Thursday, December 5, 2019

Berkeley Summer International Master Norm Tournament, 2019

Holding my first Woman International Master (WIM) norm certificate, Berkeley 2019

Elizabeth Shaughnessy, the founder of Berkeley Chess School and the organizer of this tournament, sent me a personal invite a year before the event. Because I have been away from competitive chess for several years, I graciously declined the offer at the time. In May 2019, one random Saturday morning, I decided to enter in the tournament, that was happening at the Marshall Chess Club. Despite having lack of practice and confidence, I surprisingly did very well and even gained 20 USCF rating points. Immediately that evening, I called up Elizabeth and told her that I changed my mind and want to participate in the tournament. She was thrilled. Besides, it was a great excuse to visit the Bay Area, place where I have lived for ten years.

Just landed in SF, on my way to Berkeley!
(I was posting some updates on my Instagram page (@byambaauyanga))

In summer 2019, in addition to my full time work, I was taking Real Analysis course at Columbia. My final exam was scheduled right before the day of the tournament. As soon as my three hour final exam was over, I rushed to JFK taking 7 hour flight to SFO from NYC. As soon as I settled in Berkeley at my friends house, with no rest, I immediately had to play my first round. 5 more hours of chess awaiting for me, all at the same day! Not an ideal situation to start the tournament! But, I was extremely excited to finishing my course, taking my first vacation from work, and going to see my friends in the Bay Area.

Berkeley Summer Invitational, 2019 /pictured with Berkeley Chess School Founder Elizabeth Shaughnessy​, WGM Carla Heredia Serrano​ (ECU), IM  Carolina Lujan​ (ARG), IM Lisandra Ordaz Vald├ęs​ (CUB), WGM Agnieszka Matras-Clement​ (CAN), and WGM Yuleisy Hernandez Moya (CUB) /
 Round 1: Against WIM Thalia Cervantes (2118)

Click here to see the game

Despite being physically and mentally exhausted before the game starts, I had to push myself beyond limitation to do everything I can do to play fighting chess. The game was extremely dynamic and tactical, every move required accurate calculation. I even had to sacrifice my queen for some compensation. Unfortunately, I missed a forced draw in time scrabble at the end.

The round 1 was rough. 

Round 2: Against Saikhanchimeg Tsogtsaikhan (2011)

In round 2, I was paired against my fellow Mongolian, Saikhanchimeg. The game was quite dramatic. I played my opening like someone who is rated twelve hundred. Despite being in deep trouble in the early middlegame, I somehow swindled my way out for a comeback.The game was chosen to be "the game of the round 2" and analyzed by a special guest. The game analysis can be found here:

Click here to see the game

Round 3: IM Carolina Lujan (2352), #1 rated Female player from Argentina 

Click here to see the game

Thrown away completely winning endgame! Made lot of blunders in time pressure and scored only half point, which supposed to be a full point. Even though it ended in a disappointing result, I was happy with my overall play. I feel that as each round goes by, I was playing stronger. She an strong International Master and #1 female chess player from Argentina. She showed her strong experience and resourcefulness at the end - sacrificed her knight to forced the position into a theoretical draw.
Almost in all of my games, I was getting into severe time pressure. Having very little experience in that particular time control didn't help my situation. Figuring out how to play with an increment was an another challenge. 30 sec can be a lot of time or it can be nothing!

Round 4: Against IM-Elect Annie Wang (2321)

Click here to see the game

Round 5: Against WGM Anjelina Belakovskaia (2191)

Click here to see the game
It was great to score a full point, after a tough loss in the previous round.
Interview  after the round :

Round 6: Against IM Lisandra Ordaz Valdes (2393), #1 rated female player in Cuba

Round 6, Berkeley Summer IM Norm International

Click here to see the game

Round 7:  Against GM Irina Krush (2417)
Round 7, Berkeley Summer International Master Norm tournament

Irina played a same opening as Annie Wang played against me. I knew I was worse in the opening in that game, so I had to come up with something different against Irina's test. Unfortunately, I still didn't achieve an equal position out of the opening. Nevertheless, the position was still dynamic and complicated, I was able to secure a draw by perpetual. If I don't make the draw, I was worse. Besides, drawing against a Grandmaster was an achievement for me.

