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Next Move for Local Girls? Plan to vie for new chess titles

By Bill Wilson

San Miguel de Allende is noted for many honors and famous people. We are often the best small city, a noted tourist hot spot, great cuisine, striking Gothic and Colonial architecture, an UNESCO World Heritage City and for being in the "cuna de independence" or cradle of Mexican independence. Writers, film stars, artists famous and other notables from all parts of the globe have walked our cobbled stone streets. Now another honor may come to San Miguel: Home of Youth Chess Champions. Lily and Renata Duarte, respectively 12 and 9 years old of San Miguel, have a chance to compete in the North American Youth Chess Championship.

"Lily & Renata started seriously playing chess less than two years ago, when Renata just turned 8 and Lily was 10.  They met the late Glenn Wilson at the SMAjedrez Chess Club and were tutored by him. He encouraged them to compete in local and regional tournaments," explains Deb Duarte, who originally hails from North Carolina.

The young ladies born in Mexico started at a basic level. Renata lost her first tournament game because she didn’t know the rules and made some illegal moves.  Over the past year and a half, they have progressed rapidly and according to mentor Thomas David have achieved remarkable success in competing against the best players in Mexico in their respective age groups.  David, an attorney and businessman, has lived in SMA for five years. " I was a recreational player until I met Glenn. He mentored me, playing games with me and giving me lessons and pointers.  Glenn was a Master Chess player," he recalls.

Within the last three months, explains David, they have competed on the national level in the World Youth Championship qualifying tournament, where Renata won two first place and one second place finishes.  Lily won two first place and one third place finishes.  They both qualified to represent Mexico in the World Youth Tournament later this year.

In March, they played in the Mexican national championships in Queretaro, where Renata, age 9, won 1st place in "Ten and Under" while playing against 41 of the best players in Mexico in her age group.  Lily, age 12, tied for 2nd on points in the "Fourteen and Under" age group but was awarded 5th after the tie breaking rules were applied. She competed against 58 of the best young players in Mexico. Their showing in this tournament qualified both of them to compete in two additional international competitions, the Pan American Youth Chess Championships and the North American Junior Chess Championships.  The girls have their choice of opportunities to compete at the international level and to continue to develop their games.  The World Youth Championships hold the different age group tournaments in different countries. That means that Renata would have to travel to the country of Georgia while Lily would travel to Brazil to compete.

Explains David, "The World Championships are held very soon, in August.   The competitors must pay their own entry fees and travel costs, which run into the thousands of dollars per tournament.  The family has supported the girls during many local, regional and national tournaments throughout Mexico but international competition is much more expensive.   Because of the travel logistics, the costs and the short time frame, the Duarte family has decided not to compete in the World Youth Championships."

Lily & Renata have two other opportunities to compete.The Pan American Youth Championship is held in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida in July but competitors must confirm their reservations by the end of May. They would like to compete in this tournament but the schedule leaves little time to fundraise.  It is unlikely that they will be able to compete in this tournament.  The North American Junior Chess Championships are to be held later this year at a time and place to be announced.  This is the tournament that the girls and the family are most interested in and it makes the most sense logistically and financially, notes Thomas David.

"The later start date will give the girls more time to prepare and the family more time to gather the necessary funds. This is the tournament that they are focused on. If we can raise $3,000 US dollars ($4,075 Canadian) in donations, the girls would compete in the North American Junior Chess Championships," said David. He continues, "SMAjedrez helped start them on their chess journey and we would like to help them move to the next level. We have created a Go Fund Me page at It would be wonderful to have our own Lily and Renata represent San Miguel and Mexico at the upcoming North American Junior Chess Championship! Please contribute if you can."

About the chess club: The club meets The name is SMAjedrez Chess Club. It meets at Cafe Murmullo from 10:00am to 1:00pm each Saturday. Calle Ancha de San Antonio 24.

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