Dyhemia Young at Polgar Invitational

Dyhemia Young has overcome many hardships, but beams at the chance to play in the Polgar Invitational. Photo by Sheila George.

With the story of Vanita Young of Philadelphia already fresh in the news, Dyhemia Young (unrelated) will be joining her at the Polgar Invitational in Lubbock, Texas. While the stories are not to be compared, both highlight the role that chess can sometimes play in helping to transform lives. Adisa Banjoko, founder of the Hip-Hop Chess Federation (HHCF), had told Daaim Shabazz of The Chess Drum the story during a phone conversation. In an exasperated tone, he described the anguish in Dyhemia’s life as “craaazy”.

Dyhemia Young’s story is one of the stories we often hear associated with hard-scrabble cities in America. Young’s story caught the attention of Susan Polgar who learned about Dyhamia through the Hip-Hop Chess Federation and granted her a “wild card” invitation. However, things had turned sour for the 15-year old who went missing. Trying feverishly to find her, Banjoko went onto Facebook and to John O’Connell High School to track her down. No success. Finally a Google search by Lisa Suhay (HHCF-East Coast) lead them to a “missing person” log where a particular 13-year old girl had been previously listed. This was Dyhemia.

That lead the search to the San Francisco Police Deparment. It turns out that Dyhemia had been in and out of foster homes for three years and was finally found at the East Palo Alto Teen Home on June 30th. This is a revelation since Dyhemia made the admission, “Chess kept me going. It kept me motivated and kept me trying,” said the attractive young lady with sharp features.

Banjoko told The Chess Drum that the bulk of the money had been raised, but they are trying to raise the last amount for her to travel to Lubbock. There have been many besides the Hip-Hop Chess Federation to aid Dyhemia. FedEx Corporation is handling the airfare and a donation and show of support was given by Rener Gracie of the Jupiter Jiu Jitsu Academy. Rakaa Iriscience has also pitched in.

Banjoko told The Chess Drum that Dyhemia was concerned about losing her games, but he told her not to worry and this knowing that in the end this could be a life-altering or life-changing experience. It may even provide her with a path to college! All the best Dyhemia!

Read Maria Laganga’s article on Dyhemia Young.

Videos of Support for Dyhemia Young


  1. This is beautiful and great! Dyhemia Young, I’ve learned that you don’t always have to win in order to feel good about yourself, though of course it helps out so much when you do! Just do your best, hang in there and keep on keeping on! What doesn’t kill you, only makes you stronger! That’s the truth, Ruth. This is coming from the horses mouth. Chess is a game that has guided many, and as you can probably already see, it’s helping to guide you too. You never stop learning in chess, just like in life. HONOR, INTEGRITY AND HONESTY are some of the best qualities of a human being and with them it will make you a better person, on the outside and the inside! One more thing. If you are in school, please stay in school because school gives you the basics! The tools, which are the keys to success in basically everything you do! Probably without it, there wouldn’t be a TheChessDrum.Net, just ask Daaim Shabazz! ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Photos from 2011 Susan Polgar Girls’ Invitational
    (Texas Tech University… Lubbock, Texas)
    Photos by FM Paul Truong.

    Dyhemia Young on the campus of Texas Tech!

    Dyhemia with fellow SPGI participants Vanita Young (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) and Diamond Shakoor (Columbus, Ohio) plus Susan Polgar and Vanita Young’s coach, David Miller.

    Participants of the 2011 Polgar Invitational

  3. It was a pleasure to meet and spend time with Dyhemia last week in Texas. She truly lights up a room when she walks in. Chess has opened doors to this young lady. 1). Attracting the attention of such world renown people as Susan Polgar &, Will & Jada Smith.
    2). Meeting and competing with 44 of the top females from each state. She left there with many new positive friends and 3). Winning the $40,000 scholarship has truly got her thinking about college!

  4. Dyhemia at Polgar Invitational
    (Photos by FM Paul Truong)

    Diamond Shakoor and her “big sister” Dyhemia Young. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Dyhemia Young in deep thought.

    Dyhemia analyzing with Abdul Abdus-Shakoor.

    Susan Polgar with Dyhemia showing a gift from The Chess Drum!

    Texas Tech scholarship winners

    Susan Polgar with scholarship winners, Dyhemia Young, Cheryl Liu and Vanita Young. Sneha Chikkala also received the honor, but is not pictured.

  5. I, dyhemia young, is very thankful and happy for my journey. There was alit of bad with the good but I will never back down from a challenge. I am the chess Cinderella, here saying dyhia young lives on.. With or with support.

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