2019 K-12 Grade Championships Results

After three days and seven rounds of competition, here are the winners of the 2019 K-12 Grade Championships. US Chess will have annotations and reflections from some of the winners later this week.


Individual: Lucas Yang, New York.
Team: The Speyer Legacy School; New York, New York.

1st Grade:

Individual: Mason Jin Li, Pennsylvania; and Jeremy Tao, New York.
Team: Dalton School; New York, New York

2nd Grade:

Individual: Michael Xiao, California; Leo Yang, California; and Eden You, New York.
Team: Hunter College Elementary School; New York, New York.

3rd Grade:

Individual: Rohan Rajaram, California; and Andrew Jiang, Georgia.
Team: NEST+m School; New York, New York.

4th Grade:

Individual: Yuvraj Rudra Chennareddy, Illinois.
Team: The Speyer Legacy School; New York, New York.

5th Grade:

Individual: Erick Zhao, Florida.
Team: Joseph A. Williams Elementary School; Gainseville, Florida.

6th Grade:  

Individual: Bach Ngo, Florida.
Team: Lincoln Middle School; Gainseville, Florida; and Westglade Middle School; Parkland, Florida.

7th Grade:

Individual: Wyatt Pak, New York.
Team: I.S. 318; Brooklyn, New York.

8th Grade:

Individual: Nathaniel Shuman, New York.
Team: Dalton School; New York, New York.

9th Grade:

Individual: Raghav Venkat, Florida.
Team: Hunter College Campus School; New York, New York.

10th Grade: 

Elton Cao (photo Ana Vivas)

Individual: Elton Cao, Ohio.
Team:  Jericho High School, Jericho, New York.

11th Grade:

Individual: International Master Hans Niemann, New York.
Team: Newark Academy; Livingston, New Jersey.

12th Grade:

Individual: Ansh Milinkumar Shah, New Jersey.
Team:  Edgemont High School; Scarsdale, New York.


  1. Bring back oversized trophies for individual award winners! Overhead afterwards: “How come he (referring to 30th place winner) gets a trophy and I don’t?” and “I wouldn’t have worked this hard if I had known there wouldn’t be trophies.”

    Also why do the elite private schools still get trophies? Could we give them the medals instead? Or, better yet, let geographic area chess clubs compete as teams (don’t just limit it to schools, i.e., fancy private schools with chess programs).

    • Why do Americans at all get trophies. All Americans are elite compared to the rest of the world. Have you looked at America’s carbon footprint.

  2. Nice job getting photos of all the Champions and of almost all the Championship Teams!

    The new awards look great! I think it’s a smart idea to present these trophies at the K-12 Grades since these kids (and teams) are more experienced and have won plenty of tall trophies. (This wouldn’t go over as well in an event with rookie coaches, parents, and players – like in Knoxville in 1997 where there were a lot of angry adults due to smaller-than-expected trophies).

    Sorry our teams missed it this year.

    Happy Holidays Everyone!

  3. When my son knew there were no trophies for individuals, he was so disappointed. This is his first time in national k-12 event. He deams of big and tall trophy like his brothers everyday. After hard work, he went to the stage but only got a medal… He is still sad now.

      • yes, I think that whoever thought “oh medals will travel better,” or “the medals will look really nice” as a reason to go with medals over trophies does not understand kids all that well. My son basically fell in love with competitive chess because of the trophies, and, even now, when he’s rated over 1700 in 4th grade, he was pretty disappointed to get a medal and not a big trophy. I would note that everyone already got a medal, just for competing in the tournament.

        If the problem is the cost of the trophies, then eliminate the team trophies. Or just increase the entry by a small amount.

        • With multiple chess playing kids in our family, I *don’t* want participation trophies. They collect dust and over the years are not as meaningful to the kids the ones the “really won.” Plaques are a good compromise.

