Wednesday, June 8, 2016

QK AGENT ROUND: 10. Play Chess, Not Checkers, MG Historical

Title: The Chess Girl
Entry Nickname: Play Chess Not Checkers
Word count: 66K
Genre: MG Historical Fiction


To win her family’s freedom, Ruchel must play the greatest chess match ever.

As World War 1 begins, 7 year old Ruchel’s father is forced into the Austrian Army just before the Russian Army invades her border town.   To survive, her mother opens a tiny cafe.  Business is terrible until Ruchel challenges and defeats a customer in a chess match.   Soon, the restaurant is packed with people coming to watch her play.

Ruchel hopes to use her newfound celebrity to discover what’s happened to her father, who’s been missing in action since the war began.  Unfortunately, as different armies take turns occupying her hometown, it’s all she can do to help keep her family from starving.

When civil war breaks out and both sides start hunting Jews, Ruchel must beat a Polish chess champion to win her family a chance at a new life in America.  

The Chess Girl is based on my Grandmother’s life growing up in what is now part of the Ukraine.  It is interwoven with stories of how she and her siblings survived WWI and how all but one of them escaped to the United States before the Holocaust.

First 250 Words:

Poland - 1919

Ruchel’s opponent carefully pushed his knight forward then left using the two fingers remaining on his right hand.  He nodded to Ruchel as he pulled the hand back.  The burned side of his face remained frozen, as did the milky white eye sunken within, but the other side of his mouth tried to turn upward.  

Once Ruchel would have felt both pity and horror at his appearance, but she’d seen so many ruined men in the last couple of years.  Besides, the stakes were too high.   The fat constable by the window kept playing with the holster around his waist, grunting every so often in case she hadn’t noticed him.   “Pig,” she mumbled in Yiddish. 

She looked away.  If he realized what she’d said, it wouldn’t matter who won this game.   Fortunately, he was focused on the Jewish shopkeeper across the street struggling to remount his store’s smashed in window frame.  The grin on his face made her say pig again, but this time only to herself.

She looked back at the board, started to reach for a piece then stopped. She liked to play fast to force her opponents into mistakes trying to match her speed, but she wasn’t at home and there would be no second chances.  Whatever the damage to the old soldier’s body, it hadn’t taken his skill.  She’d only played two men this good and been crushed both times.  

She was already down a pawn and the shadow hovering behind her wasn’t helping.


  1. Id like to use my wild card and request the first 50 pages! Please send them to with "Kristy Hunter: #QueryKombat Requested Materials" in the subject line.

  2. I'd love to see more of this! Please send pages attached to the email to: rena (at) thedeborahharrisagency (dot) com
    - Rena Rossner

  3. I would love a chance to take a look. Please feel free to send first 3 chapters and query along with the synopsis to #QueryKombat Requested Materials" in the subject line. Thanks! And good luck :)

  4. *Wild Card* I would like to request the full manuscript! Please send the MS to Use email subject: #QueryKombat-THE CHESS GIRL-MG
    Looking forward to reviewing your story.

  5. I would like to use my Wild Card on this! Please send the full to queries at azantianlitagency dot com along with a 1-2 page synopsis. An attached word doc works best. Also, please use QueryKombat in the subject line. I look forward to reading!

    I'd love to see more! Please send your query and synopsis in the email body and the full manuscript as a word doc to And if you wouldn't mind, please include your query letter on the first page of the doc as well.


  7. Yes, please! Please send to and put Query Kombat in the subject line. Thanks so much!

  8. Uwe Stender would like to see pages from this entry! Please put Query Kombat Material and your title in the subject line.