Wednesday, May 6

Saratoga High Wins 5th Straight State Title!

(Players from left to right: Charles Sun, Jeff Young, Sankash Shankar, Evan Ye, Amol Aggarwal, Brian Wai and Alex Lun hiding behind Amol.)

I wrote the following note to the Saratoga High School team yesterday and edited it for this blog. After six years, I have developed a close relationship with these kids. We traveled to many tournaments, beginning with the 2004 National Junior High School Championship in Tucson, AZ (see photo at right). Two years later, the team earned 3rd place at the 2006 National High School Championship in Milwaukee, WI! Four weeks ago, eight players and I flew to Nashville, TN for SuperNationals IV, but sadly we could only muster an 11th place result. The players came to the CalChess Scholastics hungry and eager to prove that they were still the team to beat. And they succeeded!

Dear Saratoga team,

Congratulations! You have proven yourselves worthy once again, earning a record-tying fifth straight CalChess High School team championship (Lowell High in San Francisco won five straight in early 1990s). The lead photo shows the team receiving the trophy.

You also earned six individual trophies. Kudos to Charles (4th place), Brian (7th), Evan (10th), Jeff (13th), Sankash (17th) and Alex (26th). Charles scored 4.5 points, then Brian, Evan and Jeff all had 4.0 and Sankash had 3.5. The team finished with 16.5, a full two points ahead of second place Mission High School from Fremont.

I want to single out 9th graders Brian and Evan. Math superstar Brian Wai (see photo at right) drew with top seed and defending champion FM-elect Steven Zierk in round 2 and then faced three straight experts on Sunday, drawing with all three, including the talented older brother of FM Danya Naroditsky. Evan Ye beat longtime Saratoga-killer Greg Bodwin (1878), beat a 1772 and drew with the older Naroditsky brother plus an 1823 rated 6th grader. Between the two of them, Brian and Evan combined for two upsets wins and six draws against opponents rated at least 150+ points higher! They lost only once, when Evan went down against the top seed Zierk. Nice work guys!
  • Charles (1859) = 4.5 for clear 4th place
  • Brian (1826) = 4.0 for 7th place (tied for 5th) -- drew FM-elect Zierk (2311) and A.Naroditsky (2035)
  • Evan (1659) = 4.0 for 10th place (tied for 5th) -- beat Bodwin (1878) and drew A.Naroditsky (2035)
  • Jeff (2013) = 4.0 for 13th place (tied for 5th)
  • Sankash (1532) = 3.5 for 17th place -- beat Steiner (1681)
  • Alex (1600) = 3.0 for 26th place
  • Avinash (1531) = 2.5 for 29th place
  • Amol (1239) = 2.5 for 31st place
  • Kevin* (1729) = 4.5 for 6th place (tied for 4th *in 7-8 Varsity section)
I hope this exciting performance will inspire the younger members of the team to fill the shoes of those who will graduate (plus last year's grads David and Marvin). Charles will be the lone senior next year--clearly the baton has passed to next year's sophomores. Here's your challenge: Can you keep going the tradition of the Saratoga chess dynasty?

All six team members who graduated last year or will walk in June were admitted at elite universities. Two picked my alma mater Stanford, two chose Cal while one each picked UC San Diego and Marquette (Wisconsin). Indeed, there's life after chess in high school!

Signed, your coach Fpawn

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