The 2012 National Junior High School Chess Championship is underway at the Town and Country Resort in San Diego. Players compete for national titles in both K-9 and K-8 sections. There are ten rated masters in attendance--nine in the much stronger K-9 division. The overall turnout seems disappointingly light at only about 650 kids, owing both to the weak economy and the location at one corner of the country. People complained about the attendance of nearly 1000 at the same tournament in Sacramento in 2007. This year, a modest local delegation of 64 players traveled south, a week after 840 youngsters descended on Santa Clara for the CalChess Scholastics.
I don't expect to find many chess tourists in San Diego, certainly not among Bay Area kids. In fact, seven are rated over 2000, led by newly minted master Cameron Wheeler (photo at left). Fielding four of the top eight seeds, including Cameron and two-time CalChess 6-8 winner Neel Apte (photo on right), Kennedy Middle School from Cupertino plans to Occupy San Diego. Can they pull off national honors, both as individuals and as a team? I believe!!
However, national attention will focus on Intermediate School 318, an inner-city Brooklyn public middle school that took 1st place at the National High School Championship two weeks ago. As a reward, World #1 Magnus Carlsen (see photo below) visited their school on Monday! Readers may be disappointed that the top players of I.S. 318, including two masters above 2300, switched from K-8 to K-9 at the last moment. Did the High School champs duck the challenge from 2136 average rated Kennedy? Maybe!! They probably hoped to split their masters and win both sections, just like last year, but coach Elizabeth Spiegel realized that she would need her team's full strength 2162 rated lineup just to win K-8. While K-9 is more competitive with nine masters at the top, the Brooklyn team has a much easier path to victory.
Cameron's blog for a first-hand account and Chess Life Online for a TV news report.
Northern California Watch List (after round 2 of 7)
- Colin Chow 2.0
- Vignesh Panchanatham 1.5
- Hemang Jangle 1.5 - draw with master
- Taylor McCreary 1.0
- I.S. 318 TEAM 8.0/8 (Next best teams have 5.5.)
- Kesav Viswanadha (Kennedy) 2.0
- Cameron Wheeler (Kennedy) 2.0
- Neel Apte (Kennedy) 2.0
- Udit Iyengar (Kennedy) 2.0
- Allan Beilin 2.0
- Art Zhao 2.0
- Gabriel Bick 2.0
- Naveen Janarthanan 2.0
- Pranav Srihari (Kennedy) 2.0
- Michael L. Wang 2.0
- Vikram Vasan 1.5
- Daniel Ho 1.5
- KENNEDY M.S. TEAM 8.0/8 (I.S. 318 is 2nd, but way back at 5.5.)