WCM Claudia Munoz

There are many things from which a person can extract motivation in order to excel in chess. Unknown to only a few (well not anymore once I post this article) there is one sports team outside of chess that inspires me to never give up regardless of what I face on or out of the chessboard. The name of this sports team is the Boston Red Sox (a professional baseball team for my followers outside the U.S.)


It had to do with my upbringing as a child and teenager (I am now 18 years old). My parents really did a good job of safeguarding what I saw on T.V. and in movies. Usually before a major chess tournament my father (chess coach) would always show me a motivational sports movie or documentary that he knew would inspire me. Most of these documentaries or movies had to do with the ‘David vs. Goliath’ scenario.

In 2011, I was scheduled to play in the Pan American Youth Chess Championship in Colombia. A week prior to the event I was supposed to play in the North American Youth Chess Championship in New York so from Texas to NYC to Colombia we racked up some air miles.  A week before these two tournaments my dad sat me in front of a computer in order to watch the ESPN Sports Documentary ‘Four Days in October’

This video was about the Red Sox’s American League Championship vs. the New York Yankees. Ever since Babe Ruth was traded from Boston to the Yankees in the early 20th Century, the infamous legend of the ‘Curse of the Bambino’ was created. For 86 years the Red Sox had not won a World Series and being down 3-0 in the Conference Series, they needed a miracle to come back from behind 4 games in a row to reach the World Series.

‘WHY NOT US?’ was the motivational slogan used in that series that fueled the Red Sox to overcome such an enormous task. That slogan impacted me during the 2011 Pan American Youth Championship in Colombia.

I had a poor performance in the first four rounds of the nine round international tournament. In the 11 years I have been playing chess, my father has been my coach for 10.5 years. Six months prior he had hired another coach and simply removed himself so that Master could do his job effectively. But after a draw with Mexico’s Elvira Alarcon, my father said he had to return to salvage the remaining rounds. He saw that my intensity was simply not there and after a one hour SKYPE session where he simply asked me question after question about games in the past where I had come from behind to win, I suddenly began to believe in me once again.

‘WHY NOT ME?’ I asked myself.

I won the 5th round.

I won the 6th round.

I won the 7th round.

I won the 8th round.

By the 9th and final round I was on board 1 in a field with over 100 girls in the U-14 category (I was 13 years old).  I was to face the official representative of Peru. In play was the Woman FIDE Master Title and a silver medal for the United States.

I am sorry that I cannot say that I won the final round, I lost and finished in 8th place but I learned that chess knowledge is one thing and personal belief in one’s TALENT is another. Chess is truly a mental sport. Once I changed my mind frame the rest followed. If I had played with the same intensity in the first four rounds today I would have a medal from that tournament.

I have so many stories to share since that tournament in 2011, in some tournaments I simply went undefeated, in others I came from ‘behind’ to win them but one thing is for sure – the 2004 Red Sox set a gold standard for me in my chess play.

By the way, who is my favorite Red Sox player?

Number #34 David Ortiz A.K.A. ‘Big Papi’

If he is reading this, which I sincerely doubt it, thanks for you example of tenacity and winning mentality. I also tell myself when I compete, ‘WHY NOT ME?’ and then I give the best that I have.

About Myself:

I was the 2014 U.S. Girls Closed Chess Champion and the official representative of the U.S. to the U-20 World Junior Championships in India. Among numerous achievements, I have represented the United States in eight countries in Europe, Latin America and Southwest Asia. I earned the FIDE Woman Candidate Master title in the 2007 North American Youth Chess Championship in Aguascalientes, Mexico when I was 9-years old. My peak USCF rating is 2106. My bilingual chess website has over 2.7 million hits. I am also very active in social media both in Facebook & Twitter @chesscampeona where I have a combined 10,000 followers.