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Chess Queens

Fairfax schools hot second annual all-girl chess tournament.

Fairfax resident Kelly MacRitchie, 11, likes to play her chess tournaments a little differently. "Usually, when I go to tournaments, it's mostly boys," Kelly said.

On March 10, though, Kelly participated in the second-annual all-girl chess tournament.

The tournament drew 36 players in grades 2-6 from Canterbury Woods, Oak View, Fairview, Olde Creek and Daniel’s Run elementary schools. This year's event took place at Canterbury Woods.

Only about 10 percent of the students in chess clubs at the elementary level are girls, said Wendy Wander, an organizer of the tournament. "We’re trying to encourage more girls to sign up," she said.

The tournament allows girls of different skill and grade levels to compete against similarly skilled girls, Wander said.

Kelly explained that when boys are present, many girls are less willing to be themselves and are not as outspoken as they might be in front of the boys. With only girls around, they can be more candid and open.

None, of that, however, has dulled Kelly's drive to succeed. "I still like to win," she said.