Coach Joe’s Report on the 2018 USCF National Elementary Chess Championships (Photos by Hui Wang):
On the weekend of May 11th to 13th more than 2200 Elementary school students competed in the National Elementary School Chess Championships in Nashville, TN. This was the tenth straight year that a strong group of Mission San Jose Elementary School (MSJE) chess players traveled from Fremont, California to attend these championships and once again they brought back an impressive collection of plaques and trophies.
The overall elementary school championship is the K-6 Championship section. MSJE has won this section three times in the last five years (2013, 2015, & 2016) and four times in the past nine years (also 2009). We decided to arrange our players to maximize the chances of winning this section again. This meant moving our two top fifth graders (Aghilan Nachiappan and Allyson Wong) into K-6. This move left us without a full team in K-5, but our two second grade stars (Kavya Meiyappan and Jason Liu) agreed to move up and play in K-5 since we did not have a full team in K-3. (Four players is a full team. The team score is the sum of the scores of the top four players on the team.
This left us with a K-6 team with one super star and five very strong players and a K-5 team that had a reasonable shot at a top 10 finish.
We have had a great K-1 team and I fully expected them to finish in first. I was confident enough to mention this to Chuck Graves, the MSJE principal. MSJE won K-1 in 2012 and this team was certainly stronger than our 2012 team.
As high as my expectations were for our K-1 team the team actually exceeded expectations. They got off to a fast start and were never in any place but first. There were 154 players in the K-1 section. Only six players scored six or more points. Our top three players Artham Pawar, Lucas Jiang, and Arnam Pawar all scored 6 out of seven. Adirya Arutla scored 5/7, Sagwartha Selvan scored 3.5/7. Sarvesh Maniv also competed for our K-1 team. This team won by 4.5 points which is a gigantic margin. They could have not shown up for the seventh round and still won first place.
Our K-6 team was locked in a brutal battle with three powerhouse schools form New York all weekend. They went into the last round a half point behind Speyer and a half point ahead of Dalton. These are both perennial scholastic chess powerhouses. Kevin Pan, our top player, with 5/6 was in a battle of the individual championship. We gained a half point on Speyer, Dalton gained a half point on us and we ended up in a three-way tie for first place. Kevin won his game and ended up in a tie for first place.
Our K-5 team of Kavya Meiyappan, (4/7) Ayan Kassamali, (3.5/7) Jason Liu (3/7) and Jolene Liu (2.5/7) tied for seventh place. Zahaan Kassamali also competed in K-3 (4.5/7).
Congratulations to the chess team for a great result at the National Championships.
MSJE Chess Coaches: Joe Lonsdale, Meiyaps Sathappan, Terry and Cathy Liu, Hui Wang, Nachi Nachiappan, Chris Torres