  4. My son cried in disappointment after knowing that he won’t get trophy even after getting 2nd place in kindergarten championship. Medals are given in the small clubs for the players who are tied with 3rd place. Not for champions of USA. I am not coming for next year grade 1 championship.

  5. Why wouldn’t the uscf give out trophies this year? Such a bummer for the kids who get so excited for the trophies.

  6. There are several approaches that this could have been better handled. (1) USCF should have communicated this change (from a transparency perspective) beforehand, similarly to such how changes in policies such as the use of electronic notation devices were published, on the website. (2) There are inconsistencies in how trophies vs medals were awarded; for example, tiebreakers received a trophy (albeit a small one) the top individual winners didn’t. (3) To the kids’ eyes, you can’t differentiate or tell the difference by looking at a 4th place medal vs the 20th place medal unless you turn it over and look at the label. (4) Trophies have been hallmark for Nationals and the aspirations for the kids to strive to win for their hardwork. By taking them away, USCF has now diminished the intrinsic value and incentive for the kids.

  7. Time to eliminate the carbon footprint of made in wherever trophies
    Time for a green solution ie. great memories and battles at the chess board
    If your child really needs a trophy I will be happy to clean out @hanscoolniemanns room and send them all to you

    • Why would a kid want a donated trophy when they rather work hard to earn it? Donate it back to USCF so they can recycle and reuse it for the next National scholastic events so the kids who look forward to winning a trophy won’t be disappointed. 🙂

    • Hans has many trophies. I imagine when he was young both he and his family were excited when he won a big trophy at a national event. Well most players at the Grade Nationals don’t have National event trophies. They do want them. Some missed a trophy last year, studied, played hard, and finished in the top 10 this year only to find out, they still don’t get one. Nobody wants a Hans hand me down. They want the one they earned. This is a National Event. It should be viewed as such. Why give Class Trophies, Blitz Trophies, Bug House Trophies, yet skip the Individual winners, if anything it should be reversed. Eliminate the “Participation Medals” if you want to cut Carbon footprint. Change the trophies to nice looking plaques in the shape of the USA something, but the medals do not appear as a major award and appearance is everything when selling a National event

      • well said. Sorry that Hans has more trophies than he wants. Maybe next year he can stay home in order to reduce his carbon footprint. I’m sure the people who finished this year just outside of trophy contention in blitz, bughouse, and the main event won’t miss him, and will appreciate any trophies they get.

    • Congratulations to Hans on a great tournament. But why is Hans taking his two trophies home if he prefers medals? Shouldn’t he just donate them back to US Chess? They’re brand new, so no one can call them a Hans me down.

  8. Response from US Chess representatives was “we received positive feedback for switching to medals”. You should see the kids faces while receiving the medals. They were so disappointed, and also they were instead staring at the trophies. My kids will not play national tournaments anymore. Good luck US Chess.

    • US Chess has $2.5 million in assets, growing steadily at 500K per year. And they want to save 5 grand on trophies at the expense of the very kids that are the future lifeblood of chess in this country? Look at page 38 of this year’s annual report: on the goals of scholastic chess the page is full of pictures of smiling kids proudly holding huge trophies. “We received positive feedback.” Sure, a couple of people said that but I’ll bet they were vastly outnumbered by those who want big trophies. You want to see what kids want? When they get on the stage, offer them a choice of a big trophy or a medal, and see what you’re left with at the end of the ceremony.

  9. Congratulations to everyone. I would like to invite all of these players to play in their State championship and qualify for either the Denker 9-12, Barber 6-8,Rockefeller K-5 or the Haring girls K-12. College/University scholarships will be available for top three in each event. These invitational events will take place at the US Open site from August 8-11 in St. Charles, MO.

  10. We award nice cups instead of huge trophies to only our K-8 Open and K-12 Open sections at the So Cal State Championship. These older, higher-rated players are there for the competition, not the trophies. For younger, less-traveled players, trophies will win the day.

