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April 27, 2012 > Mission San Jose contestants shine at chess championships

Mission San Jose contestants shine at chess championships

Submitted By Joe Lonsdale

Over 850 Northern California students competed in the Northern California Scholastic Chess Championships at the Santa Clara Convention Center the weekend of April 22 and 23. As expected, the team competition was dominated by the two Northern California Schools that excelled at the Nationals last year and dominated the State meet last year. Berkeley Chess School (not an official school for the competition so not involved in team competition) also excelled by grabbing two individual championships.

The only California Schools to ever win a National Championship in K-5 or K-6 are Regnart (K-5 champions 2011) and Mission San Jose Elementary (MSJE; K-6 champions in 2008). At the 2011 Nationals, MSJE had four top four finishes in K-1 (3rd), K-3 (4th), K-5 (4th) and K-6 (2nd). No other school has ever had four top four finishes at the nationals. At the 2011 state meet, MSJE won K-3 and K-5 and was second to Regnart in K-6.

In high school competition, Mission San Jose High School (all seven members were MSJE graduates) trailed Monte Vista High of Cupertino all weekend. In the last round, MSJHS had a three point round to overtake Monte Vista and win by a half point. In the critical game, Mission's Vincent Tian (1755) upset Monte Vista's Kevin Rosenberg (1982) to give Mission a half point victory (16 to 15.5). In addition to Vincent, the MSJHS team consisted of James Kwok, Arthur Liou, and Hemang Jangle. Vincent and Hemang are students of Richard Shorman as are most of the top MSJE players. Arthur and James are students of Michael Aigner. These are the two of the top chess teachers in Northern California.

MSJE dominated the elementary grades (won 6 of 7 grades) at the Northern California grade level championships in December. It was no surprise that MSJE also dominated the elementary school sections at these championships.

Alvin Kong, Eric Zhu, and Shalin Shah have been stars for the MSJE chess team since they were in kindergarten. Two years ago Sayan Das earned his way onto the chess team and fought his way to the top of the ladder. Suddenly MSJE had four stars in one grade. All four of these stars are students of Richard Shorman. As expected, this group led the MSJE chess team to an overwhelming victory in the K-6 Championship section. Shalin Shah and Sayan Das each scored five points and tied for second place. Alvin Kong and Eric Zhu each scored 4.5 points and tied for fourth place.

The team competition in K-5 was again dominated by MSJE. Amit Sant scored 4.5 points and took 5th place. Drake Lin scored four points and tied for sixth place. Overall MSJE scored 13.5 points versus 7.5 for the second place team (Willet from Davis). Regnart was not able to field a full team in either K-5 or K-6 championship. They did field a strong K-6 JV (Junior varsity, for players with rating below 900.) team and won the JV Championship 13.0 to 10.5 for second place MSJE. Since MSJE had a total of 13 players in K-5 and K-6 Championship, it was not surprising that they were beaten in K-6 JV.

Again MSJE dominated the team competition in the K-3 Championship Division. Going into the tournament we thought we had a reasonable chance of winning both the individual and team championship in K-3. MSJE first grader Rishith Susarla (1427) was the second highest rated student in the field once Ben Rood left the section. However when Rishith lost his second round game to Amir Dhami (1243 Chadbourne) the chance of an individual championship looked very dim. However the second rated MSJE player in the section (John Chan 1384, the seventh highest rated player in the section.) came through with 5.5 points and a clear first place finish. The MSJE K-3 team won with 13.5 points, more than twice the second place team.

The only close team championships were the oldest (high school) and the youngest (Kindergarten). The Kindergarten championship was even closer than the High School Championship which Mission High won by 0.5 points. MSJE and Vallejo tied with 13.5 points. MSJE got the first place team trophy on tie breaks, but the teams are co-champions. Each team also had an individual winner as Kevin Pan from MSJE and David Inglesias from Vallejo both scored a perfect 5.0 to win the title of Kindergarten Champion.

This was a very well-run tournament. The rounds started on time and even the trophy presentations went reasonably well. Congratulations to Salman Azhar and his entire team.

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