Friday, April 16

35th CalChess Scholastics Begin

The biggest annual chess tournament in the Bay Area, the CalChess Scholastics, began this evening with the blitz side event. After six years, the tournament returns to the premiere venue in Northern California: the Santa Clara Convention Center at Great America. Thanks to a steady trickle of last minute entrants who don't seem to mind the late fee, paid attendance now stands at 890, including a total of 267 in the five Varsity sections. Organizer Salman Azhar no doubt is pleased with more entries! Counting parents, siblings, relatives, coaches and volunteers, the crowd will approach 2000 people. If you're not there, you're really missing out on pure chess bliss!

Participants compete in one of 14 sections from 1-3 Rookie (unrated) to 9-12 Varsity. Advanced and intermediate youngsters play six rounds over two days while beginners only play one day. The elite players in the Varsity divisions play G/75 to G/90, meaning a single game can take up to three hours. There are three rounds Saturday and three more Sunday (9:00, 12:15 and 3:30 on both days). The Novice, Rookie, Kindergarten divisions play only one day each, with five rounds at G/30.

I will watch my 22 private students closely (plus another half dozen former students). Several have aspirations of winning, including three of the top four seeds in 4-6 and the top three rated players in 7-8. Historically my students have dominated the High School division, but that may not be the case this year because all five of my Masters are skipping this tournament. Some have legitimate conflicts while others don't see any benefit from playing only against much lower rated opponents. Most significantly, the Denker Qualifier was held last month with FM Steven Zierk victorious. What a shame! Perhaps one of my five students seeded between 4th and 12th can step up and hit a home run.

Here are my favorites and dark horses for each of the Varsity divisions. Current and former private students are shown in red bold.
  • 9-12 Favorites: Samuel Sevian (2133), Hayk Manvelyan (2103), Michael Brown (2068), Arthur Liou (2010). Dark horse: Daniel Liu (1982).
  • 7-8 Favorites: James Kwok (1919), Edward Li (1832), Roland Zhu (1798), Hwai-Ray Tung (1688). Dark horse: Aamir Azhar (1639).
  • 4-6 Favorites: Kyle Shin (2052), FM Tanuj Vasudeva (1863). Dark horses: Neel Apte (1802), Colin Chow (1787), Hunter Klotz-Burwell (1704), Richard Yi (1688).
  • 4-5 Favorite: Cameron Wheeler (1851). Dark horses: Jeffrey Tao (1599), Udit Iyengar (1556).
  • 1-3 Favorites: Rayan Taghizadeh (1648), Michael Wang (1473). Dark horse: Leyton Ho (1428).
The team championships should be competitive as they always are. In the Elementary divisions, 2009 national champion Mission San Jose Elementary has won most of the Varsity trophies in recent years. But this year seems to be the best opportunity for crosstown rival Weibel Elementary to steal a title. Likewise, Saratoga High has captured five straight K-12 team titles and is looking for a record sixth in a row. Can they do it, or will Mission San Jose High end the dynasty? Stay tuned!

Latest news from Santa Clara: 7th grader Michael Brown of Southern California won the 7-12 blitz and Edward Li took 2nd. Hunter Klotz-Burwell won K-6 blitz.

1 comment:

calchess said...

upload picture please