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June 1, 2010 > Tri-City chess teams perform well in national championships

Tri-City chess teams perform well in national championships

Submitted By Michelle Motoyoshi

Tri-City youth have put Fremont on the chess map. At the U.S. Chess Federation's Elementary School National Championships in Atlanta, Georgia, last month, the Weibel Elementary and Mission San Jose Elementary teams logged impressive performances, with Weibel earning a National Primary Championship in the K-3 division.

In this prestigious tournament's 40-year history, Weibel is only the second Northern California team to win a national title. Mission San Jose became the first when they garnered the national title in the K-6 division last year.

In national competitions, East Coast teams tend to dominate the top spots and the spotlight, but no more. Although over 2,000 kindergarten through sixth grade players from around the country participated in this year's tournament, Fremont players scored a top ten placement in every division.

"After a while, everybody was wondering where Fremont was and why we're producing such great chess players," said coach Ted Castro.

Weibel's first-place finish wasn't an easy task. They entered the final round of play in second place and had to battle a formidable team from Hunter College Elementary in New York. But the Weibel team scored three points in the last games (boosting their total to 17) and snatched a piece of first place.

Notably, the winning Weibel K-3 team included strong performances by team members Michael Wang (two-time state champion), Joanna Liu (the girls national champion), Serafina Show, Desiree Ho and Alisha Chawla.

Typically a male-dominated sport, chess teams infrequently contain more than one or two girls. But Weibel managed to find four very talented girls and has produced a highly successful squad. In fact, Joanna Liu will be representing the U.S. in the next World Youth Chess Championships in Greece this November. It will mark the third consecutive year that Weibel chess has sent a girl to that competition.

The Mission San Jose team also hit high marks in this year's competition. In the K-1 division, Mission San Jose placed second out of 50 teams. Mission San Jose also took third in the K-5 division and fourth in the K-3 division. MSJ was the only school in the country to have top-10 placements in all four divisions.

A critical part of the success of these chess teams is their dedicated coaches. Dr. Alan Kirsher, runs the chess program at Weibel, while Joe Lonsdale heads the program at Mission San Jose. Ted Castro, who heads the Newark Chess Club, also privately coaches many of the students.

All of the coaches have had great success not only in producing top-ranked players, but also in exposing a wide range of students to the rewards and challenges of chess. To find out more about their programs, please contact the Newark Chess Club at castro.ted@gmail.com; visit Weibel Chess' website at www.WeibelChess.org; or contact Mission San Jose chess at joseph.longsdale@motomation.com for more information.

Other Tri-City students who participated in the national championships are Justin Wang, Brett Beardsley, Sharvil Kekre, Mihir Bhuptani, John Chan, Soorya Kuppam, Luke Zhao, Ojas Arun, Anjan Das, Drake Lin, Kevin Zhu. Armaan Kalyanpur, Alvin Kong, Erik Wong, Alex Yin, Sayan Das, Evan Wong, Emily and Eric Zhu, John Chan, Tanuj Vasudeva, Amit Sant, Sameer Vijay, Kevin Moy, Daniel Ho, Nikhil Jaha, Seth Castro, Geeta Shankar, Ishas Kekre, Anirudh Seela, Calvin Tam and Amarinder Chahal.

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