Mission San Jose Elementary School in Fremont, California has, for decades, fielded the most successful chess teams the Golden State has ever produced. Year after year, the relatively small public school’s chess club trains hundreds of students in the art of aggressive chess play. Those who excel at the club are invited to participate in the more exclusive Monday night team meetings. There, as he has done since the 1980’s, Head Coach Joe Lonsdale uses his demo board to show practical examples of masterful chess games played by the great masters of the 19’th century as well as recent gems played by the young Mission San Jose Elementary chess players. After the lesson, students are paired into a stepladder tournament and compete using clocks while notating their moves. Every week, almost every game played gets analysed by Joe Lonsdale, Richard Shorman, Chris Torres or a graduate of the chess team. Joe’s labor of love has created a chess team that has an unrivaled success rate at major chess tournaments and a team jersey that can barely fit all the state chess titles the school has won.
Mission San Jose Elementary School has also fares well at the national level despite the fact that the USCF National Elementary Chess Championships are rarely held on the west coast. In 2009, Mission San Jose Elementary School became the first school from California to ever win the National Elementary Chess Champion Title. The following year, the Mission San Jose Elementary School team placed second in the K-1 Championship Section, tied for fourth place in the K-3 Championship Section, finished third in the K-5 Championship Section and placed 9th in the K-6 Championship section. In 2011, we even did better! Mission San Jose Elementary School placed second in the k-6 Championship Section, fourth in the k-5 Championship Section, fourth in the k-3 Championship Section and third in the k-1 Championship section. According to a long bearded USCF representative I road back to the airport with, this is the best overall achievement of any school in the history of the USCF National Elementary Chess Championships.
Of course, as hard as us coaches work, it is the players who deserve the credit and recognition. Sixth grader Arman Kalyanpur was our team leader scoring an impressive 5.5/7. Fifth Grader Alvin Kong achieved a score of 4.5/7. Sixth Grader Erik Wong also scored well with 4/7. Our fourth member of the k-6 Championship Section was Alex Yin who completed the tournament with 3.5/7.
Our k-5 team was led by fourth grader Amit Sant with a score of 5/7. Fifth graders Steven Li and Shalin Shah who both finished with an impressive 4.5/7. Another fifth grader, Eric Zhu, managed to score 4/7. Fifth Grader Sayan Das scored 3.5/7.
Our k-3 team was led by second grader John Andrew Chan who finished with 5/7. Next came second grader Mihir Bhuptani and third grader Ojas Arun who both scored 4/7. Second grader Alvin Zhang had a strong showing with 3.5/7. Second Grader Luke Zhao, who had the flu, finished with 3/7. Edward Liu, who attended his first Nationals, finished with 2.5/7.
The MSJE k-1 team’s top scorer was kindergartener Rishith Susarla with and impressive 5/7. Next came first graders Chenyi Zhao and Soorya Kuppam with a score of 4.5/7. First Grader Jeffrey Liu managed to score 4/7. The quickly improving Kindergartener Amulya Harish finished with 2.5/7.
And to the MSJE Chess Team…
It was a real pleasure to watch all of you achieve such great success in the most prestigious tournament of the year. As your chess coach, I am very grateful to have shared so many memorable moments with you during the 2010-2011 school years. Congratulations!