I watched the 7-8 Varsity section of the CalChess Scholastics closely for two reasons: quite a few of my students were playing and I saw no single clear favorite to win. In fact, I thought any one of the top six seeds, all rated above 1800, had a reasonable chance to climb to the top. Of course, I wished that one of my students would become champion, but without a doubt, the two most deserving players took the top honors.
Congratulations to Mukund Chillakanti and Isaac Zhang for winning five games and drawing only with each other. Mukund gained over 100 rating points in the past two months, highlighted by a 2075 performance at the National High School Championship with an impressive pair of wins against experts. On the other hand, Isaac has been a terror at the Sacramento Chess Club, winning nearly every adult honor possible, including Player of the Year. Honorable mention goes to Isaac's friend, Ted Xiao, who earned the 3rd place trophy by defeating two of the three highest seeds while losing only to Mukund.
Final Standings of 7-8 Varsity
- 5.5 Mukund Chillakanti (1917) -- $50 gift certificate
- 5.5 Isaac Zhang (1923) -- 1 year ICC extension
- 5.0 Ted Xiao (1740) -- 1 year ICC extension
- 5.0 Puneeth Gadangi (1656)
- 5.0 Andrew Chen (1722)
- 4.5 Sam Bekker (1911)
- 4.5 Andrew Yeh (1847)
- 4.5 Rahul Desirazu (1664)
- 4.5 Vincent Tian (1674)
- 4.5 Brian Wai (1690)
Finally, organizer Salman Azhar accurately commented at the awards ceremony that many of these players are friends off the chess board. They really love to goof off, as demonstrated in this blog post and the middle of the three photos below.