Rianne Ke Makes History Among Seven New National Champs

Rianne Ke vs. Gus Huston, Photo IM Eric Rosen

Rianne Ke was in a must win situation in round seven of the K-6 Championship at the Elementary Nationals in Nashville. She reached a key position after 20 moves. Ke’s knight on f3 is attacked and if it moves, …Bc5 is coming, when the e5-pawn is a goner.

Rianne Ke- Gus Huston

Ke found the key in-between move, 20. e6! after which 20…Rd8 was mandatory, with a complicated position since …Nc5 is a threat and if 21. exd7, Rxd7 and Black will regain the piece. Instead Huston played …Rf8 and Ke went on to win.

With this victory, Rianne became the first female ever to win the K-6 Championship. US Chess director of Events Boyd Reed called Ke a “trailblazer”, comparing her accomplishment to Maggie Feng’s victory two years ago in the Junior High School Championship.

Ke joined three other players at 6/7: Nathaniel Shuman, Rithik Polavaram and Kevin Pan.

Michael Zheng vs. Nathaniel Shuman in the final round of the K-6 Championships, Photo IM Eric Rosen

Nathaniel Shuman (New York) celebrated his 12th birthday by taking home the first place trophy with the best tiebreaks.

Drew Justice vs. Kevin Pan, Photo IM Eric Rosen

Kevin Pan won his final round game vs. Drew Justice to get to 6/7, meanwhile knocking Drew out of contention, who came into the round with 5.5/6. Danny Rohde, who will be writing about the K-5 Championships in a separate article, said “Pan played the white side of a Caro-Kann very well and took advantage of a couple of tactical mistakes by Justice.” Kevin finished off with a sparkling combination.

This victory by Pan also catapulted his team, Mission San Jose Elementary into a tie for first in the team competition. Speyer Legacy School in New York took the first place trophy on tiebreaks, while Dalton School in New York, led by Shuman also earned a Championship team title.

Rithik Polavaram, Photo IM Eric Rosen

Also joining the K-6 winners circle: Rithik Polavaram of Texas.

K-5 Championships

Top boards at the K-5 and K-3 Championships in round 7. Photo IM Eric Rosen

Nico Chasin won the K-5 division for a double victory as it brought his team, PS 41 in New York a team Championship. Rohde’s piece on this section will cover the games of the dramatic final round.

K-3 Championships

Ronen Wilson of Virginia took clear first in the K-3 Championships, with a final score of 6.5/7.

Ronen Wilson, K-3 Champion, in his final round game vs. Iris Mou

Iris Mou, Photo IM Eric Rosen

In the final round, Ronen made his only draw of the event against Iris Mou. With this draw Mou scored 6/7, and led Dalton School in New York to top team honors.

K-1 Championships

Rohan in the final round, Photo IM Eric Rosen

Rohan Rajaram of Northern California won clear first in the K-1 Championships with 6.5/7. Mission San Jose Elementary, also of the Bay Area, won the team competition.

Rohan Rajaram, Photo IM Eric Rosen

Beyond Trophies

The event was also featured in local news coverage, where US Chess President Mike Hoffpauir spoke about the benefits of chess, which “teaches decision making at an early age.”

US Chess President Mike Hoffpauir interviewed at the K-6 Championships, Photo IM Eric Rosen

Championship Sunday was also Mother’s Day at the Nationals. A big thank you to all the Moms and maternal figures at the K-6 Championships!

A special mother’s day shoutout to Leila D’Aquin and Kimberly Doo McVay, who volunteered at the popular Girls’ Room all weekend on behalf of the US Chess Women‘s committee.

US Chess ED Carol Meyer, D’Aquin, US Women’s Champ Nazi Paikdize, Doo McVay and WIM Carolina Blanco

IM Paikidze giving a simul in Nashville, Photo Eric Rosen

The US Chess Women’s Girls’ Room hosted simuls, puzzle solving, a lecture and a Town Hall meeting in a fun packed weekend.

Browse full standings here.

IM Eric Rosen, Danny Rohde and Jennifer Shahade contributed to this report. 

Review highlights from our twitter takeover by IM Eric Rosen at #ElemChessChamps

Photo Jim Doyle


  1. Wonderful news, congrats to Rianne Ke for making history. Girl power! Show the boys how it’s done! What a historic day to win national elementary championship for the first time.

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