  11. Where can I access the photos the press from the weekend took? My child had some taken of them, yet I can’t seem to find these photos, and I’d really like to.

  12. Isn’t becoming a national champion enough? Think about all the kids out there who would’ve eagerly taken your places at the small cost of not receiving a trophy. To all those who complained that their child has not gotten a trophy, what have they gotten in return? The National Championship. I’m sure it’s any kid’s dream to take the place of your son or daughter who was fortunate enough to take a place on the podium. Take a moment to look in from the outside point of view.

    • Trophies aren’t given out to just the 1st place winner, they go to the top 15 or 20 (depending on the grade). Is being the 15th place winner “enough” such that a kid doesn’t need to have a trophy and shouldn’t be disappointed? No, especially where the USCF did not effectively communicate the change beforehand.

      Kids worked months to get the big trophy, thought they had finally earned it, only to be given a medal like every other participant there. My kid started taking his medal off before he even got off the stage. Sounds like (from the descriptions above of kids crying) other kids were similarly disappointed at this poorly communicated, and ill-thought-out switch. Certainly, and contrary to your point, none of my kid’s friends were jealous of his medal, or will be dreaming of taking his place in order to get their own medal.

    • Why does it have to be a choice between a trophy and a National Championship? According to your logic, why give them medals? Why put their pictures in an article? Why have a closing ceremony? Why give them rating points? After all, the National Championship should be enough. Even the Kindergartners are mature enough to be satisfied with the sense of accomplishment. Give those whining team champions their lousy trophies instead. They obviously need them to feel good about themselves.

    • I would defenitely have to disagree with you, because when people are playing their games their motivation is that they will get a big trophy so that they can show their friends and say that they won a NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP. It clearly isnt just a dream to take a place on the podium as many people were crying because of what is essentialy a gigantic participation medal. No one goes to nationals for that, we want the big trophies back. US Chess has made a big mistake and I personally talked to the winner of the 9th grade championship he hated his medal so much. Even the 14th place trophy looked better than it.

      • Yes I agree with Anish the only reason kids come to nationals is because they want to big trophies. Every year I come second and this year I was hoping of winning a big trophy on stage and i was extremely disappointed when uschess gave out medals instead and the sad thing was all medals were the same size.

      • Yes, I agree with Anish kids compete in nationals to win big trophies. When I came first place I was happy since I always came second and I was hoping to win a national championship trophy but I got a bigger participation medal instead.

  13. The World Youth and Cadet give 3 medals in each class. The PanAm Youth gives medals. The Olympiad gives medals. The Olympics give medals.

    • You missed the point, like someone above said “Trophies have been hallmark for Nationals and the aspirations for the kids to strive to win for their hardwork”. Why changed it this year? We like the tradition!

    • I don’t believe that a Kindergarten player would have the same mindset as a 29 year old especially when it comes to trophies and awards. If they did, then US Chess shouldn’t have given trophies at previous national events.

    • Maybe if the kids won as much money as Nepomniachtchi, they would be as happy with a medal, US chess should consider a $1000 check for first place to cover the cost of the trip for the winner.

  14. What US Chess did is a horrible idea. The trophies were big and great and everyone would always be impressed when you showed them something like that. Now that they changed the system to medals who cares about participation medals. Just because 1/10000000000000 people like the change doesnt mean you can say that you guys have received positive feedback. Look at all the negative feedback you guys are getting. The system should immediately be changed back to the trophy system as that is the driving motivation for every kid to do good at nats. Quite honestly chess has a reputation as a nerdy boring game which is irrelevant in the game world. However, when you show the trophies to other people they become extremely impressed. When you show the medals it cements the nerdy irrelevant reputation of chess. Please change back to the Big trophy system. As a high school player I know how much people want the trophies.

  15. wow look at the pictures of the second graders with their medals, they look so…….like they just had to wipe away tears and are putting on a brave face for the camera…….

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