Thursday, April 3, 2008

Flashback: September 12, 2004


September 12, 2004

Move over, monopoly. Back up, Barbie.
Chess is the name of the game for this all-girl-powered trio. West Homestead Elementary students Elsie Medrano, 9, Edith Acosta, 9, and Isamar Duran, 8, captured the first-place team trophy, at the first Girls National Open Chess Tournament in Chicago.
``The trophy is taller than me,'' said Isamar, who also placed fourth individually during the May tournament. ``We had to bring it on the plane, and everyone was looking and asking what it was for.''
The three players battled it out, round after round, against 250 students from all over the United States.
The girls won the 8-and-under division against fifteen schools.
``I am so proud of these girls,'' said Andy Ramos, the chess coach and a teacher at the school, 1550 SW Sixth St. in Homestead. ``It is a phenomenal accomplishment and our school deserves the recognition.'' This is Elsie’s second year. Edith and Isa started this year. The fact that they are my students has given my more time to work with them.”
The trio is part of the chess club, made up of about 70 kids, who have competed in scores of tournaments around the state since the club started in 2001.
Trophies and medals line the book shelves of the West Homestead library where the players meet everyday before, and after, school. The results has been state and local championships.
``I love to play,'' Edith said. ``I am able to meet people and excel at something very cerebral.''
In a game that has been typically dominated by boys, chess is now catching the eye of girls.
``Boys tend to be more aggressive or competitive at this age than girls so that may explain why more boys play than girls,’’ says Ramos, a former college baseball player. ``But after seeing what these girls were able to do, more are starting to see that they can play, too.''
About 190 schools in Miami-Dade County qualify for the money, which buys books, computers, extra teachers and the chess club.
Ramos said the game also teaches discipline. ``They have to concentrate and focus; it is a type of behavior modification; plus, they really love the competition.''
As for the girls, they all agreed that they loved Chicago but were ``freezing cold.''
They got to ride in a limousine for their first time after the tournament - and they are all back in the chess club again this year.
``When I am older,'' says Elsie, ``I want to be an international chess grandmaster and a coach, or maybe a teacher.''

Eight Years Old or Younger

Individual Winners:

1. Anna Matlin, NJ
2. Eve Zhurbinsky, NJ
3. Alice Li, KY
4. Isamar Duran, FL
Team Winners:

1. West Homestead, FL
2. Latin, IL
3. McKenzie, IL

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