Friday, June 12

Class of 2009

Congrats High School Graduates 2009!!!

(From left to right: Mike Zhong, Jeff Young and Aaron Garg.)
Update June 12: New photos of Jeff and Aaron.)

As the 2009 graduating class moves on, it is time to briefly reflect on one of the largest classes of chess players ever in Northern California. The graduating seniors include the highest rated local junior ever and five additional players who have been rated over 2000.

They also achieved many noteworthy successes over the years. Sam Shankland flew all the way to Vietnam and came home with a share of first place at the 2008 World Youth U18, thereby earning the esteemed title of International Master. Michael Zhong battled four straight teenage masters en route to a tie for first place at the 2007 National High School Championship. Jeff Young stared down IM Salvijus Bercys to help Saratoga High School earn third place at the 2006 National High School Championship. Veni, vidi, vici!

Here is a list of all of the Bay Area's chess players who are graduating from high school this month. For those whom I know, I included the university that they will attend. Please contact me if I left someone out.
  1. IM Sam Shankland 2474 - Brandeis University (Boston)
  2. Adarsh Konda 2108 - ?
  3. Mike Zhong 2092 - Columbia University (New York City)
  4. Alan Naroditsky 2058 - UCLA
  5. Jeff Young (Saratoga H.S.) 1990 - UC Berkeley
  6. Louiza Livschitz 1981 - ?
  7. Sreekar Jasthi 1905 - Emory University (Atlanta)
  8. Greg Bodwin 1882 - ?
  9. Aaron Garg (Saratoga H.S.) - Stanford University
  10. Ken Law - ?
  11. Alex Lun (Saratoga H.S.) - UC San Diego
  12. Avinash Kumar (Saratoga H.S.) - Marquette University (Milwaukee)
I had ties to almost everyone on this list. Four were private students: Jeff, Alan, Aaron and Ken. Then Alex, Avinash and Greg participated in some group classes in Saratoga. And although I never formally taught Sam and Mike, I developed friendships with both at tournaments and on ICC. Here's my brief tribute to some of the graduates.
  • Jeff, I knew you since you were in 7th grade. You have grown from 1200 to 2000, and from a scrawny kid into a confident and outgoing young man. For many years, you and David Chock were the heart and soul of the Saratoga team, climaxing with a magical result in Milwaukee. Congratulations on your engineering scholarship!
  • Alan, you amazed me by cheerfully accepting your role in your family's chess hierarchy, and yet you managed to step out of the shadows to become a star in your own right. You defied the trend of cutting back in chess during the later years of high school, despite your talent in piano and a heavy courseload at a prestigious school.
  • Aaron, I worked with you for two years but knew you much longer. You always were the genius, but in many ways a gentle giant. I can't believe you got accepted at MIT, Harvard, Yale and literally everywhere else. Go Stanford! Beat Cal!
  • Alex and Avinash, I didn't know you two as well as your teammates. You contributed to the positive chemistry that made the Saratoga team so enjoyable for everyone. From time to time, your games made us laugh, both brilliancy and blunder.

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