Saturday, December 13

National Grade Level in Florida This Weekend

(I know at least one young chess player who will no doubt be spending time at the pool in Florida, even in the middle of December. Have fun Kyle!)

The 2008-09 scholastic national championships kicked off yesterday at a beautiful resort in Lake Buena Vista, Florida--near the magical theme parks of Disney World. The 1250 young chess enthusiasts attending the National K-12 Chess Championships are divided into 13 sections ranging from Kindergarten to 12th grade; each player only faces opponents in the same grade. Since the field is diluted across so many sections, most of the older and higher rated juniors skip this event due to lack of competition. Nonetheless, the entries are impressive. The top seeds from around the country include talented names such as IM Marc Tyler Arnold and NM Alexander Heimann, both in 10th grade; Andrew Ng in 9th; Ryan Moon in 8th; Jarod Pamatmat in 6th; Christopher Wu in 4th; and Jonathan Chiang in 3rd.

Some of the top boards are being broadcast live on the MonRoi website. For complete results and pairings, please check the official website.

Despite the long flight, a total of 11 elementary school age players and their parents made the trip from Northern California to Florida. Four of these players just won the CalChess Grade Level Championships in Stockton a week ago. Now they're shooting for the stars. The scores below are after three rounds. There are two more rounds today (Saturday) with the final two on Sunday. Please join me in wishing all local players good luck! Hopefully they can bring home some nice trophies.
  • Kindergarten: Arun Khemani (CalChess Champion) 2.0 and Lindsey Canessa 1.0
  • 1st Grade: Rayan Taghizadeh (CalChess Champion) 2.0
  • 2nd Grade: John Canessa (CalChess Champion) 3.0
  • 3rd Grade: Cameron Wheeler (CalChess Champion) 3.0; Art Zhao and Alvin Kong both 2.0
  • 5th Grade: Kyle Shin (photo at right) 3.0 and Maadhav Shah 1.0
Update on Saturday afternoon: Cameron and Kyle are both 4-0. Round 5 is on Saturday at 6pm Eastern, 3pm Pacific.

Rob Wheeler, the father of Cameron, wrote the following in an email to friends yesterday evening: "We had a pretty uneventful flight out to Florida. After settling in, we took the kids to Downtown Disney for a bite, then it was off to bed. We had a lazy morning and explored a bit before Cam's first round at 1pm." After Cameron won the first two rounds easily, his father explained: "It looks like round 3 should be against an 1100. If all goes well, things start to get interesting in rounds 4&5. There are 4 boys 1800+ and 3 more in the 1600s." Amazing! Four 1800 rated 3rd graders in one tournament. Welcome to the big show and good luck!

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