Beginning May 11, Nashville Tennessee will host the 2012 U.S.C.F National Elementary Chess Championship. This is the paramount annual chess event for children ages 4-12. Below is a highly biased preview for this year’s event. The competitors listed in this article are all kids I have the pleasure of playing chess with on a weekly basis. What can I say . . . my job rocks!
Kids to Watch in the K-1
Collins Elementary first grader Milind Maiti possesses natural tactical abilities that are beyond anything one would expect from a player in high school! He is truly a chess prodigy of the highest level and will be a contender at the 2012 National Elementary Chess Championship.
MSJE kindergartener Kevin Pan is a rookie at this year’s Nation Elementary Chess Championship. Fresh from a State Championship win in California, Kevin is poised to make a big statement in Nashville.
MSJE student Rishith Susarla was nearly perfect at the USCF National k-12 Championship in 2011. If you talk with Rishith one of the first things you will notice is how quickly he speaks. When sitting across the chessboard from him, I often feel that he calculates much faster than the computer Deep Blue.
I first got to know Edwin Thomas (MSJE) at last year’s chess camp I ran at Mission San Jose Elementary School. Edwin progressed from a rookie to a trophy winner in just a few short weeks.
Amulya Harish (MSJE) and his father always seek me out at the local tournaments for extra instruction. I have no doubt that with his dedication he will quickly excel.
Rounding out the field for the fabulous MSJE K-1 chess team is Annapoorni Meiyappan, Aarti Abhijit Sant, and Stephen He.
Kids to Watch in the K-3
Luke Zhao is a third grader at MSJE and the only child from that school to be an official member of the Torres Chess and Music Academy All Star Team for the school year 2011-2012. Luke has played an important role in several successful championship runs for the MSJE team. Now he seems ready to play for his first individual championship.
Watch out for John Chan (MSJE) who recently claimed the title of K-3 champion at last month’s CalChess Scholastic Chess Championships.
Second grader Soorya Kuppam (MSJE) is my favorite opponent on Monday nights. It’s hard to believe that he has already been competing in chess for three years.
Don’t let Mihir Bhuptani’s (MSJE) quiet personality fool you. His crushing tactics are comparable to a rock concert.
Tommy Koh has played in integral roll in several MSJE championship victories.
The final touch to the MSJE powerhouse this year is Jeffrey Liu.
Ben Rood was also a part of the Torres Chess and Music Academy All Star Team for the school year 2011-2012. Ben has already won several National and State Championships and is playing the best chess I have ever seen from a second grader. Fresh off his k-5 State Champion win in California, this second grader is ready to win at the national level again. If Magnus Carlsen is the Motzart of Chess then Ben Rood is definitely the Beethoven.
Kids to Watch in the K-5
Sadly, MSJE was unable to bring a full team to the K-5 section this year. Despite being a player down, I am sure that the kids who were able to attend will give a phenomenal effort.
The first member of the K-5 MSJE Team is Amit Sant, of whom I am a huge fan. Drake Lin has grown from a nominal player out of dozens to a key player at MSJE over the last several years. Finally, we have Anjan Das who is attending despite his extremely busy schedule of other extracurricular achievements.
Kids to Watch in the K-6
We can only say that while we only have four competitors for our MSJE K-6 Team, these are the four kids I am most glad to see attending.
Eric Zhu is the first kids at MSJE to ever defeat me in a chess game. Alvin Kong is so eager to play chess he often arrives to chess class before any of the coaches and always gives Coach Joe Lonsdale the most trouble in their weekly skirmishes. Sayan Das, Anjan’s elder brother, is similar to his brother in his prolific talents in all areas, especially on the MSJE Team. Finally, Shalin Shah is not only one of my favorite opponents, but one of my good friends. I look ahead with regret at the loss to MSJE as he and the other K-6 competitor’s graduate onto the seventh grade and greater challenges. I would like to add that we will be losing one other key asset to the MSJE Team as our sixth graders move ahead. Nimish Shah, Salin’s father, was a fantastic and devoted volunteer every Monday at MSJE. I have great respect for his dedication to his son and the MSJE chess Team.
It is a distinct pleasure to have played a role in all of these wonderful children’s chess development. Unfortunately, I will not be at this year’s tournament as I must stay home to help my pregnant wife. Yet I know that Coach Joe Lonsdale will successfully lead our Northern California Chess Competitors to victory. Check back daily for more updates on the exciting events from the 2012 National Elementary Championship.