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Monday, July 19, 1999





Melanie Makaipo will represent Hawaii in the
Denker Tournament of High School Champions



Chess whiz
looks to Reno

Hawaii's state champion will compete
next month in the Nevada tourney

By Dawn D. Sagario
Star-Bulletin

Tapa

She was told that the grand masters of chess could play entire games -- complete with strategy and moves -- all in their heads.

"When I heard that, I was like, "What?' " said 17-year-old Melanie Makaipo, winner of the 1999 Hawaii State Scholastic Championship. "I didn't think it was possible, I couldn't believe it."

But Makaipo, the first female in Hawaii ever to win the tournament, became a believer when games began playing themselves out in her mind while she slept.

"It was always chess on the brain," she said.

"I used to dream games and play the game in my mind."

The Hanalani School honor student from Makakilo flies to Reno, Nev., on Aug. 13 to represent Hawaii in the Denker Tournament of High School Champions.

The invitation came after winning the state tournament May 15 at Punahou School.

About 40 teens are expected to participate in the annual event in Nevada.

In the male-dominated game of chess, it's atypical to see a female in the sport, said Guy Ontai, who headed the championship.

"She was a pretty remarkable young lady from the start," Ontai said. "What makes her remarkable is that she's so strong. She's always been one of the strongest high school players, boy or girl. She's always been a contender."

Makaipo has been playing chess competitively for the past two years.

"It's the intellect in the game, not the sex," she said.

"It doesn't take muscle or anything,'she said.

"The boys used to say, " 'I can't believe you got beat by a girl.'

"But now you see a couple more girls and I don't hear it at all anymore."

After placing third last year in the high school division, Makaipo was set on capturing first this year, said her mother, Clara.

"She was very passionate about setting her goals for that,"she said.

Makaipo will be traveling to Reno next month with her mother and 11-year-old brother Kevin, who is also an avid fan of the game.

"I can't wait because to see tons of other kids who have the same passion for chess play will be inspirational."



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