Newport News teen and national chess star readies for battle in Turkey
Google Abby Marshall and the word “chess” and you may be surprised by the number of hits that flash across your computer. Though just 16, the Warwick High School girl has won two national invitational girls’ chess tournaments over the past two years — and she just beat three master-ranked male opponents en route to tying for second at the U.S. Open. She ranks 21st among all American women.
Online chess journals bristle with news about Abby’s victories and in-depth reports about her games. They showcase her popular blogs from prominent tournaments and her annotations from important matches. So when Chess Femme News asked “Who is Abby Marshall?” this past July, the question was largely tongue-in-cheek. Anyone who follows the game probably recognizes the talented young woman from her frequent photographs as well as her name. They also know — as the Chess Femme writer declared — that “She’s one of a crop of young female players who is becoming a star.”
So widely known is Abby in the world of American chess that heads have started to turn whenever she walks through a tournament door. But that hasn’t distracted her from the intense daily studies and tactical practice sessions that — over the past three years — have helped raise her game to the national level.
Like most strong players pushing to the head of the pack, Abby has become a target for the equally ambitious and an increasingly significant challenge for those who have already arrived. As good as she is now, she knows, her future depends on learning to play an already difficult game smarter, harder and better.
“What could be more unnatural than sitting down and playing chess for four or five hours at a time?” she asks, describing the exhausting yet exhilarating string of wins she racked up over much higher ranked opponents at the U.S. Open.
“It may look quiet to everyone else, but one wrong move and the game is over. No wonder your heart is racing 140 beats a minute.”
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