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April 16, 2013 > Fremont chess teams shine at Nationals

Fremont chess teams shine at Nationals

Submitted By Joe Lonsdale

Over 5,500 school children from all 50 states competed in National Scholastic Chess Championships in Nashville, Tennessee April 6-8. Mission San Jose Elementary (MSJE) and Gomes Elementary, both of Fremont, won the two major elementary school chess championships.

These "Super Nationals," held every four years, include the Elementary School, Junior High, and High School National championships at the same location. The majority of participants (over 3,000) competed in the Elementary School sections. Four Championship team trophies are handed out every year in the Elementary School sections. This year, one went to Dalton School in New York City and one to PS41 in New York City. For the second year in a row, two Elementary School Championship trophies were awarded to Fremont elementary schools.

MSJE (Mission San Jose Elementary) won the K-6 (Kindergarten to sixth grade) Championship. This is overall Elementary School Championship of the USA.; Gomes Elementary won the K-5 Championship.

MSJE has been a scholastic chess powerhouse since the early 90s, winning the K-1 Championship last year and the K-6 championship in 2009. Since 2010, MSJE has had more top five national championship section finishes that any elementary school in the country. MSJE brought 28 children to these championships including 22 MSJE students and six Hopkins Jr. High students.

MSJE hoped to repeat as K-1 National Champions with two returning "veterans" from the 2012 National Championship team. The team had a good tournament and came within one point of scoring as well as the championship team scored last year but four K-1 teams from New York City scored higher. However, the team was happy with the fifth place finish. Players on the MSJE K-1 team were Stephen He and Aidan Chen with 5.0 points (out of a possible seven), and Arnav Lingannagari and Kevin Pan with 4.5 points. Vasu Rao, Nivedha Maniv, Allyson Wong, and Aarti Sant also competed for MSJE in K-1.

The MSJE K-3 team and Hopkins K-8 team finished fifth. Players in K-3 were Rishith Susarla with 5.0 points, and Anna Meiyappan, Kavya Sasikumar, and Jeffrey Liu with 4.0 points. Edwin Thomas and Amulya Harish also competed for MSJE in K-3. Second graders Rishith, Jeffrey, Anna, Edwin, and Amulya will compete for MSJE in K-3 again next year.

Hopkins Players were Armaan Kalyanpur with 5.0 points and Shalin Shah, Alvin Kong, and Eric Zhu with 4.0 points. Howard Shan and Sayan Das also competed for Hopkins in K-8. Shalin, Alvin, and Eric are all seventh graders who have been part of the MSJE chess program since they were K students. They now teach in the Friday afternoon program at MSJE. Armaan, Alvin, Shalin, and Eric are also on a championship robotics team that is run by Shalins' father, Nimish Shah.

The MSJE K-6 team was the biggest question mark of the tournament since one of the top players was unable to attend the championships. Also four talented fourth graders did not make the trip. As a result, MSJE did not enter a K-5 team and fourth grade student David Pan joined the K-6 team. For the last four years MSJE has been the only school in the country that has been top 10 in both K-5 and K-6.

The K-6 team played extremely well in the last two rounds, moving from seventh place to capture first place. In the last round the top MSJE players (Amit Sant, Christopher Pan, David Pan, and Anjan Das) played higher rated opponents and scored three wins and a draw for a 3.5 point round and a clear first place finish. Aditya Krishnan, Sashank Rao, Connor Chen, and Rajveer Oberoi also competed for MSJE in K-6. The team won a large trophy which will be displayed at the school; each scoring player won a plaque and a $500 college scholarship.

Over the last eight years more than 80% of Northern CA Scholastic Chess Championships have been won by MSJE. Gomes has earned second and third place finishes, but has not won any major Northern CA Championships. This makes Gomes' win of a major national championship very special.

Gomes had four strong scholastic chess players attend the championships: Joanna Liu and Ganesh Murugap, fifth grade, third grader Jason Shule and second grader William Zhang to the tournament. Although younger grade players usually compete in lower level competition, it was necessary for all to join the K-5 team as scoring is a composite of the top four players. Most teams consist of six or more players. Despite the disadvantage of fielding only four players, including a second and a third grader, the Gomes team outscored all of the other 50 teams In K-5 to become K-5 National Champions.

All players and their parents were very pleased with the results of the trip. Students learned to compete honorably and handle both wins and losses.

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