2023 K-12 Grades: Final Report and Games

The final two rounds of the 2023 K-12 Grade Level Championships in Orlando, Florida, this past weekend lived up to expectations as players of equal levels clashed head to head in over 2,400 games. On the top boards, there were over two dozen games in the final round in which both players were rated over 2000. But, as we know, it’s not the rating that determines the winner, and so it is now (after the tournament) that we can finally reveal the National Champions of each grade.

Note: Team totals are based on the combined final points of the top three scorers from a school within the same grade section.

Editor's Note: All annotations by JJ Lang.


12th Grade

Left: Huston (R) and Lu (Back, right) during their decisive victories Right: Nura Baalla (Front, left) and Hyatt square off, Lyon (Back, left) joined Hyatt in the tie for third (All photos Caroline King)


IM-elect Gus Huston (NY) and IM Max Lu (CT) drew their round six encounter and won their other games to finish where they started: at the top of the standings. Just a half-point back were Juan Pablo Lyon (FL) and Jessica Hyatt (NY). Below are key moments from the final-round games of each of the top four finishers:






The Dalton seniors completed their “decade of dominance,” winning their grade level for the 10th consecutive year. Their total of 17 points out of a possible 21 landed them a full three points ahead of the second and third place teams: Success Academy HS Liberal Arts (NY) and Whitney Young HS (IL) which each tallied 14 points.


11th Grade

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Kaplan (R) defeated Aarush Vinod in 99 moves to claim the 11th grade section outright


Avi Kaplan (IL) is the 2023 National 11th Grade Champion. His 6½/7 score edged out Joseph Levine (NV) and Haari Muthukumar (NJ). All three won their final games on the top three boards to earn their spot on the medal stand.

This section saw a considerable shake-up in round six when Virginia’s Aarush Vinod (2210) upset IM Nico Chasin in a fantastically sharp clash:



Then, Kaplan (who held Chasin to a highly entertaining draw in round five, covered in yesterday’s report), battled Vinod in 99 moves in round seven before claiming the title outright with a victory in a theoretically drawn rook endgame that is much harder to hold in practice.



Highlights from Levine and Muthukumar’s final rounds are below, including Joseph Levine’s victory in the first-annual Battle of the Levines:




With an impressive 16 points, Columbia Grammar & Prep School (CGPS) of New York cruised to a two-point victory over second-place Stuyvesant of New York (14 points). Hunter College Campus (NY) earned third with 13½/21.


10th Grade

Gao Ngo
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FMs Marvin Gao (L) and Bach Ngo played one of the more nail-biting draws of the final round


A final round draw between FMs Marvin Gao (FL) and Bach Ngo (FL) translated into a co-championship between the two Floridian FMs at 6/7. Behind them were no fewer than six players at 5½/7. While some last-round draws were quick – or, at the very least, calm – Gao and Ngo traded haymakers in the All-Floridian duel. Below is their last-round draw and each of their sixth-round victories that set up their showdown:





Over the final two rounds on Sunday, American Heritage (FL) managed to earn just a half-point more than runner-up Livingston HS (NJ), but with a total of 15½ points, it was enough to make them National Champions. Stuyvestant HS (NY) earned the bronze with 14½/21.


Ninth Grade

Left: IM-Elect Brewington Hardaway and fellow New Yorker Aiden Reiss during their last-round draw Right: Erick Zhao seizing the opportunity to join the leaders

IM-Elect Brewington Hardaway (NY) drew as Black in the final round against Aiden Reiss (NY), leaving an opening that Erick Zhao (PA) seized. His final round win leveled him up with Hardaway and Reiss at 6 points apiece, thus giving us three Co-Champions. A gang of eight players finished with a total of 5½/7 points making this one of the tightest-finishing sections of the event. Below are Zhao’s final victory and Reiss’s and Hardaway’s sixth-round wins:





As in the 11th grade section, CGPS recorded 16 team points, just edging the Gainesville, Florida, team of Buchholz High School which finished with 15½ points. Stuyvestant earned another third-place finish with 15 points.


