Alexandra Wiener, 2012 Scholar-Chessplayer Award Recipient

Alexandra Wiener, 2012 Scholar-Chessplayer Award Recipient

2012 Scholar-Chessplayer Award Recipient

The Secret Life of a Teenage Chess Player
by Alexandra Wiener

Flipping through the pages of my seventh grade yearbook, I come across the picture of a girl who resembles me, but not quite exactly. Although her hair is the same chestnut brown, her noses’ arch is indistinguishable and her broad smile is almost identical, there is something different about the girl who stares back at me; she seems conflicted. Gazing into the open window of her midnight blue eyes, I see a girl too scared to be different, and without the confidence to be herself.

The five-year span between fourth and ninth grade was spent darting across a tightrope string of deceptions even with my closest friends, due to the perceived pressure from my peers to be “cool.” What started, as a harmless way to protect my identity and salvage my social life quickly became an uncomfortable game of circumvention. When friends would ask why I couldn’t attend a certain event on a Saturday night, I would reply that I was, “visiting a family friend,” or that I had “soccer.” To everyone who knew me, I was a “jock”, who scurried back and forth between soccer and softball practices and state championship games. In reality however, this label only covered half of my life. The other half, my best-kept secret, stayed tucked away for fear that I would be stereotyped as a “nerd.” It wasn’t until ninth grade that anyone other than my family learned that I was a nationally ranked chess player.

The first time that I uttered the words, “I’ll be away this weekend…playing chess,” to a close friend, they came out in a whisper. Now, three years later, I openly talk about my chess competitions to anyone who is willing to listen. I must attribute this change to my experiences with chess over the last nine years, which have given me the confidence to be myself, and to be comfortable with who I am. Chess, introduced me to a worldwide community that has no limitations on age, gender, race, ethnicity, religion, wealth, ability or disability. As a result, I was forced from an early age into situations where I had to interact with people much older and quite different from me. Even more daunting was the fact that I was often only one of a few girls in a room filled with hundreds of males. Overcoming my discomfort with the environment at chess competitions, taken with my successes as a competitive chess player, have greatly increased my self-confidence and helped me to see that being a chess player made me unique, not a “nerd.”

Looking back on it now, I laugh at the thought that for five years of my life, I led two separate lives as a “jock” and a “nerd”. I now think of these labels as absurd and limiting. Today when I look into the mirror, I see a woman who embraces the most unique aspects of her life and who hides them from no one, because she is proud of who she is.

Chess Achievements and Awards

  • United States All Girls National Chess Co-Champion (16 years & under – 2010) (5th Place: 12 years & under – 2006) (2nd Place: 10 years & under – 2004)
  • Six time Connecticut State Female Scholastic Champion (2005-2006 and 2008-2011)
  • Top chess competitor in the United States since age nine: Female Ranking – 99%
  • Five time Official CT State Representative to Polgar National All-Girls Invitational (2005-2006 and 2008-2010) (Youngest State Champion Representative at age 11 in 2005)
  • United States Chess Open Championship (Tied for 3rd Place – Class A) (2011)
  • World Chess Open Championship (Tied for 11th Place – Under 1600) (2006)
  • United States Girls Junior Open Championship (Top A Class Prize & Best Game Award- 2011) (Top B Class Prize – 2010)
  • Chess Magnet Junior Grand Prix National Competition (2010 National Top 50 Prize: Placed 22nd of 5,175) (2011 Current Standing: 18th of 5,563)
  • Chess Service, Leadership Activities and Employment
  • Chess Scholarships for Kids: Raised money with fellow chess champion at 2011 CT K-8 Chess Championship by offering autographs, photos and the chance to play five minute blitz games. Chess sets were bought and donated to CT State Chess Association to establish a scholarship program for inner-city children who will receive free lessons, a donated chess set and entry into chess tournaments. In 2012, I will mentor the program. (April 2011-Present)
  • Chessboard Auction: Arranged for 31 Grandmasters, so far, to sign a chessboard for auction. The proceeds will be used to fund Chess Scholarship for Kids Program. (April 2011-Present)
  • Bridgeport Board of Education Donation: Used prize winnings from 2011 United States Chess Open to purchase chess sets, which were donated to the Bridgeport Board of Education for distribution to first grade classrooms in school district. (September 2011)
  • National Educational Chess Association: Volunteer Chess Instructor of weekly class in elementary school program and volunteer Assistant Tournament Director. (2010-Present)
  • Fairfield County Chess Club: Volunteer Instructor/ Coach of weekly club program. Developed marketing strategy to attract disadvantaged students to join chess programs. (2011-Present)
  • Creative Idea Day: Corresponded with President Obama, Senator Lieberman, CT BOE & other officials proposing a “Creative Idea Day” to encourage students to become socially engaged by working collaboratively to offer creative solutions to community problems. (2010)
  • Personal Appearances: Ran chess workshop for CT Assn. for the Gifted “Minds in Motion” Program (3/11). As State Champion, invited speaker at scholastic tournaments. (2010-Present)
  • Light the Night Walks- Leukemia & Lymphoma Society: Beachside Club fundraiser (2008-9)
  • Teacher Certification: U.S. Chess Federation Certified Coach-one of two certified in CT (2011)
  • Private Chess Instructor/Coach: Employed as private chess teacher/coach. (2008-Present)

Chess Service, Leadership Activities

  • Chess Scholarships for Kids: Raised money with fellow chess champion at 2011 CT K-8 Chess Championship by offering autographs, photos and the chance to play five minute blitz games. Chess sets were bought and donated to CT State Chess Association to establish a scholarship program for inner-city children who will receive free lessons, a donated chess set and entry into chess tournaments. In 2012, I will mentor the program. (April 2011-Present)
  • Chessboard Auction: Arranged for 31 Grandmasters, so far, to sign a chessboard for auction. The proceeds will be used to fund Chess Scholarship for Kids Program. (April 2011-Present)
  • Bridgeport Board of Education Donation: Used prize winnings from 2011 United States Chess Open to purchase chess sets, which were donated to the Bridgeport Board of Education for distribution to first grade classrooms in school district. (September 2011)
  • National Educational Chess Association: Volunteer Chess Instructor of weekly class in elementary school program and volunteer Assistant Tournament Director. (2010-Present)
  • Fairfield County Chess Club: Volunteer Instructor/ Coach of weekly club program. Developed marketing strategy to attract disadvantaged students to join chess programs. (2011-Present)
  • Creative Idea Day: Corresponded with President Obama, Senator Lieberman, CT BOE & other officials proposing a “Creative Idea Day” to encourage students to become socially engaged by working collaboratively to offer creative solutions to community problems. (2010)
  • Personal Appearances: Ran chess workshop for CT Assn. for the Gifted “Minds in Motion” Program (3/11). As State Champion, invited speaker at scholastic tournaments. (2010-Present)
  • Teacher Certification: U.S. Chess Federation Certified Coach-one of two certified in CT (2011)

United States Chess Federation National Committee on Education

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Current ye@r *