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).
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.