Praveen Balakrishnan (NJ), reigning Denker Champion, is only in tenth grade, but he already boasts a rating over 2500, which puts him over 300 points ahead of his nearest rivals in the 10th Grade Section of the upcoming K-12 Grade Championships. The event, split into thirteen sections based on grade level, begins later this week in Buena Vista, Florida.
Praveen, who previously won the 5th grade National Championship in Orlando, told US Chess that he takes pride in representing his school at Scholastic events. “Thomas Jefferson High School of Science and Technology (TJHSST), VA has a very strong and active chess club and very strong players with faculty sponsors and funding support from TJ Academic Boosters.”
Praveen’s regular chess habits include a daily review of Grandmaster games. As for being the top seed by such a large margin, Praveen assures US Chess that despite the seeming edge, “winning a scholastic tournament is never that easy. I’ve had my own share of failures when playing lower rated opponents.” He says that beyond skill, tournaments like the K-12 require mental strength and calm under pressure. “It takes a series of inaccuracies to lose a game. Don’t panic after the first error. pause for a couple of minutes and re-evaluate to see how you can come back into the game.
His final words of wisdom to players all over the World traveling to the K-12 Championships: “The Rival over the board but friend after relationship will form and continue throughout and beyond your scholastic chess career, so enjoy that unique friendship.”
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