Click here to see the game

The last day has came. I needed 1.5 out of 2 to qualify for a WIM norm.
Round 8: WIM Agnieszka Matras-Clement (2260), #1 rated female player in Canada

 Game analysis with Carla:

My opponent needed a win for this round to pursue her WGM norm possibility. Both players in time pressure, she made a very tricky move, which cost her the game. However, in her situation, it was a practical decision.

Click here to see the game 

Round 9: WGM Yuleisy Hernandez Moya (2199)

Click here to see the game

I was very surprised by her opening choice. Facing against Yugoslav Attack,  without fear, I confidently played my Sicilian Dragon and got an comfortable position with extra healthy pawn. Though chess never is simple, the position was getting complicated. It was too risky for me to push for a win when all I need was a draw.

Closing Ceremony:

Overall, I had a great performance! Coming in, I had low expectations. I knew I didn't have the best preparation, but I made sure that in each game, I played my heart out. Never would have thought beating #1 ranked female player from Canada, drawing against #1 female ranked player from Argentina and  7-times US Woman's Chess Champion GM Irina Krush and qualifying for Woman International Master (WIM) norm after taking a break from tournament chess for three years. Being part of this amazing event and competing against such strong opposition really sparked my interest in getting back to chess again.

Thank you to the amazing organizers!

Thank you Berkeley Chess School for organizing this amazing event!

Representing Mongolia and holding my norm certificate!

Time to celebrate for our success!
A message from a fan: 
More recaps on the tournament: 

US Chess Online: 
American Chess Magazine:  Check out my interview on page 62, November issue 2019

After  the tournament : 

A visit to Mechanics Chess Club:
Live streaming about to start!

Cruising at San Francisco Bay: 

See you next year Bay Area!
Thank you everyone who supported me on this journey! 

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Teaching chess - Berkeley Chess School, 2011-2018

My involvement with Berkeley chess school spans wide range of activities - teaching after school enrichment chess program at the local elementary schools, coaching special Friday night training program, training Berkeley Bishop Sunday girls program, teaching summer camp at the master class, and performing other activities such as simultaneous exhibitions, guest lecturer and coach at the local, state and national scholastic tournaments. 

Game analysis room, Girls State Championship training, 2016

One of my favorite coaching session is teaching summer camps. it is usually a week long all day training. Although it sounds intense, I believe tournament players can really benefit from this kind of intense training.
A screenshot is from Berkeley Chess School Social Media page, 2016

A week later my student from summer camp drew against GM Sam Shankland in simul exhibition, 2016

Play time, Advanced girls class, 2016
Lecture time, Sunday Morning class, 2016

Master Girls Class, 2017

Berkeley Bishops traveled to Fremont for the match between Berkeley and Weibel chess, 2017
More info on Berkeley Chess School: visit

Monday, October 28, 2019

Teaching chess - Ger Youth Center, 2012-2017

In Fall 2012, I got a call from Eska, the founder of Bi Mongol School/Ger Youth Center, proposing an idea of opening up a chess club at the Ger Youth Center. Although I didn't have much experience of teaching chess at that time, saying yes was one of the best decisions I've made.
Celebrating a successful fall semester, 2012
I started off with less than ten students in 2012. After two years, my enrollment skyrocketed over fifty.  While I was thrilled with rapid expansion of my program, my goal was to create competitive chess club in the state and nationwide. Over the years, I carefully developed my own curriculum and assignments, as well as organized and directed many our own scholastic tournaments.

First Ger Youth Center Scholastic Chess Tournament, 2013
Tournament Director, coach Doyle and Enkhjin, 2013 First Ger Youth Center Quad
Our Star Student Enkhjin Gomboluudev broke USCF 1100 at 2013 Ger Youth Center Quad. Couple years later she became one of the top girls in your her age in the country.

