A lot of factors went into the selection of Aria Hoesley as Illinois' selection to the 2017 Susan Polgar Foundation Girls Invitational completed July 27 at Webster University in St. Louis.

The Chicago player -- and World Youth qualifier -- was not the highest-rated qualified female from Illinois but she had scored very well at the Illinois Youth Invitational held earlier in the year. That event wound up qualifying Marissa Li as the Illinois representative to the National All-Girls beginning this weekend in Virginia.

Ultimately, Illinois could not have asked for better representation at the Polgar event as Aria finished 4.0/6 -- including a perfect 3.0/3 score as white. 

Only players with 2000-plus ratings scored higher than Ms. Hoesley -- and she in turn finished higher than 16 players who had higher pre-event ratings.

Airia closed out the weeklong event with a win as black against WCM Ambica Yellamraju of Texas.

That placed Aria in a tie for 10th (to 17th place) with the same score as the two highest pre-event qualifiers: FM Qiyu Zhou and WIM Maili-Jade Ouellet, both of Quebec, Canada. Technically on tiebreaks, Aria was 15th in the field of 68 entrants. (Ouellet won the blitz competition and was one-half the bughouse championship team).

The event was won by WFM Nattassja Matus of Minnesota with WCM Thalia Cervantes as one of the three runners up. Both Matus and Cervantes frequently play large Chicago-area events.

Aria was also a perfect 20-for-20 in the puzzle solving contest --- finishing with the tenth-best time among the 20/20's.  No doubt she was right up there in the competition for "best dressed" and "Ms. Congeniality" -- and we hope she shares with the ICA website her entry for the "best written essay about the SPFGI experience".

All totalled, over $110,000 in scholarships and cash prizes were distributed by the SPFGI.

The ICA wishes to thank Aria for being such a remarkable ambassador for Illinois chess -- and thank her father, John, for taking the week off to accompany her to Missouri. John was very excited that his daughter was receiving a chance to meet her own chess heroine, and the ICA was happy to accommodate with her selection.