WEBSTER GROVES, MO. - An all-girls chess tournament has wrapped up at Webster University, and 12-year-old Nasstasja Matus from Minnesota is the winner.
"Don't be scared of your opponents because if you're scared of your opponents you don't attack during the game," Matus said.
Matus walks away with a trophy and a full scholarship to Webster University, but she and her competitors are gaining even more. The tournament empowers the girls.
"Back home, when I play in tournaments, sometimes the guys will be like, 'Oh, I'm just playing a girl,' and that made my confidence in chess kind of drop," participant Charity Farell said. "Since going to the Girls' Invitational, I have been a lot more confidence in my chess ability."
Susan Polgar is founder and head coach. She says the experience paves the way for college and a career in various fields.
"It's perhaps closer to STEM related fields but we have students for example in the SPICE program who do international relations or marketing," Polgar said.
Anna Wyzywany is proof. She returns this year as an alumna.
"Now, I am enrolling school in North Carolina," Wyzywany said. "I play piano there. I'm going to do a nursing degree and I'm getting married to a chess player. Chess has opened many opportunities for me."
This is the tournament's 14th year and almost 70 girls competed this time. With 12 countries represented, the girls are making friends from around the world.
"They are meeting girls who are also the best in their state, in their countries, and they can share experiences and motivate each other," Polgar said.
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