Friday, March 8

CalChess State Scholastics History

Bay Area Chess hosts the annual CalChess State Scholastic Championships this weekend in Santa Clara. This year is the 44th edition of a tradition that started at a school, but has grown to fill several halls of a major convention center. Roughly 1200 children compete in 16 sections divided by age and chess skill. On Sunday evening, state champions will be crowned for the five Championship divisions: K-3, K-5, K-6, K-8 and K-12.

Check out the following trivia from more than three decades. Unfortunately, the records from 1976 through 1985 are not readily available.

  • First exceeded 500 players = 1997
  • First exceeded 1000 players = 2001
  • Largest turnout = 1319 in 2006
  • New sections added = Elementary K-5 section was only introduced in 2007 while Kindergarten began in 1997
  • Most High School individual titles = Vinay Bhat won 4 from 1998-2002. Three masters won 3 times: Andy McManus (1987-1990), Dmitry Zilberstein (1994-1997) and Cameron Wheeler (2013-2015).
  • Most High School team titles = 6 shared by Lowell High (1986-1994) and Saratoga High (2005-2010)
  • Youngest High School winner = 5th grader Daniel Naroditsky
  • Three 5-time champions = Vinay Bhat (K-3, K-12, K-12, K-12, K-12), Neel Apte (K-3, K-5, K-6, K-8, K-8), and Cameron Wheeler (K-5, K-6, K-12, K-12, K-12)
  • Four 4-time champions = Micah Fischer-Kirshner (K-3, K-6, K-6, K-12), Adam Lischinsky (K-3, K-3, K-8, K-12), Daniel Naroditsky (K-3, K-6, K-12, K-12), and James Kwok (K-3, K-6, K-8, K-8) 
  • Eleven 3-time champions = Andy McManus, Alan Stein, Dmitry Zilberstein, Keith Yost, Daniel Schwarz, Steven Zierk, Yian Liou, Kyle Shin, Tanuj Vasudeva, Siddharth Banik, Kevin Pan
  • Grand Slam champions = None! Must win all four of K-3, either K-5 or K-6, K-8, and K-12. Eight juniors have won 3 out of 4. 
  • Champions to become GM = Vinay Bhat, Steven Zierk, Daniel Naroditsky
  • Champions to become IM = Alan Stein, Dmitry Zilberstein, Philip Wang, Yian Liou, Vignesh Panchanatham, Cameron Wheeler, Kesav Viswanadha
  • Current US Champion Sam Shankland never won at the CalChess Scholastics. However, he became adult State Champ at age 16 (a record that was recently broken).
  • The Schism of 2005 saw the CalChess Scholastics in Oakland compete against the CalNorth Regional in San Jose on same weekend. The Regional drew over twice as many kids (906 to 397).
  • More than 20 false 9-1-1 calls from public telephones marred the 1998 edition at the Santa Clara Convention Center.
  • Kudos to the main organizers = Ray Orwig, Dr. Alan Kirshner, Richard Peterson, Dr. Salman Azhar, and Dr. Judit Sztaray

Please contact Michael Aigner with errors, omissions, or additional trivia. Many thanks to Dr. Alan Kirshner for maintaining the records from 1986 to 2011.