Every new beginning of school year, we have parents  and coaches meeting to plan ahead our goals and expectations. I was pleased to see another great number of enrollment and commitments.

Fall 2014, Coach Uyanga, getting ready start a new school year!

Advanced class, 2014
Beginner class, 2015

Beginner class, 2015
Lecture time!
During lecture, students are expected to give their all focus and attention. Intermediate -1 class, 2015
Every semester, based on students performance - attendance, answering questions during lecture, homework and tournament results - I reward the best student of the year.
Star Student, Advanced class 2015
Star Student, Intermediate - 2 class, 2015

Soon, I started accepting 4-year-olds in my program. Usually, 4 is little too young to start playing chess, but it's the best age to start. As a coach, there's nothing more rewarding to see your 4-year-old student checkmates her opponent.

Our Kindergarden team receiving  an award at the CA state championship, Photo by Dr. Kirshner

As a part of Ger Youth Center, I also volunteer events at the school to support our community. Over the last 6 years, running the chess club wasn't the only fun, It was the community that welcomed me and helped me grow tremendously personally and professionally.

Ger Youth Center, Mongolian Treasure, 2015
Mongolian Pride, Bi Mongol School/Ger Youth Center
Mongolian Pride fundraising event, Bi Mongol School/Ger Youth Center
For the recognition of the contribution for children's development, I was awarded "Success Bronze Medal" from Mongolian Youth Federation.  I was thrilled to be recognized for my hard work and dedication towards educating children. I'm very grateful for the nomination by Ger Youth Center community for this award. This achievement provided more encouragement to further expand my program.

Receiving an award from Mongolian Youth Federation through Consulate General of Mongolia

In 2016, I focused more on organizing and directing our own tournaments and training my students at the state and national championships.
Ger Youth Center, Winter Quad 2016
Tournament Director, Coach Uyanga, Ger Youth Center, Winter Quad 2016

Ger Youth Center, Winter Quad 2016
Ger Youth Center, Winter Quad 2016, Photo by Ganchimeg
Ger Youth Center, Winter Quad 2016, Photo by Ganchimeg
Ger Youth Center, Winter Quad 2016, Photo by Ganchimeg

Ger Youth Center, Spring Swiss 2016
Ger Youth Center, Spring Swiss 2016

In 2017, I was attending UC Berkeley full-time. However, I still managed to continue teaching quite a bit. Despite the full course load at Cal, I insisted giving up on my program, which I built from the scratch.
Fall 2017

Intermediate - 2 class in action, tournament game
Student's homework

One of the most unforgettable moments was that my students used to bug me for giving them more homework. They loved doing puzzles. it used to take me about three hours to just correct all their homework and give them their earned points.
Intermediate - 1 class, 2017
Another rewarding aspect of teaching at Ger Youth Center was that the participation for girls were incredible in my program. This is not girls' class (picture above). This is just my regular class, just happens to have all girls. As a female chess player, I'm keen to promote chess among girls. I was flattered to see in my whole program almost majority of my students were girls.

At the end of the each semester, I love giving out gifts. Whoever has the most points earned during the semester gets to pick first.  It's a fun way to end the semester and to celebrate all the hard work.

End of semester awards

Intermediate - 1 class excited for the award ceremony

The trophy is awarded for the tournament winner!

Beginner class received their awards

Intermediate class
Advanced class
2017 was unfortunately the end of my journey with Ger Youth Center.  Before I leave the Bay Area community in 2018, I was invited to give a talk at the "Mongolian Pride - 5" annual fundraising event. It was my honor to be up there on the stage as I shared my thought and experiences over the last 6 years. Looking back, Ger Youth Center was like a family. I'll miss my dear fellow teachers, coworkers, staff, parents and my loving students.

November 2018, Mongolian Pride -5, Ger Youth Center
with Eska, the President of Bi Mongol School, November 2018, Mongolian Pride -5, Ger Youth Center
November 2018, Mongolian Pride -5, Ger Youth Center