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At Discovery Middle School, teacher sponsor Julie Goldston, back left, and Principal Jamie Hill, back right, congratulate chess team members Christina Yang, from left, Caroline Wang and Nirvana Rajbhandari for their record-making wins at the All-Girls Nationals Chess Championship in Chicago, Ill. CONTRIBUTED

Madison girls show game strength in Chicago at All-Girls National Chess Championship

MADISON – At the All-Girls National Chess Championship, Discovery Middle School Chess Team members Christina Yang, Caroline Wang and Nirvana Rajbhadari won the first national championship in program history of Madison City Chess League or MCCL.

“This history-making team battled and maintained first place after each round by beating girls rated hundreds of points higher from across the country,” MCCL Executive Director Ranae Bartlett said. “The fifth-round wins from Christina Yang against an opponent over 200 points higher and from Caroline Wang against an opponent over 600 points higher were pivotal for the team as they established a 1.5-point lead going into the final sixth round,” Bartlett said.

Thirteen girls from Madison traveled to Chicago to compete at their first All-Girls National Chess Championship on April 22-24.

Coach Sarah May competed in this event herself nine and 10 years ago. This year, May has served as coach for Horizon Elementary School. She accompanied the girls on the trip to review games in between rounds. “The Madison girls did an outstanding job, winning awards and learning so much from the experience,” Bartlett said.

May served as tournament coach. Julie Goldston sponsors the Discovery Chess Team.

“We want to thank our chess parents for their continued support, along with our Grand-Master-Level sponsor Nilmini Thompson and SPS Inc. who helped fund our trip,” Bartlett said.

Constance Wang won an individual award as the top player rated under 1500 in the U18 section of All-Girls Nationals.

“Nirvana Rajbhandari had an epic tournament, winning 4 out of 6 possible points against much higher-rated opponents. She gained over 180 ratings points from this one event,” Bartlett said. Nirvana received the U16-eighth place trophy.

From Horizon Elementary School, the Under 12 team members Sophia Jerez and Samsara Rajbhandari won fifth place at All-Girls Nationals. Sophia said “the best part of All-Girls Nationals was that ‘no boys were allowed.’”

“It’s certainly a different dynamic when all the competitors are girls,” Bartlett said.

“Our girls learned a lot by competing on a national stage and enjoyed meeting other girls from across the country. MCCL provided meals for our competitors and coaches and transportation to and from the airport,” Bartlett said. MCCL also paid for travel for Goldston and May.

“Your donations to our Girls Chess Initiative and payment of membership fees helps us provide support to our girls at national tournaments,” Bartlett said. Individuals or businesses can donate by visiting madisonchess.com/products/23; donations to the MCCL Girls Chess Initiative fund will help Madison girls travel and compete at All-Girls Nationals next year.

“Our families had the best time in Chicago and can’t wait to return next year!” Bartlett said. The Madison group had the opportunity to sightsee before the tournament started. The girls sampled Chicago-style pizza and visited Chinatown, Navy Pier, Shedd Aquarium, Field Museum, Museum of Science and Industry and the Art Institute of Chicago.

After the championship’s awards ceremony, all the hotel restaurants had closed for Sunday night. Luckily, Madison chess parents eked out supplies to present “a wonderful celebration dinner. Our chess parents are the best,” Bartlett said.

For more information, visit madisonchess.com/blog/madison-girls-win-national-championship.

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