To follow on from an earlier report about Diana Mirza's victory at the World Schools Championships, we have an article written by Diana putting her experience in her own words and one of her games that she annotated herself which can be viewed here.
World schools u17 championships by Diana Mirza
The World School Chess Championships which was held in Iasi, Romania. I played in the U17 Girls category and I was ranked number 3 to start off with. I was really nervous for the tournament and I knew it would be tough. I knew a number of the contestants, and I had played with a few of them in tournaments before. The first seed was a girl from Kazakhstan who I had previously played in 2013 at the World Youths in the UAE, I drew to her there too.
There were 9 rounds, and I had started the tournament off with 1.5/3, losing to Russia in the 3rd round, I was completely demoralized and thought I had no chances left for a medal. But my dad encouraged me and told me that of course I still had chances. The next day I played Moldova and it was the worst game of the tournament, even though I won the game, both of us played terribly, and after that my tournament turned around, I won 3 games in a row and started getting my confidence back. The last few rounds were the most intense and the pressure was on me. In the 7th round I played the top seed who was ½ point ahead of me, so I was determined to beat her, but the game ended in a draw, then in the second last round I payed Sri lanka, and she was substantially lower rated than me (over 300 points). I was quite nervous because I knew she was underrated and I saw the results she had, she had beat the second seed and was having a really good tournament. I prepared quite a lot before the game and I ended up beating her in 18 moves! The last round was the most stressful for me because I was leading by ½ point but I was playing black in the last round against a Polish girl who again was underrated and having a brilliant tournament. I have never prepped so much for a game, I learnt off the variation and went into the game confident. I played the opening quite fast and had 1hr 35mins on the clock while she had under an hour. I thought I had messed up the theory and I started to bluff, even though the moves I made were correct. I was ahead on time and I felt I had a slightly better position, but beside me, board 2 had finished and the girl from Azerbaijan had won, which relaxed me a lot because I knew that all I needed was a draw to win the tournament. I ended up drawing in a rook endgame but I missed several chances of winning the endgame, which I am a little disappointed about and I had no excuse of not seeing the winning moves since I had 44 mins on the clock!!
The prize giving was incredible and it still hadn’t sunk in that I won, I congratulated a few of my friends on their tournament and then we waited for the ceremony to start. I was getting more and more nervous as the age categories got higher. When they were calling out the u17 Girls my heart was beating so fast, I had never felt like that before, then they called out my name and I walked up and stepped on the podium. It was surreal and really emotional. I was just so so happy, my cheeks were sore from smiling so much. Then they played Amhran na bhFiann and everyone stood up. It was one of the most incredible experiences of my life.
After I got home, I started getting so many messages from so many people, even the president of Ireland had tweeted!! It was all so crazy!! I had never gotten so much recognition it was just unbelievable and overwhelming.
Thank you so much to everyone for the immense support and I am so grateful to all my friends and family and I am appreciative of the opportunity for playing in this tournament in the first place.