The seniors on the Saratoga High School chess team and I were there in 2005. Four seniors are joined this year by one junior and three freshmen (see 2007 team photo at left). This year's squad of Jeff Young, Charles Sun, Brian Wai, Aaron Garg and Evan Ye will be slightly higher rated than the one that took 3rd in 2006, but still seeded only about 7th or 8th (1881 average of the top 4) in the incredibly difficult High School division--14 masters and about 45 experts at the top of a wallchart of more than 335 players. The top ranked team from Stuyvesant High School (New York City) has IM Robert Hess, who just last week earned a GM norm by winning the Spice Spring Invitational, and three experts for a whopping 2177 average. This year for the first time, Saratoga High also fields a team in the K-12 U1600 section: Alex Lun, Avinash Kumar and Sankash Shankar.
The entire Northern California delegation consists of 40 players right now, but I know of three who have not yet registered. Five more of my proteges will attend, for a total of over a dozen students. Two more are in the K-12 section and one will compete in each of the K-8, K-6 and K-5 sections. In Fremont, Mission San Jose Elementary has put together a powerful team (Jerome Sun, James Kwok, Hemang Jangle and Arman Kalyanpur) ranked tops in K-6 at 1739, nearly 200 points above the elite New York City schools. Can the California boys shock the nation and win Elementary School nationals? Finally, I received late word that 2007 National High School co-champion Michael Zhong will be attending for an encore.
I have accepted the invitation of MSJE coach Joe Lonsdale to share his big team room in Nashville. I expect many Northern California players to hang out there. The room seats about 80 but there will be only about 45 players plus their parents. I will be available to review games throughout the entire weekend.
Besides the large turnout and tough competition, the most exciting news from Nashville seems to be visits by former World Champion Garry Kasparov, Women's World Champion Alexandra Kosteniuk and a variety of other elite Grandmasters including US Champion Yury Shulman and former US Champions Alexander Shabalov and Joel Benjamin. Kasparov (see photo at right) will make four public appearances, including a book signing on Friday afternoon and playing the first move in round 1 on top board of the High School section.
- Official website
- Advance entries
- Event schedule
- Floor layout of the Opryland hotel
- Satellite view of Opryland hotel and surrounding area