb4 Both players were now low on time. White misses 48Rg3+, winning black’s rook, but the rook trade also wins easily for white.

48…Kxb4 49Rxb6 Nc4 50Rxh6 Kxb5 51g4 Kc5 52g5 Kd5 53g6 Ne5 54Rh5 Ke6

White to move

55Rxe5+! Kxe5 and black resigns. Black can’t stop the white pawn from queening.

Keith Holzmueller

Keith Holzmueller has been the head coach of the Evanston Township High School Chess Club and Team since 2017. He became a serious chess player during his high school years. As an adult player, he obtained...

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