Tani Wins at NYS Scholastic Championships

The 52nd Annual New York State Scholastic Championships were held in Saratoga Springs, New York on March 9-10. This year’s tournament again broke records as 1218 players made the trek to Saratoga Springs. But one young man made a name for himself, and gained the attention of both national and international press along the way. HIGH SCHOOL In the High School section top seed FM Shawn Rodrigue-Lemieux scored an undefeated 5.5/6 to take clear first by a full point. Rodrigue-Lemieux is a 9th grader from Sophie Barat school in Montreal, Canada. After routine wins in rounds one and two Rodrigue-Lemieux defeated WIM Evelyn Zhu in round three, NM Max Li in round four and FM Qiuyu Huang in round five before drawing in round six with FM Vincent Tsay.

Rodrigue-Lemieux only needed the draw in round six for clear first and, since boards two and three drew, he wound up winning by a full point. The game that essentially decided first place was the round 5 encounter against fellow Canadian FM Huang.

[pgn] [Event "NYS Scholastic-ch HS"] [Site "Saratoga Springs,NY"] [Date "2019.03.10"] [White "Huang, Qiuyu"] [Black "Rodrigue Lemieux, Shawn"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "B13"] [WhiteElo "2266"] [BlackElo "2412"] [Annotator "Townsend,William"] [PlyCount "142"] 1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. exd5 cxd5 4. Bd3 Nc6 5. c3 Qc7 6. h3 g6 7. Qc2 Bg7 8. Nf3 Nf6 9. O-O O-O 10. Re1 Nh5 11. Be3 Nf4 12. Bxf4 Qxf4 13. Nbd2 e6 14. Re3 Rb8 15. Nb3 b6 16. Rae1 Bd7 17. g3 Qc7 18. Kg2 a5 19. h4 Rfc8 20. Qd1 a4 21. Nbd2 b5 22. a3 Na5 23. R3e2 Nc4 24. Nb1 Re8 25. Ne5 Bc6 26. f3 Ba8 27. h5 Qd8 28. hxg6 hxg6 29. f4 Bxe5 30. fxe5 Kg7 31. Rf2 Qg5 32. Qf3 Rb7 33. Qf6+ Qxf6 34. exf6+ Kh6 35. Bxc4 (35. Rf4 e5 36. Rg4 Ne3+ 37. Rxe3 e4 38. Rf4 Rbb8 39. Be2) 35... dxc4 36. Kh3 Rd7 37. Kg4 g5 38. Re5 Rd5 39. Rfe2 Kg6 40. Nd2 Kxf6 41. Ne4+ Ke7 42. Rxd5 Bxd5 43. Kxg5 Rg8+ 44. Kf4 Rh8 45. Nc5 Rh6 46. g4 Rh3 47. Rf2 f6 48. Na6 Rh1 49. Nb4 Bb7 50. Re2 Kd6 51. Nc2 Rh3 52. Rf2 Ba8 53. Nb4 Bb7 54. Nc2 Bc6 55. Nb4 Be8 56. Nc2 Bg6 57. Nb4 Rh1 58. Rg2 Rf1+ 59. Ke3 Re1+ 60. Kd2 Rh1 61. Ke3 Rh3+ 62. Kf4 Bd3 63. Na6 $2 (63. Nxd3 cxd3 64. Ke4 Kd7 65. Rd2 Rg3 66. Kf4) 63... e5+ 64. dxe5+ fxe5+ 65. Kg5 e4 66. Kf4 Rf3+ 67. Kg5 e3 68. Rg1 Rf1 69. Rxf1 Bxf1 70. Nb4 Bd3 71. Kf4 e2 0-1 [/pgn]
The New York State Champion titles are awarded to the top New York player and school. NM Max Li had the highest tiebreaks of any New York player among those tied for second place. Li scored 4.5 points losing only to Rodrigue-Lemieux and drawing with WFM Martha Samadashvili in the final round. Max has qualified to represent New York in the 2019 Denker Tournament of High School Champions. In round three, Li played a nice exchange sacrifice that nets him material, an attack and eventually the game.
[pgn] [Event "NYS Scholastic-ch HS"] [Site "Saratoga Springs,NY"] [Date "2019.03.09"] [White "Li, Max Jiahua"] [Black "Berger, Marcello"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "C05"] [WhiteElo "2261"] [BlackElo "2073"] [PlyCount "51"] 1. e4 e6 2. Nc3 d5 3. d4 Nf6 4. e5 Nfd7 5. f4 c5 6. Nf3 Nc6 7. Ne2 a6 8. c3 b5 9. Be3 Be7 10. Rc1 cxd4 11. cxd4 Bb7 12. Nc3 Nb6 13. Bd3 Nc4 14. Qe2 Qa5 15. O-O Rc8 16. Bb1 b4 17. Nd1 Qb6 $6 18. Rxc4 dxc4 19. d5 Bc5 20. dxc6 Bxc6 21. Qf2 Bb7 22. Nd2 c3 23. Nc4 Bxe3 24. Ndxe3 Qc6 25. Nd6+ Ke7 26. Be4 1-0 [/pgn]
The Canadians were not just content to win the individual honors – they also took team honors. Jean De Brebeuf from Montreal, Canada finished first in the team standings. New York’s Brooklyn Technical High School won the New York State title, finishing ahead of Edward R. Murrow on tiebreaks. The high school sections also have mixed doubles teams. The winning team was Nancy Wang and Calvin Yang with 8.5 points out of 12. JUNIOR HIGH Canadian players continued their winning ways in the Junior High School section., which finished with a four-way tie for first. NM Kevin Zhong scored 5 out of 6 and had the highest tiebreaks to claim the first place trophy. Zhong drew with FM Nico Chasin in round 4 and Jack Levine in round 5 and won the rest of his games.
Jack Levine (photo Phil Ferguson)

