Saturday, May 31

Upsets Reign at High School (9-12) States

(The four c
o-champions of the High School division, from left to right, Boglarka Erdos, FM Daniel Naroditsky, Steven Zierk and Jeff Young.)

The premier section of the annual CalChess Scholastics was the 9-12 Varsity, better known as the High School Championship. Most of Northern California's juniors rated above 2000, regardless of their age, tested themselves in the second strongest scholastic swiss in the nation, behind only the National High School Championship. In recent years, the High School division included as many as four masters, but this time three of the four top players were unable to participate due to a variety of different reasons. The top rated local junior, NM Sam Shankland, spent the weekend playing on a bigger stage in Oklahoma: the US Championship. Despite these absences, defending champion FM Daniel Naroditsky headlined a competitive field of one master and seven experts.

The story of the tournament was the parade of upsets that began as early as round 1. Here is a list of wins on Saturday by lower rated players against opponents rated 1800+.
  • Avinash Kumar (1576) defeated FM Daniel Naroditsky (2322) in round 1
  • Kevin Bao (1230) defeated Arnav Shah (1837) in round 1
  • Marvin Shu (1804) defeated Michael Zhong (2072) in round 2
  • Greg Bodwin (1752) defeated Jeff Young (1980) in round 2
  • Rebekah Liu (1699) defeated Charles Sun (1888) in round 2
  • Minjian Wang (1611) defeated Daniel Quan (1893) in round 2
  • Brandon Lee (1464) defeated Daniel Quan (1893) in round 3
There were, of course, a number of upset draws as well. Normalcy returned for Sunday's three rounds, but by then the lower rated players had left their mark on the championship.

Six players escaped the upset parade with a perfect 3-0 score on Saturday night: Steven Zierk, Boglarka Erdos, Adarsh Konda, Rohan Agarwal, Evan Sandberg and Sreekar Jasthi. Evan and Sreekar were voted off the island in the morning round on Sunday while Rohan and Adarsh suffered their expected fate later in the day against the upset yet determined World U12 Champion. That left two players tied at 4.5 out of 5 to compete for the top honors in the final round: Boglarka against Steven. Their hard fought draw opened the door to Daniel Naroditsky and Jeff Young, who both had lost badly in the first two rounds, to join them in a 4-way tie for 1st place. I am especially proud to point out that, excluding one foreign player, the three High School co-champions are all my students!
  • Boglarka Erdos (2071 FIDE) came to California on a vacation paid for as a prize for winning a girl's championship in her native Hungary. She took the 1st place trophy by yielding only two draws to 2100+ rated opponents.
  • Steven Zierk (2145) won the Junior High last year and moved up to the big boys. This was his third state title, having also won K-3 back in 2001. Steven will represent CalChess at the Denker Tournament of High School Champions in Dallas this August.
  • FM Daniel Naroditsky (2307) successfully defended the title that he won last year, yet his performance was a bit shaky with the major upset in round 1. This was his fourth state title, having also won K-3 in 2004 and K-6 in 2005.
  • Jeff Young (1978) became just the second player rated under 2000 to win or tie for 1st place in the High School division since 1990. He will ascend to the top board for the powerful team at Saratoga High School next year.
Final Standings of 9-12 Varsity
  1. 5.0 Boglarka Erdos (2142) -- 1 year ICC extension
  2. 5.0 Steven Zierk (2155) -- qualified for Denker Tournament
  3. 5.0 Daniel Naroditsky (2322) -- 1 year ICC extension
  4. 5.0 Jeff Young (1980)
  5. 4.5 Rohan Agarwal (2118)
  6. 4.5 Adarsh Konda (2123)
  7. 4.5 Alan Naroditsky (2029)
  8. 4.0 Sreekar Jasthi (1901)
  9. 4.0 Greg Bodwin (1752)
  10. 4.0 Evan Sandberg (1955)
Without quite as much adventure or fanfare, the Saratoga High School team captured its fourth straight High School Championship. It has been a real pleasure for me to work with the nucleus of this team over the past 4+ years (see photo from 2004 at bottom right), achieving success at both the state and national level (3rd place at National High School in 2006). Congratulations to the following team members: Jeff Young (5.0), Marvin Shu (4.0), Charles Sun (4.0), Aaron Garg (4.0), David Chock (4.0), Alex Lun (3.0), Avinash Kumar (3.0) and Amol Aggarwal (1.0). I offer a final round of applause to All Star top board David (see photo at bottom center) and his teammate Marvin, who will graduate in a couple of weeks after playing chess together since elementary school.

No comments: