Saturday, June 11

Chess Students Head Off To College

All smiles on graduation day.


















For almost two decades, I have been blessed with the opportunity to coach some of the brightest young minds in Northern California.  Simply spoken, smart children play chess, and chess offers a competitive arena to exercise their brain muscles.  Of course, I always knew my students had the cerebral skill to excel.  And every June, it seems that the graduates move on to some of the best colleges in America.  Well done mates!

The High School graduating Classes of 2015 and 2016 included more than a dozen of my former chess trainees, four who achieved the master level.  Their college choices were, quite literally, all over the map.  Six preferred the short commute to Berkeley, Stanford, UC Santa Cruz and San Jose State.  Another signed up for the short flight to UC Irvine.  The remaining students apparently wanted to get away from home--far, far away.  They enrolled at MIT, New York University, Carnegie Mellon, Wesleyan, U Mass and Washington University (Saint Louis).  Quite a list, I dare say!  

The following list shows the universities all around the country where 51 of my former chess students enrolled at (includes incoming freshmen)Two prominent Bay Area schools top of the list.  Roughly 2/3 stayed close to home, choosing to study at one of a dozen California schools.  If it is not the nice weather, then it must be the worldwide acclaim of the University of California.  Indeed, my list includes 7 of the 9 undergraduate UC campuses.   

  • 14 = UC Berkeley
  • 6 = Stanford 
  • 3 = MIT and UC San Diego
  • 2 = Duke, Carnegie Mellon, NYU, UCLA and UC Santa Cruz  
  • 1 = Cambridge (UK), Yale, Wesleyan, UMass, Rutgers, Northwestern, Washington (StL), Caltech, Pomona, UC Davis, UC Irvine, UC Santa Barbara, Pacific, San Jose State and Puget Sound

Note: The above list only includes undergraduate institutions and not graduate schools.

Tuesday, May 17

CalChess Denker and Barber Qualifiers

NM Michael Wang (credit: @USChess)

Near the end of yet another school year, many students look forward to a relaxing summer vacation.  For two local  chess juniors, this summer includes a trip to Indianapolis to represent Northern California at the Denker and Barber Invitationals from July 30 to August 2.  After five competitive rounds over two days, the results are in.

The Denker Qualifier (grades 9-12 only) saw 5 masters and 4 experts battle for the ticket to Indy.  Half of the games were drawn and all but one of the masters finished undefeated.  Nonetheless, one player managed to separate himself from the field to take clear first.  Congratulations to 9th grader NM Michael Wang for a strong performance!

The Barber Qualifier (grades K-8) attracted 27 enthusiastic and talented participants, including a trio of masters.  Alas, all three masters tasted defeat on the first day (rounds 1-3) and were out of contention.  In the final round, a 5th grader faced a 3rd grader for all the marbles.  The game ended in a draw, allowing 5th grader Balaji Daggupati to claim clear first.  Well done!

The Denker Invitational began in 1985, with each state naming one High School representative (Northern and Southern California are considered separate states).  The Barber Invitational for K-8 started in 2011.  Thanks to the late GM Arnold Denker, his family and Dewain Barber for sponsoring and organizing these two national championships.

Best of luck to Michael and Balaji in Indy!

CalChess Denker and Barber Participants

  • 2016: Michael Wang --------------------- Balaji Daggupati
  • 2015: Vignesh Panchanatham ---------- Rayan Taghizadeh
  • 2014: Colin Chow -------------------------- Siddharth Banik
  • 2013: Hunter Klotz-Burwell --------------- Vignesh Panchanatham (co-champion!
  • 2012: Sudarshan Seshadri --------------- Udit Iyengar
  • 2011: Nicholas Karas ---------------------- Neel Apte
  • 2010: Steven Zierk (champion!)   
  • 2009: Evan Sandberg   
  • 2008: Steven Zierk   
  • Balaji Daggupati
  • 2007: Nicolas Yap   
  • 2006: Daniel Schwarz   
  • 2005: Nicolas Yap   
  • 2004: Benjamin Tejes   
  • 2003: Monty Peckham   
  • 2002: Benjamin Haun   
  • 2001: none
  • 2000: Micah Fisher-Kirshner   
  • 1999: Vinay Bhat   
  • 1998: Vinay Bhat   
  • 1997: Dmitry Zilberstein   
  • 1996: Dmitry Zilberstein   
  • 1995: Adrian Keating-Clay   
  • 1995: Jennie Frenklakh (extra player)   
  • 1994: Dmitry Zilberstein (champion!)   
  • 1993: Peter Lee   
  • 1992: Adrian Keating-Clay   
  • 1991: Alan Stein (champion!)    
  • 1990: Andrew McManus   
  • 1989: Andrew McManus   
  • 1988: Kash Patel   
  • 1987: Andrew McManus   
  • 1986: Peter Yu   
  • 1985: none

Play Team 45 45 on ICC This Summer


The Team 45 45 League on the Internet Chess Club is accepting signups for a new tournament! Every participant plays one game each week for 6 weeks (plus playoffs) against different opponents at a mutually negotiated time. The time control is 45 minutes plus a 45 second increment for every move; thus, a typical game lasts 2-3 hours. The league, which has been active on ICC for over 15 years, offers sections at 200 rating point intervals, allowing everyone the opportunity to play near their own rating.  There is no cost to join the league, but ICC membership is required.  You also must first obtain a non-provisional ICC standard rating based on at least 20 games.

I have played in Team 4545 off and on for a decade, and I also volunteer as a TD. Over the years, many of my students have played in the league for tournament practice! Many Bay Area youngsters play on ICC and in the league. Highly recommended and fun to play!

Don't try this at home!
Before joining, please carefully read the Quick Guide and Player Handbook. The league has some strict rules that require a modest degree of personal responsibility.  You have 7 days to play each round.  While negotiating a time to play, it helps to be a little flexible in your availability, either after work or school on several days of the week, or on most weekends. If you're busy at a big weekend tournament, or out of town on vacation, you may wish to ask your captain to sit out that week. Please contact me with further questions.

T69 Schedule 
  • Team Entries Open May 17
  • Team Entries Close May 31
  • Round 1 Begins on June7
  • End of Round 6 on July 19
  • Playoffs Begin July 26

Warning: The league administration takes computer cheating very seriously, and a Computer Use committee carefully checks all games against chess engines.

Wednesday, May 11

Schutt Blitz at Mechanics on Sunday

GM Walter Browne versus the fpawn at the 2011 Schutt Memorial (photo by Shorman). We
battled many times over the years, notably in the last round at the 2007 US Championship
in Oklahoma, his final game in a championship that he won 6 times. My final pairing with
Mr. 6 Time came at the 2013 Schutt Memorial, when I managed a draw in two games. To
me, Walter Browne was the embodiment of the art we call blitz chess. RIP


For the past decade, the Ray Schutt Memorial has consistently been the strongest and most popular blitz tournaments in the Bay Area.  The last four years saw an average of 50 players, including many masters (17 last year) with several Grandmasters and International Masters.

The winners have included some of the strongest masters in California.  Stanford freshman GM Daniel Naroditsky finished on top in four of the past five years, including clear first in both 2014 and 2015.  Two other Grandmasters have won: Melik Khachiyan and the late Walter Browne.  Three lesser titled players have also won: IM Ricardo DeGuzman, FM Yian Liou (now an IM) and FM Andy Lee.

Naroditsky plans to defend his title against all-comers young and old.  Challengers will include Grandmasters Cristian Chirila and Patrick Wolff plus several International Masters.  And with some luck, there will even be an fpawn sighting!!?  Will you be there?



10th Ray Schutt Memorial Blitz 
Sunday, May 15
Location: 57 Post Street, San Francisco (use Montgomery BART)
 
FORMAT: Six double-round Swiss (12 games total)

TIME CONTROL: G/4 + inc/2
(bring your digital clock)

ENTRY FEE: $10 (free for GM / IM / WGM / WIM)
This tournament is NOT rated. 

PRIZES: $1025 total
1st place: $400
2nd place: $250
3rd place: $150
4th place: $100
5th place: $75
6th place $50

Prizes are guaranteed by the generosity of the Schutt family.  In addition, every player takes home a book prize!

REGISTRATION: On-site only from Noon to 12:45.


There will be no registration in advance. No phone entries.  The tournament will be held between roughly 1 and 4 PM.  Light refreshments courtesy of the Schutt family. Even if you don't play, please come and enjoy the atmosphere as a tribute to the popular 2300 rated master.

Tuesday, May 10

Top Juniors in the World Born Since 2000


An interesting chess fact for today.  

The top four rated juniors in the World born since January 1, 2000 all represent the USA.  Grandmasters Jeffery Xiong and Sam Sevian, both now rated over 2600 FIDE, clearly comprise the class of the millennium to date.  How far can they go? 

Also surprising is that three of the next five represent Iran.  Watch out for the untitled Alireza Firouzja, who earned his second IM norm by winning his national championship in January.  He is just 13, two years younger than anyone else on this list.

Finally, note that only one Russian junior managed to squeeze into this Top 10, and nobody from traditional youth powers India and China. 

Data obtained from the 2700chess website and based on the May 2016 FIDE rating list.

MSJE Repeats as National Champions

The Mission San Jose K-6 National Champions pose with Coach Joe Lonsdale in the back.

Kudos to Mission San Jose Elementary for winning US Chess K-6 Nationals for consecutive years and the third time in the past four years!  The school fielded competitive teams in all four championship divisions in Nashville, finishing Top 5 in three.  Simply said, major props to Coach Joseph Lonsdale and his large group of enthusiastic and talented kids!  Repeated success at states and nationals over so many years speaks for itself.

The following list shows Northern California trophy winners at Elementary Nationals.

  • MSJE (Fremont) school team = 1st in K-6, 5th in K-5, 4th in K-3 and 9th in K-1
  • Weibel (Fremont) school team = 5th in K-6, 13th in K-5

  • Rishith Susarla (MSJE) 9th in K-6 
  • Kevin Pan (MSJE) 20th in K-6
  • William Sartorio 5th in K-5
  • Milind Maiti 12th in K-5
  • Shree Jay (MSJE) 2nd U1200 in K-5
  • Adrian Kondakov 20th in K-3
  • Christopher Yoo 23rd in K-3
  • Sriram Krishnakumar 26th in K-3
  • Siddharth Arutla (MSJE) 1st U600 in K-3 
  • Nitish Nash 16th in K-1
  • Jason Liu (MSJE) 32nd in K-1

Monday, May 9

Panchanatham Leads Harker to Victory


National High School Champions from The Harker School.
Top board FM Panchanatham at left. (credit: Greg Shahade)

This post comes about five weeks too late.  As they say, better late than never.

Congratulations to The Harker School for winning the National High School Championship in Atlanta, and to their top board FM Vignesh Panchanatham for earning first place on tiebreaks in the individual standings!  Local rival IM Kesav Viswanadha defeated Vignesh in round 6, but took the second place trophy after tragically losing in round 7.  Bay Area representatives came home with four of the Top 10 trophies in the final standings.  Veni!  Vidi!  Vici!

The following list shows Northern California trophy winners at High School Nationals.

IM Viswanadha
(credit: Greg Shahade)
  • The Harker School (San Jose) team = CHAMPIONS
  • Monta Vista High School (Cupertino) team = 4th

  • FM Vignesh Panchanatham (Harker) 1st and co-champ
  • IM Kesav Viswanadha (MVHS) 2nd and co-champ
  • NM Siddharth Banik 8th
  • NM Michael Wang (Harker) 10th
  • Richard Yi (Harker) 20th
  • NM Andrew Hong 36th
  • Evan Lohn (Harker) 1st Unrated
  • Richard Wang (Harker) 2nd Unrated

Tuesday, April 5

Arnold Plays Chess


Former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger played against children in a chess simul held at the sports and health exposition bearing his name in Rio de Janeiro. Before entering the political arena, Arnold built his reputation as an actor (Terminator among others) and bodybuilder.  Less well known is his affection for the royal game.  Alas, a chess master he is not.

Thursday, March 17

Young Reporters Interview Magnus Carlsen

Carlsen poses with two young reporters.  Photo by Dein Spiegel.

A pair of 13-year old reporters from Hamburg, Germany interviewed the World Champion prior to a celebrity simultaneous exhibition.  The two youngsters asked several unusual questions, including from whether he plays on Gameboy (no), dreams about chess (mostly important losses), or would skip a chess match to play a soccer game with Real Madrid (yes).

Many chess kids and their parents will smile at the following exchange.
Q: Magnus, when you were a child, did you cry after losing a chess game? And if yes: when did you stop doing so?

A: Who says that I am not crying today? ... Okay. I think, I was 16 when I last cried after losing a game. But you should not be ashamed of that. The tears only show that you are ambitious and that you want to achieve something.
Read more about this interview at the ChessBase news website

Wednesday, March 2

Women's World Championship

Muzychuk (white) vs Hou Yifan (black) - Credit: FIDE

Women's World Championship Match
March 2-18 @ Lviv, Ukraine
10 games (rapid tiebreaks if necessary)
Champion: Mariya Muzychuk (UKR) rated 2563
Challenger: Hou Yifan (CHN) rated 2667 (former Champion)

Score: Hou Yifan Wins 6.0-3.0

Game 1: Muzychuk 1/2 Hou Yifan :: Giuoco Pianissimo, 31 moves
Game 2: Hou Yifan 1-0 Muzychuk :: Open Ruy Lopez, 32 moves
Game 3: Muzychuk 1/2 Hou Yifan :: Closed Catalan, 36 moves
Game 4: Hou Yifan 1/2 Muzychuk :: Open Ruy Lopez, 21 moves
Game 5: Hou Yifan 1/2 Muzychuk :: Reti Opening, 33 moves
Game 6: Muzychuk 0-1 Hou Yifan :: Giuoco Pianissimo, 38 moves
Game 7: Hou Yifan 1/2 Muzychuk :: Open Ruy Lopez, 81 moves
Game 8: Muzychuk 1/2 Hou Yifan :: Queen Pawn Game, 44 moves
Game 9: Hou Yifan 1-0 Muzychuk :: Sicilian Boleslavsky, 46 moves

Monday, February 29

Park Hustler Hustled by Grandmaster


As a young chess prodigy, Maurice Ashley sharpened his skills against hustlers in Central Park.  The typical hustler plays a mean game, sometimes relying on psychological tricks to intimidate his opponents.  After many years, Ashley sat down across from one unsuspecting hustler.  Who would be intimidated, the park hustler or the veteran Grandmaster?  Watch the video to find out!

Friday, January 15

NorCal Top Adults - January 2016

GM Negi studies at Stanford University (credit: Stanford Daily)

  1. GM Negi, Parimarjan 2734 USCF 2664 FIDE
  2. GM Shankland, Sam 2723 2638
  3. GM Naroditsky, Daniel 2710 2634
  4. GM Chirila, Cristian 2599 2536
  5. GM Chirila
  6. GM Barbosa, Oliver 2593 2508
  7. GM De Firmian, Nick 2583 2508
  8. GM Kraai, Jesse 2573 2510
  9. GM Bhat, Vinay 2570 2519
  10. IM Mc Cambridge, Vincent 2515 2465
  11. IM Liou, Yian 2500 2414
  12. SM Sharma, Arun 2456 2362
  13. IM Mezentsev, Vladimir 2444 2359
  14. FM Wheeler, Cameron 2436 2369
  15. IM Pruess, David 2416 2350
  16. FM Panchanatham, Vignesh 2416 2344
  17. IM Viswanadha, Kesav 2415 2359
  18. FM Lee, Andy 2391 2317
  19. IM De Guzman, Ricardo 2387 2363
  20. FM Critelli, James 2366 2273
  21. IM Kaufman, Ray 2337 2315

http://www.fpawn.com/NorCalTopAdults.pdf

Thursday, January 7

Bay Area Teenage Mutant Chess Masters

Future GMs: Daniel Naroditsky (white) squares off against Sam Shankland in 2007.

Over the past decade, the Bay Area has become an incubator for the development of young chess talents.  Indeed, school age masters used to be a rare breed, with no more than one or two gracing local tournaments at the same time.  This changed at the 2006 CalChess Scholastics, which saw a quartet of masters compete in the K-12 section.  Moreover, two of the experts participating that year would go on to earn the highest title in chess: Grandmaster!

Today, the roster of teenage masters has mutated.  It no longer numbers in single figures, but rather in the 20s!  Only a few states around the country can boast that many adult masters.  Some of the most talented juniors earn the NM title already at age 10 or 11.


NorCal K-12 Masters (Age and January 2016 USCF rating)
  1. FM Wheeler, Cameron (15) 2436 (photo at right)
  2. IM Viswanadha, Kesav (16) 2416
  3. FM Panchanatham, Vignesh (15) 2415
  4. NM Zhu, Jack Qijie (17) 2313
  5. FM Taghizadeh, Rayan (13) 2312
  6. NM Hong, Andrew Z (11) 2306
  7. NM Banik, Siddharth G (15) 2265
  8. NM Jirasek, Ladia (15) 2257
  9. NM Zhao, Art (16) 2242
  10. WIM Eswaran, Ashritha (15) 2238
  11. NM Beilin, Allan J (16) 2231
  12. NM Virtanen, Teemu (16) 2230
  13. NM Klotz-Burwell, Hunter (17) 2225
  14. NM Bick, Gabriel J (16) 2223
  15. NM Wang, Michael (14) 2217
  16. NM Nagarajan, Pranav (16) 2217
  17. NM Chow, Colin (16) 2209
  18. NM Apte, Neel (17) 2205
  19. NM Iyengar, Udit (15) 2205
  20. NM Stearman, Josiah P (12) 2203 (photo at right)
  21. nm Wang, Michael Lei (16) 2196*
  22. FM Vasudeva, Tanuj (14) 2186*
  23. nm Liu, Daniel (18) 2159*
 * previously broke 2200, but slipped back down

In addition, several local juniors have been awarded the Candidate Master title by the World Chess Federation in recognition of excellent performance at international youth tournaments.  These young stars are well on track to become masters themselves.

  • CM Senthilkumar, Pranav (13) 1975
  • CM Bayaraa, Chinguun (10) 1889 (photo at right)
  • WCM Garai, Antara (11) 1821
  • WCM Zhao, Chenyi (12) 1775
  • CM Nachiappan, Aghilan (8) 1743
  • WCM Eswaran, Aksithi (9) 1709

Make sure to check out the NorCal Top 20 Juniors at my chess teaching website.
Photo credit: Richard Shorman at ChessDryad.

Monday, January 4

New Year's Championship in Oakland

Tsegmed Batchuluun
Mongolian GM Tsegmed Batchuluun dominated the Bay Area Chess New Year's Championship, scoring five wins and only one draw despite being paired with four blacks.  He impressively knocked off the top two seeds, GM Parimarjan Negi and GM Yaroslav Zherebukh, both rated over 2600 FIDE.  Scheduled for the first three days of 2016, the tournament drew a relatively modest turnout of 127 participants to a new venue, the Marriott at the Oakland Convention Center.


Next: Golden State Open in Concord on January 15-18.  This event has attracted an average of 280 players over the past six years, making it the largest annual adult chess event in Northern California.  Advance entry listBe there!

Wednesday, November 4

Hunting for Medals in Greece

One of four tournament rooms in Porto Carras.  Many girls play chess!

As the World Youth Championships enters the home stretch, the battle for the trophies reached a climax.  After nine rounds, 3 players are currently in medal position and up to 11 others have a chance with a strong finish.  In most sections, a final score of 8.5 or 9.0 will be required to reach the podium.  The best hopes for Team USA lie in the U12 category, both Open and Girls.  Indeed, NMs Andrew Hong and Carissa Yip have played among the leaders throughout the championships.  Can they finish the deal?  Other medal hopes lie with WIM Agata Bykovtsev in Girls U16 and NM Justin Wang in Open U10.  Good luck to all!

The penultimate round has already begun.  The final round starts bright and early on Thursday:  10AM in Greece or midnight in California.  Check out the live games online!  Hundreds of photos are available for viewing at Chessdom and Flickr.

Unfortunately, I am traveling for the next week with little internet access.  I leave early tomorrow, before the last round begins.  Readers will need to find the final results elsewhere.  
 

Team USA Medal Contenders
(Updated after Round 9)
(Round 10 results in blue)

  • Open U18
    • none
  • Open U16
    • FM Cameron Wheeler 6.0 in 17th place -- drew
  • Open U14
    • FM Nicolas Checa 6.0 in 16th place -- WON 
    • FM Rayan Taghizadeh 6.0 in 18th place -- drew
  • Open U12
    • Andrew Hong 7.5 in 3rd place -- lost
    • Hans Niemann 7.0 in 5th place -- lost
    • CM David Peng 7.0 in 10th place -- WON
    • Aydin Turgut 6.5 in 11th place -- lost
    • FM Awonder Liang 6.5 in 12th place -- WON
  • Open U10
    • Justin Wang 7.0 in 4th place -- drew
    • CM Arthur Guo 6.5 in 13th place -- drew
    • Anthony He 6.5 in 14th place -- drew
    • Rohun Trakru 6.5 in 15th place -- drew
  • Open U8
    • CM Aghilan Nachiappan 6.5 in 8th place -- lost
    • Adi Murgescu 6.5 in 9th place -- WON
    • Vishnu Vanapalli 6.5 in 10th place -- WON
    • Lucas Foerster-Yialamas 6.5 in 11th place -- lost 
    • James Oh 6.0 in 17th place -- lost
  • Girls U18
    • none
  • Girls U16
    • WIM Agata Bykovtsev 7.0 in 3rd place -- WON       
    • WIM Ashritha Eswaran 6.0 in 11th place -- drew 
  • Girls U14
    • none
  • Girls U12
    • Carissa Yip 7.5 in 2nd place -- WON
    • WFM Martha Samadashvili 7.0 in 6th place -- drew
  • Girls U10
    • Rochelle Wu 6.5 in 8th place -- lost
    • WCM Nastassja Matus 6.5 in 9th place -- drew 
    • Rianne Ke 6.5 in 11th place -- WON
    • WCM Aksithi Eswaran 6.0 in 19th place -- WON 
  • Girls U8
    • Maya Behura 6.0 in 19th place -- WON

N.B. Includes only players in Top 20 of standings after Round 9.  Players ranked by the official tiebreaks.  Bay Area representatives in orange.

Tuesday, November 3

Local Kids Play for Medals

USA teammates Aydin Turgut (white) and Andrew Hong shake
hands before playing in round 9. Photo by Kerrie Utsumi.

Two rounds remain at the World Youth Championships in Halkidiki, and half of the Bay Area participants have already clinched at least a 50% final score (5.5).  Three remain in contention to earn a medal: NMs Andrew Hong and Hans Niemann in U12 plus Aghilan Nachiappan in U8.  Andrew has the strongest chances since he is currently tied for first in U12 with two others.

The championships conclude with round 10 on Wednesday (5am PST) and round 11 on Thursday (Midnight PST).  Watch the top boards in each section (except U8) LIVE!  Go U-S-A!


Bay Area Juniors at World Youth
(Updated after Round 9

  • Open U16
    • FM Cameron Wheeler 6.0
  • Open U14
    • FM Rayan Taghizadeh 6.0
  • Open U12
    • NM Andrew Hong 7.5 in 3rd place
    • NM Hans Niemann 7.0 in 5th place
    • David Pan 5.0
  • Open U10
    • William Sartorio 5.5
    • Balaji Daggupati 5.5
    • Christopher Yoo 5.5
    • CM Chinguun Bayaraa 5.0
    • Rishith Susarla 4.0
    • Prarthan Ghosh 3.5
  • Open U8
    • CM Aghilan Nachiappan 6.5 in 8th place
    • Adrian Kondakov 4.5
    • Sriram Krishnakumar 4.5
  • Girls U16
    • WIM Eswaran Ashritha 6.0
  • Girls U14
    • Simona Nayberg 4.0
    • WFM Joanna Liu 5.5
    • Serafina Show 3.5
  • Girls U12
    • WCM Chenyi Zhao 4.5
    • Hiya Ghosh 3.0
  • Girls U10
    • WCM Aksithi Eswaran 6.0
    • Annapoorni Meiyappan 5.5
  • Girls U8
    • Wong, Allyson 5.0
    • Yan Rui Yang 5.0

Monday, November 2

World Youth Tracker Rd 8

Temple of Poseidon, ancient Greek god of the sea. Photo by Ted Castro.

Team USA Statistics
(Updated after Round 8)

  • 129 players (76 boys + 53 girls)
  • Round 6 :: 73.5 = 57%
  • Round 7 :: 63.0 = 49%
  • Round 8 :: 68.0 = 53%
  • Rounds 1-5 :: 368.0 = 57% 
  • Rounds 6-8 :: 204.5 = 53%
  • Score 7.0 = 1
  • Score 6.5 = 4
  • Score 6.0 = 5
  • Score 5.5 = 14
  • Score 5.0 = 25
  • Score 4.5 = 26
  • Average = 4.4 / 8

After a week of intense chess in Halkidiki, several American medal hopefuls hit the proverbial wall in rounds 7 and 8.  Is it homesickness or exhaustion?  Irrespective, three more rounds remain, just enough time to get back on track and finish strong.  One player who stayed on track is Justin Wang of Texas, co-leader of Open U10 with 7.0 out of 8.  Tomorrow, he faces the other co-leader, a kid from Poland.  Aside from Justin, the best medal chances for Team USA lie in U12, both Open and Girls.  Indeed, six of the top 10 scores come from this age group, including three of the four 6.5s.  Bay Area readers will recognize two of the 6.5s: NM Andrew Hong (U12) and Aghilan Nachiappan (U8).  The other two are Massachusetts master Carissa Yip (Girls U12) and Aydin Turgut (U12) of Illinois.   


Top Individual Results
(Updated after Round 8

  • Open U18
    • Aaron Grabinsky (2194) 4.5
    • FM Christopher Wu (2324) 4.5
  • Open U16
    • FM Cameron Wheeler (2356) 5.5
  • Open U14
    • CM Jacob Furfine (2174) 5.5
    • FM Nicolas Checa (2437) 5.0
    • FM Rayan Taghizadeh (2240) 5.0
    • FM David Brodsky (2251) 5.0
    • Brandon Nydick (2160) 5.0
  • Open U12
    • Aydin Turgut (1884) 6.5 in 3rd place
    • Andrew Hong (2136) 6.5 in 5th place
    • Hans Niemann (2046) 6.0 in 6th place
    • CM David Peng (2231) 6.0 
    • FM Awonder Liang (2365) 5.5
    • Kevin Yang (1904) 5.0
    • Justin Paul (1926) 5.0
    • Akira Nakada (1831) 5.0
  • Open U10
    • Justin Wang (2046) 7.0 in 1st place
    • Anthony He (1820) 6.0
    • CM Arthur Guo (2073) 5.5
    • Rohun Trakru (1517) 5.5
    • Jason Wang (2040) 5.5
    • CM Maximilliam Lu (1844) 5.5 
    • Benjamin Medina (1826) 5.0
    • CM Chinguun Bayaraa (1893) 5.0
    • Jason Yu (1565) 5.0
    • Nathaniel Shuman (1680) 5.0
    • Daniel Hung (1538) 5.0
  • Open U8
    • CM Aghilan Nachiappan (unrated) 6.5 in 5th place
    • Adi Murgescu (unrated) 5.5
    • Vishnu Vanapalli (unrated) 5.5
    • Lucas Foerster-Yialamas (1687) 5.5  
    • James Oh (unrated) 5.0
  • Girls U18
    • WCM Apurva Virkud (2027) 5.0
  • Girls U16
    • WIM Agata Bykovtsev (2117) 6.0 in 4th place       
    • WIM Ashritha Eswaran (2207) 5.0 
  • Girls U14
    • WIM Annie Wang (2087) 5.0
    • WCM Sasha Konavolenko (1670) 5.0
    • Jie Tianhui (1792) 5.0
    • WFM Joanna Liu (1857) 5.0 
    • WCM Priya Trakru (1780) 5.0
  • Girls U12
    • Carissa Yip (2007) 6.5 in 2nd place
    • WFM Martha Samadashvili (1711) 6.0 
    • WCM Naomi Bashkansky (1609) 5.0
  • Girls U10
    • Rochelle Wu (unrated) 5.5
    • WCM Nastassja Matus (1761) 5.5
    • Rianne Ke (1392) 5.5
    • WCM Aksithi Eswaran (1473) 5.5 
    • WCM Anh Nguyen (1462) 5.0
    • Annapoorni Meiyappan (1246) 5.0
  • Girls U8
    • Maya Behura (unrated) 5.0
    • Allyson Wong (unrated) 5.0

N.B. All ratings above are FIDE.  Includes players with a score of plus-2 or higher.  Players ranked by tiebreaks at official standings.  Bay Area in orange.  Check back for periodic updates.  

Saturday, October 31

CalChess Contenders at World Youth

FIDE Masters Cameron (L) and Rayan (R)
smile for Cam's mother Kerrie Utsumi.

The World Youth Championships in Greece have passed the midway point.  Ten out of 22 Bay Area participants have maintained a Plus-2 score through Round 6, with another seven sitting at Plus-1!  The masters Andrew, Cameron, Rayan and Ashritha are leading the local delegation by example.  Five more rounds remain.  Go U-S-A!

Bay Area Juniors at World Youth
(Updated after Round 6

  • Open U16
    • FM Cameron Wheeler (2356) 4.5 in 7th place
  • Open U14
    • FM Rayan Taghizadeh (2240) 4.5 in 11th place
  • Open U12
    • NM Andrew Hong (2136) 5.0 in 4th place
    • NM Hans Niemann## (2046) 5.0 in 6th place
    • David Pan (1848) 3.0
  • Open U10
    • CM Chinguun Bayaraa (1893) 4.5
    • Christopher Yoo (1807) 2.5
    • Balaji Daggupati (1767) 3.5
    • William Sartorio (1725) 3.5
    • Rishith Susarla (1505) 4.0
    • Prarthan Ghosh (unrated) 2.0
  • Open U8
    • Adrian Kondakov (1565) 4.5
    • Sriram Krishnakumar (1280) 3.5
    • CM Aghilan Nachiappan (unrated) 4.5
  • Girls U16
    • WIM Eswaran Ashritha (2207) 4.0
  • Girls U14
    • Simona Nayberg (1905) 3.5
    • WFM Joanna Liu## (1857) 3.0
    • Serafina Show (1593) 1.0
  • Girls U12
    • Hiya Ghosh (1785) 1.0
    • WCM Chenyi Zhao (1544) 3.5
  • Girls U10
    • WCM Aksithi Eswaran (1473) 3.5
    • Annapoorni Meiyappan (1246) 4.0
  • Girls U8
    • Wong, Allyson (unrated) 3.0
    • Yan Rui Yang (unrated) 3.5

N.B. All ratings above are FIDE.  I am tracking a pair of players (Hans Niemann and Joanna Liu) who have ties to the Bay Area chess community, but now live out of state.

Friday, October 30

World Youth Tracker Rd 5

Unfortunately, USA teammates sometimes must face each other.
Here William Sartorio of CalChess plays Jason Wang of Ohio.

Team USA Statistics
(Updated after Round 5)

  • 129 players (76 boys + 53 girls)
  • Round 4 :: 70.0 = 54%
  • Round 5 :: 72.0 = 56%
  • Rounds 1-5 :: 368.0 = 57%
  • Perfect 5.0 = 2
  • Score 4.5 = 4
  • Score 4.0 = 10
  • Score 3.5 = 25
  • Average = 2.9 / 5
Aristo Liu of Ohio proudly
wears red, white and blue.

Congratulations to masters Justin Wang (Open U10) of Texas and Carissa Yip (Girls U12) of Massachusetts for winning the first five rounds!  FM Cameron Wheeler (Open U16) and NM Andrew Hong (Open U12) lead the Bay Area contingent with 4.5 each.  Rest day on Friday.  The tournament resumes on Saturday. 

Top Individual Results
(Updated after Round 5) 

  • Open U18
    • Aaron Grabinsky (2194) 3.5
  • Open U16
    • FM Cameron Wheeler (2356) 4.5 in 2nd place
    • Haik Der Maneulian (2163) 4.0
  • Open U14
    • FM Nicolas Checa (2437) 4.5 in 2nd place
    • FM Rayan Taghizadeh (2240) 3.5
    • FM David Brodsky (2251) 3.5
  • Open U12
    • Andrew Hong (2136) 4.5 in 5th place
    • Hans Niemann (2046) 4.0
    • Aydin Turgut (1884) 4.0
    • Justin Paul (1926) 3.5
    • Kevin Yang (1904) 3.5
    • FM Awonder Liang (2365) 3.5
    • Wesley Wang (2004) 3.5
  • Open U10
    • Justin Wang (2046) 5.0 in 2nd place
    • Benjamin Medina (1826) 4.0
    • William Sartorio (1725) 3.5
    • CM Arthur Guo (2073) 3.5
    • Anthony He (1820) 3.5
    • Balaji Daggupati (1767) 3.5
    • CM Chinguun Bayaraa (1893) 3.5 
    • Jason Yu (1565) 3.5
    • Rohun Trakru (1517) 3.5
    • Gabriel Eidelman (1705) 3.5
  • Open U8
    • Vishnu Vanapalli (unrated) 4.5 in 5th place
    • Adrian Kondakov (1565) 4.0
    • CM Aghilan Nachiappan (unrated) 4.0
    •  James Oh (unrated) 4.0
    • Adi Murgescu (unrated) 3.5
    • Arthur Xu (1782) 3.5
  • Girls U18
      USA ladies modelling the team colors.
    • WCM Apurva Virkud (2027) 3.5
  • Girls U16
    • WIM Agata Bykovtsev (2117) 4.0 in 3rd place       
    • WIM Ashritha Eswaran (2207) 3.0 
  • Girls U14
    • WIM Annie Wang (2087) 4.0 in 4th place
    • Jie Tianhui (1792) 3.5
  • Girls U12
    • Carissa Yip (2007) 5.0 in 1st place
    • Chenyi Zhao (1544) 3.5
  • Girls U10
    • WCM Anh Nguyen (1462) 4.0
    • Rochelle Wu (unrated) 3.5
    • Julia Miyasaka (1512) 3.5
    • Rianne Ke (1392) 3.5
    • WCM Nastassja Matus (1761) 3.5
  • Girls U8
    • Yan Rui Yang (unrated) 3.5

N.B. All ratings above are FIDE.  Includes players with a score of plus-2 or higher (with one exception).  Bay Area in orange.  Check back for periodic updates.  Photos from the official Chessdom photo gallery.

Tuesday, October 27

World Youth Tracker Rd 3

One of four big playing halls for World Youth.  Credit: Chessdom

Team USA Statistics
(Updated after Round 3)

  • 129 players (76 boys + 53 girls)
  • Round 1 :: 81.0 = 63%
  • Round 2 :: 78.5 = 61%
  • Round 3 :: 66.5 = 52%
  • Perfect 3.0 = 13
  • Score 2.5 = 12
  • Score 2.0 = 43 
  • Average = 1.8 / 3

Top Individual Results
(Updated after Round 3) 

The venue in Porto Carras lies on
the Aegean Sea. Credit: Chessdom
  • Open U18
    • FM Christopher Wu (2324) 2.5
  • Open U16
    • FM Cameron Wheeler (2356) 3.0
  • Open U14
    • FM Nicolas Checa (2437) 3.0
    • FM Rayan Taghizadeh (2240) 3.0
    • FM Marcus Miyasaka (2170) 2.5
  • Open U12
    • Hans Niemann (2046) 3.0
    • Andrew Hong (2136) 2.5
    • FM Awonder Liang (2365) 2.5
  • Open U10
    • CM Arthur Guo (2073) 3.0
    • Justin Wang (2046) 3.0
    • William Sartorio (1725) 3.0
    • Jason Yu (1565) 2.5
    • Balaji Daggupati (1767) 2.5
    • Logan Wu (1832) 2.5
  • Open U8
    • CM Aghilan Nachiappan (unrated) 3.0
    • Adrian Kondakov (1565) 3.0
    • Adi Murgescu (unrated) 2.5
    • Arthur Zihan Xu (1782) 2.5
    • Vishnu Surya Vanapalli (unrated) 2.5
  • Girls U18
    • Alice Dong (1808) 1.5
    • WCM Apurva Virkud (2027) 1.5
  • Girls U16
    • WIM Eswaran Ashritha (2207) 3.0
    • WIM Agata Bykovtsev (2117) 3.0
  • Girls U14
    • WIM Annie Wang (2087) 3.0
  • Great place for a chess vacation!
  • Girls U12
    • Carissa Yip (2007) 3.0
  • Girls U10
    • Rianne Ke (1392) 2.5
  • Girls U8
    • Yan Rui Yang (unrated) 2.5

N.B. All ratings above are FIDE.  Includes only players with a score of plus-2 or higher.  Check back for periodic updates.

Monday, October 26

CalChess Well Represented in Greece

Ashritha at Pan Am Junior 2015
Rayan at World Youth 2014




















Young chess players from the Bay Area comprise one-sixth of Team USA at the World Youth Festival in Greece.  Four masters lead the local representatives: FM Cameron Wheeler (silver medal for U12 at 2012 World), FM Rayan Taghizadeh (bronze medal for U12 at 2014 World), WIM Ashritha Eswaran (winner of both 2015 US Junior Girls and 2015 Pan Am Junior Girls) and NM Andrew Hong (champion at 2015 US Elementary K-6 as a 4th grader).  Overall, 13 boys and 9 girls, together with their dedicated parents, made the trip from San Francisco to Halkidiki.  They will participate in every age group except U18.

Nine out of 22 Bay Area kids have achieved a perfect score through Round 2!!

Bay Area Juniors at World Youth
(Updated after Round 2

  • Open U16
    • FM Cameron Wheeler (2356) 2.0
  • Open U14
    • FM Rayan Taghizadeh (2240) 2.0
  • Open U12
    • NM Andrew Hong (2136) 2.0
    • NM Hans Niemann## (2046) 2.0
    • David Pan (1848) 1.0
  • Open U10
    • CM Chinguun Bayaraa (1893) 2.0
    • Christopher Yoo (1807) 1.0
    • Balaji Daggupati (1767) 1.5
    • William Sartorio (1725) 2.0
    • Rishith Susarla (1505) 0.5
    • Prarthan Ghosh (unrated) 0.0
  • Open U8
    Young Adrian at Berkeley Chess
    • Adrian Kondakov (1565) 2.0
    • Sriram Krishnakumar (1280) 1.5
    • CM Aghilan Nachiappan (unrated) 2.0
  • Girls U16
    • WIM Eswaran Ashritha (2207) 2.0
  • Girls U14
    • Simona Nayberg (1905) 1.0
    • WFM Joanna Liu## (1857) 1.0
    • Serafina Show (1593) 1.0
  • Girls U12
    • Hiya Ghosh (1785) 0.0
    • WCM Chenyi Zhao (1544) 1.0
  • Girls U10
    • WCM Aksithi Eswaran (1473) 1.0
    • Annapoorni Meiyappan (1246) 1.0
  • Girls U8
    • Wong, Allyson (unrated) 1.0
    • Yan Rui Yang (unrated) 2.0

N.B. All ratings above are FIDE.  I am tracking a pair of players (Hans Niemann and Joanna Liu) who have ties to the Bay Area chess community, but now live out of state.  If I omitted any other local kids playing in Greece, please contact me ASAP.

Friday, October 23

World Youth Begins in Halkidiki, Greece


The annual World Youth Chess Championships kick off this weekend in Porto Karras, a coastal resort in the Halkidiki region of northern Greece.  Most Americans flew on Thursday, arriving on Friday in Thessaloniki via a stopover in western Europe.  Team USA consists of a record 129 participants, supported by a dedicated army of parents and coaches.  Overall, approximately 1600 players from more than 90 countries have registered, considerably more than South Africa in September 2014 and a modest increase over the same venue in October 2010, but less than United Arab Emirates in December 2013.

Girls and boys compete separately in six age divisions.  The largest sections are in the U10, U12 and U14 age groups, each numbering over 180 boys or 110 girls.  In a change from past years, there will be no double round.  Thus, the schedule calls for 11 rounds over 12 days, including a rest day.  Rounds begin at 3pm Greek time, 6am Pacific daylight time (5am after November 1).  Traditionally, the boards in each section will be broadcast live.

Cameron, Sam and Kayden were all smiles in 2012.
Despite stiff competition from Russia and India, the American delegation has achieved modest success in recent years.  For five straight years, Team USA has earned a gold medal!  The best team result of 4 medals came in 2012, when future GMs Troff and Sevian captured gold in U14 and U12, respectively.  In each of the past two years, the squad won a pair of medals, including one gold.


Best USA Results
  • Jennifer Yu, GOLD for Girls U12 in 2014
  • Awonder Liang, GOLD for U10 in 2013
  • Kayden Troff, GOLD for U14 in 2012
  • Sam Sevian, GOLD for U12 in 2012
  • Cameron Wheeler, Silver for U12 in 2012 (tied for first)
  • Awonder Liang, GOLD for U8 in 2011
  • Steven Zierk, GOLD for U18 in 2010
  • Sam Shankland, Bronze for U18 in 2008 (tied for first)
  • Daniel Naroditsky, GOLD for U12 in 2007

Steven celebrated his 2010 gold
medal on the beach in Halkidiki.
How will Team USA fare in Halkidiki?  Players must recognize that the tournament is like a marathon, and one bad game does not mean disaster.  Indeed, 8.5 may be sufficient to win a medal!  Check out the following list of the top rated Americans in each section.  N.B.: Ratings mean little for the youngest divisions; indeed many participants do not even have an international rating yet.


Whom to Watch on Team USA
  • #42 FM Chris Wu in U18
  • #28 FM Cameron Wheeler in U16
  • #2 FM Nicolas Checa and #25 FM Rayan Taghizadeh in U14
  • #2 FM Awonder Liang, #8 David Peng and #17 Andrew Hong in U12
  • #7 Arthur Guo, #9 Justin Wang and #10 Jason Wang in U10
  • No rating favorites in U8 (too many FIDE unrateds)
  • #32 Apurva Virkud in Girls U18
  • #7 WIM Ashritha Eswaran and #17 WIM Agata Bykovtsev in Girls U16
  • #11WIM Annie Wang in Girls U14
  • #3 Carissa Yip in Girls U12
  • No rating favorites in Girls U10 (too many FIDE unrateds)
  • No rating favorites in Girls U8 (too many FIDE unrateds)

For the latest news, check out the official Twitter feed @fidewycc2015.  Dozens of photos daily at Chessdom Photo Gallery

Thursday, September 10

Follow the World Cup in Baku


The 2015 Chess World Cup begins on September 11 in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan and the birthplace of the 13th World Champion Garry Kasparov.  A total of 128 participants have been paired much like college basketball's March Madness, with the top seeds facing the lowest rated in the first round.  Each round consists of two classical games (40/90, G/30, inc/30) followed by a third day of rapid and blitz tiebreaks (if necessary).

At the end of 7 rounds over 26 grueling days, the champion earns $96,000 and, perhaps more significantly, the top two qualify for the 2016 Candidates Tournament to determine the official challenger to Magnus Carlsen, the reigning World Champion.  Can former World Champion Vladimir Kramnik win two World Cups in a row, or will one of the young superstars finish on top?

View from hotel in Baku. Credit: Caruana

Top 16 Seeds (with Live ratings)
  • #1 Veselin Topalov (BUL) 2813
  • #2 Hikaru Nakamura (USA) 2816
  • #3 Fabiano Caruana (USA) 2796
  • #4 Anish Giri (NED) 2798
  • #5 Wesley So (USA) 2760
  • #6 Vladimir Kramnik (RUS) 2777
  • #7 Alexander Grischuk (RUS) 2774
  • #8 Ding Liren (CHN) 2782
  • #9 Levon Aronian (ARM) 2784 eliminated in round 2
  • #10 Dmitry Jakovenko (RUS) 2748
  • #11 Sergey Karjakin (RUS) 2762
  • #12 Evgeny Tomashevsky (RUS) 2758
  • #13 Boris Gelfand (ISR) 2741 eliminated in round 1
  • #14 Pentala Harikrishna (IND) 2737 eliminated in round 2
  • #15 Michael Adams (ENG) 2742
  • #16 Peter Svidler (RUS) 2727

On one hand, three of the Top 5 seeds represent the USA.  On the other hand, there are six Russians among the Top 16 participants.  N.B.: The seeds reflect the August rating list, not the more current September list.

Nine Americans 
  • #2 Hikaru Nakamura 2816 advanced to round 3
  • #3 Fabiano Caruana 2796 advanced to round 3
  • #5 Wesley So 2760 advanced to round 3
  • #41 Ray Robson 2680 eliminated in round 1
  • #47 Gata Kamsky 2680 eliminated in round 1
  • #54 Alexander Onischuk 2662 eliminated in round 2 by #11 Karjakin (RUS)
  • #63 Sam Shankland 2656 eliminated in round 2 by #2 Nakamura (USA)
  • #79 Varuzhan Akobian 2635 eliminated in round 1
  • #112 Sam Sevian 2556 eliminated in round 1 by #17 Radjabov (AZE)

The format of the World Cup favors many upsets, starting as early as the first round!  Even one miscalculation could mean a premature flight home.  Four years ago, local star Sam Shankland scored the upset of his life by eliminating the Hungarian super-GM Peter Leko!  The following young players are poised to defeat higher seeded opponents in Baku.

Fpawn Upset Watch List
  • #22 Yu Yangyi (CHN) 2721 (age 21) advanced to round 3
  • #24 Wei Yi (CHN) 2734 (age 16) advanced to round 3
  • #45 Vladislav Artemiev (RUS) 2675 (age 17) eliminated in round 2
  • #46 Hou Yifan (CHN) 2671 (age 21) eliminated in round 2
  • #64 Ivan Bukavshin (RUS) 2657 (age 20) eliminated in round 1
  • #78 S.P. Sethuraman (IND) 2640 (age 22) advanced to round 3
  • #80 David Anton Guijarro (ESP) 2628 (age 20) eliminated in round 1
  • #90 Alexander Ipatov (TUR) 2625 (age 22) eliminated in round 2
  • #97 Lu Shanglei (CHN) 2599 (age 20) advanced to round 3