Jack Levine drew with Zhong in round 5 and defeated Chasin in round 6 to finish at 5-1.  Here is the game between two of the co-champions with Levine's notes.

[pgn] [Event "NYS Scholastic Championship"] [Site "?"] [Date "2019.03.09"] [White "Levine, Jack"] [Black "Zhong, Kevin"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "B24"] [WhiteElo "2079"] [BlackElo "2236"] [Annotator "Jack Levine"] [PlyCount "45"] 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. g3 Nc6 5. Bg2 e6 6. d3 Nge7 7. O-O O-O 8. Re1 (8. Be3) 8... d5 $5 9. e5 Rb8 10. h4 b5 11. a3 b4 12. Na4 bxa3 13. Rxa3 Qc7 14. Nxc5 (14. Bf4) (14. Bg5) 14... Nxe5 (14... Bxe5 15. d4 Bd6 16. Rc3) 15. Nxe5 Qxc5 $6 16. d4 Qb6 17. Rb3 Qc7 18. Bf4 Rxb3 19. Nxg6 Qd8 20. Nxe7+ Qxe7 21. cxb3 Bb7 $2 (21... Qb4) 22. Qg4 (22. Be5 $5) 22... Kh8 23. h5 $16 { Unfortunately, due to time trouble a draw was offered in this position and was accepted despite white's better position.} 1/2-1/2 [/pgn]
NM Gus Huston finished in second place on tiebreaks. As the top finishing New York player, Huston has earned the right to represent New York at the 2019 Barber Tournament of K-8 Champions. Huston provided some notes to one of his critical games.
[pgn] [Event "NYS Scholastic Championship"] [Site "?"] [Date "2019.03.09"] [White "Huston, Gus"] [Black "Galpern, Robbie"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B01"] [WhiteElo "2225"] [BlackElo "1823"] [Annotator "Gus Huston"] [PlyCount "110"] 1. e4 d5 2. exd5 Nf6 3. Bb5+ Nbd7 4. Nc3 a6 5. Be2 Nb6 6. Nf3 Bg4 7. h3 Bh5 8. O-O Nbxd5 9. Nxd5 Nxd5 10. d4 e6 11. c4 Nf6 12. b3 Be7 13. Bb2 O-O 14. Ne5 Bxe2 15. Qxe2 c6 16. Rad1 Qc7 17. Rd3 Rfd8 18. Rfd1 c5 19. dxc5 ({I did not realize that after} 19. d5 {the d-pawn would not be able to be stopped, so I instead went to a position with a smaller advantage.} exd5 20. cxd5 Bd6 21. Ng4 Nxg4 22. Qxg4 f6 23. Bxf6 $16) 19... Bxc5 20. Ng4 Nxg4 21. Qxg4 Bf8 22. Qg5 (22. Be5 Qe7 23. Bd6 Qf6 24. c5 Bxd6 25. Rxd6 $16 {White has a lot of pressure, and it looks very umcomfortable for Black.}) 22... Qe7 23. Qd2 Rxd3 24. Qxd3 g6 $2 25. Qd4 e5 26. Qxe5 Qxe5 27. Bxe5 Bc5 28. Bf6 Bb6 29. Rd6 {is still better or winning, but Rd7 was much better.} (29. Rd7 Rb8 30. b4 $18) 29... Bc7 30. Rd7 Rc8 31. Kf1 Kf8 $11 32. Ke2 Ke8 33. Rd4 Bb6 34. Rh4 h5 35. Re4+ Kf8 36. b4 Bd8 37. Bb2 $2 {I was reluctant to go into a rook endgame because of their tendencies to be draws, but in this case Black's King is cut off, making it an easy win.} (37. Bxd8 Rxd8 38. a3 $18) 37... Be7 38. c5 b6 $2 {My opponent was in time trouble and miscalculated, though it would have been much better for White anyway.} 39. cxb6 Rc2+ 40. Kd3 Rxb2 41. Rxe7 Kxe7 42. Kc3 Kd6 43. Kxb2 Kc6 44. a4 Kxb6 45. Kc3 f6 46. Kd4 Kc6 47. f4 h4 48. Kc4 g5 49. f5 Kd6 50. b5 axb5+ 51. axb5 Ke5 52. b6 Kxf5 53. b7 g4 54. b8=Q gxh3 55. gxh3 Kg5 {Black Resigned} 1-0 [/pgn]
Kyle Lancman also scored 5-1. He lost to Zhong in round three, but won out to finish at 5-1 and take fourth place on tiebreaks. Here is Lancman’s round two victory featuring a sharp Dragon attack.
[pgn] [Event "NYS Scholastic Championship"] [Site "?"] [Date "2019.03.09"] [White "Buchanan, Ian"] [Black "Lancman, Kyle"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "B78"] [WhiteElo "1660"] [BlackElo "1869"] [PlyCount "56"] 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 g6 5. Nc3 Bg7 6. Be3 Nf6 7. Bc4 O-O 8. Bb3 d6 9. f3 Bd7 10. Qd2 Rc8 11. O-O-O Ne5 12. Bh6 Nc4 13. Bxc4 Rxc4 14. Bxg7 Kxg7 15. Rdg1 Qb6 16. Nb3 a5 17. g4 a4 18. Na1 Rfc8 19. Nd1 Rd4 20. Qe1 Be6 21. a3 Nd7 22. h4 Ne5 23. Qg3 Ba2 24. Nf2 Nc4 25. Nd1 Rxd1+ 26. Kxd1 Qd4+ 27. Ke2 Qd2+ 28. Kf1 Ne3# 0-1 [/pgn]
IS 318 was a clear favorite in the team competition as their top four had an average rating of 1831 and they had the most players of any team. As a point of reference, the next highest four rated players in the event had an average rating of 1681. IS 318 cruised to victory with a team that boasted quality and quantity. ELEMENTARY The Elementary Championship had three players rated over 2000. In the end, Caleb Klenoff a 5th grader from Westchester Torah Academy in New Rochelle, NY won with a perfect 6-0 score. Klenoff started as the third seed and defeated second seeded Iris Mou enroute to winning the event. Klenoff was the only 6-0 in the championship section. Here is his last round win:
[pgn] [Event "NYS Scholastic Championship"] [Site "?"] [Date "2019.03.10"] [White "Klenoff, Caleb"] [Black "Bopala, Prince Eric Guipi"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "C56"] [WhiteElo "2005"] [BlackElo "1850"] [PlyCount "75"] 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 exd4 4. Bc4 Nf6 5. e5 d5 6. Bb5 Ne4 7. Nxd4 Bd7 8. Bxc6 bxc6 9. O-O Be7 10. f3 Nc5 11. f4 Ne4 12. c3 c5 13. Nc2 c6 14. Nd2 Nxd2 15. Bxd2 O-O 16. f5 Re8 17. Qf3 Bg5 18. Bf4 Bxf4 19. Qxf4 g6 20. f6 Re6 21. g4 Qf8 22. Rae1 Rb8 23. b3 Ree8 24. Rf2 Rb7 25. h4 h6 26. Rg2 Rbb8 27. h5 g5 28. Qf2 Rb7 29. Qg3 Rbb8 30. Rd2 Rb7 31. Kh2 Be6 32. Ne3 Rbb8 33. Nf5 Bd7 34. Rde2 Rb6 35. Ne7+ Kh8 36. e6 Rxe7 37. fxe7 Qxe7 38. exd7 1-0 [/pgn]
The team champion was Speyer Legacy School. Speyer was the strongest team and had the highest rating of any team at 1845. They were led by the top seeded player Brewington Hardaway who wound up finishing in second place in the tournament with a score of 5-1. PRIMARY The primary championship ended in a bit of a surprise. Tanitoluwa Adewumi was the eighth seed and was rated over 200 points less than the top seeded players. Still, Adewumi finished in clear first place with 5.5/6.

The end result might have been a surprise to some, but to those who know Tani, it was no surprise at all. His chess prowess is very impressive as he has only been playing for one year and has shot up from 105 to 1587 in 12 months! Certainly, Tani has a long way to go, but it will be interesting to watch his progress! Here is Tani's only available game from the tournament.

[pgn] [Event "NYS Scholastic Championship"] [Site "?"] [Date "2019.03.19"] [Round "4"] [White "Kong, Milo"] [Black "Adewumi, Tanitoluwa"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "B00"] [WhiteElo "1371"] [BlackElo "1473"] [PlyCount "60"] 1. e4 b6 2. d4 Bb7 3. Bd3 Nf6 4. f3 e6 5. c4 d5 6. e5 dxc4 7. Bxc4 Nd5 8. Nc3 Bb4 9. Bd2 Qh4+ 10. g3 Qxd4 11. Nxd5 Qxe5+ 12. Ne3 Qxe3+ 13. Be2 Qxd2+ 14. Qxd2 Bxd2+ 15. Kxd2 Ke7 16. Rc1 Rd8+ 17. Ke3 Rd7 18. Nh3 h6 19. g4 g5 20. Rhd1 Rxd1 21. Bxd1 c5 22. Nf2 Nc6 23. Nd3 Nd4 24. b4 Rd8 25. bxc5 b5 26. Ne5 Rd5 27. c6 Rxe5+ 28. Kxd4 Rd5+ 29. Ke3 Bc8 30. Be2 Kd6 {and Black eventually won.} 0-1 [/pgn]
Update: Agadmator, one of YouTube's leading chess streamers, has done a video on Tani's game. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i3QMrf-Rfeo Tani’s story has received a lot of attention in the national and international press. It turns out that Tani and his family are refugees from Nigeria, currently (as of March 19) living in a homeless shelter while their asylum process unfolds. The New York Times did an excellent story on his victory, and as did the Spanish newspaper El Pais.
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A GoFundMe campaign has been set up to support Tani and his family. As this goes to press, over $168,000 has been raised in only three days! (Note: this link is provided for informational purposes only.) Speyer and Dalton won the team competition with 15.5 points. Speyer edged Dalton on tiebreaks. KINDERGARTEN The Kindergarten/first grade championship was one by Christian Bartolini on tiebreaks over Suvan Baranwal each with 5.5 points. The team competition was won by Hunter College Elementary School (powered by Bartolini) on tiebreaks over Avenues: The World School each with 15.5 points. SIDE EVENTS There were two side events. The Parents and friends side event was won by Giorgi Sukhiashvili with a perfect 4-0 score. The bughouse tournament was won by the team of Calvin Yang/Nancy Wang. It takes a lot of people to make a 1200+ player event successful. International Arbiter (IA) and National Tournament Director (NTD) Steve Immitt led the event. IA and NTD Sophia Rohde handled much of the event manager duties and logistical issues with Scholastic Council member Danny Rohde. Nils Grotnes provided webmaster support. IA and NTD David Hater led the accomplished crew of tournament directors. Full tournament details can be found at: www.chessevents.com/nyscholastics/. Previous Continental Chess tournaments can be found at the Continental Chess website at http://www.chesstour.com/cross.html.