Eighth Grade

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Texas's Eric Chiang Liu claimed clear first in the eighth grade section thanks to a decisive last-round win


FM Eric Liu (TX) prevailed over section leader Nikash Vemparala in the final round to finish with 6½/7 and become National Champion. Second-ranked FM Brejesh Chakrabarti (FL) also won his final game which landed him in a tie for second with Vemparala and three others: Anjaneya Rao (IL), Nikolay Avdokhin (MA), and Michael Li (NY) at 6 points. It took Liu only 23 moves to finish his takeover of Vemparala in the standings:



Hunter College Campus won the team championship with 15 points. The scrappy team from Lincoln Middle School (FL) nipped at their heels with 14½ points. Success Academy Midtown West (NY) was a further full point behind, finishing third with 13½ points.

Editor’s note: Each section only features a few of the “top boards” on live display, and there are more boards for the “older” sections than the younger, making it harder to include games by second- and third-place finishers (or co-champions) as this report goes on.


Seventh Grade

A statistically improbable situation occurred when a total of 14 (!) players found themselves knotted at the top of the standings heading into the final round of the seventh grade section Sunday afternoon. Perhaps just as improbable was the fact that six of the 14 players were from New Jersey!


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Bobby Qian finished second on tiebreaks after six players tied for first in the seventh grade section


A draw would not be enough to finish as a co-champion, so there were a lot of hard-fought games in that final round. In the end, five of the seven critical games ended with a decisive result. The 2023 Seventh Grade Co-Champions are (in tie-break order): Aditeya Das (NY), Bobby Qian (NJ), Andrew Jiang (GA), Vihaan Saxena (NJ), and Alexander Sukhiashvili (NJ) who all finished with 6 points.

Another interesting quirk was that Jiang had requested a half-point bye in the final round. Despite leading the tournament by himself with 5½/6 going into the last round, then, the 14 players on 5/6 all knew that they were “win and in.”

For Jiang to still finish third on tiebreaks despite having one fewer opponent (and a high-scoring opponent, at that, as he would have played somebody who finished on 5½/7 had he played and drew his final round) speaks to the strength of his six opponents.  


Not surprisingly, it was a team from New Jersey that took the team title. Millburn High School’s 17 points was a point-and-a-half ahead of Speyer Legacy School (NY) which earned the silver medal (so to speak), with CGPS and Hunter landing third and fourth, respectively, with 15 points each. Below is a nice game from Qian in round seven:



Sixth Grade

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How impressive is Kyle Wang (R)'s 7/7 performance? Out of 13 sections, only Wang and the kindergarten champion swept their sections!


If New Jersey made an impact in the seventh-grade section, it was the Lone Star State that stood out in grade six. Top-ranked Kyle Wang won all seven games, with fellow Texan Srikar Kandikayala as the official runner-up, but tied with four others a full point behind Wang. The others finishing on 6/7 were Anmay Chaudhury (GA), Jagadeeshwar Sridhar (VA), Vijay Anandh (TX) and Ishaan Rajendran (NY). Here is the game where Wang kicked the extra point atop his touchdown (that’s what they call a 7/7 performance in Texas, right?)



The top five team awards belonged to New York. Collegiate School’s 15½ points  edged Success Academy MW and Dalton by the narrowest possible margin to earn the National Team Champions title.


Fifth Grade

Left: Tariq Yue (L) and Elliot Goodrich played a draw that was pivotal for the final standings
Center: Kyle Dong finished third on tiebreaks after drawing his game with Megan Paragua. 
Right: Paragua finished second on tiebreaks after drawing both Dong and Yue on the final day.


Draws on the top two boards allowed the winning players on the next four boards to jump into the highest group with a 6/7 score and become National Co-Champions. The Magnificent Seven are Tariq Yue (PA), WIM Megan Paragua (NY), Kyle Dong (NJ), Yuvraj Sawhney (CA), Glenn Zhang (CA), Derek Zhang (NY), and Phineas Weingarten (NY).

Yue’s quest to the top was far from easy, first holding Paragua to a draw in round six and then facing quite a challenge in the final round from Elliott Goodrich (NY), who needed a win to leapfrog Yue and join the leaders. Goodrich enjoyed a nice space advantage out of the opening, but Yue found the right moment for timely dynamics on the queenside to not only level things out but even come close to winning the game (and championship) outright. Also included is Kyle Dong's patient victory:



Speyer (NY) impressed with 16 points to win the title over PS 33 Chelsea Prep (NY) which had 14½/21, and Success Academy MW (NY) which grabbed another good-sized trophy by finishing third with 14 points.


Fourth Grade

Left: Zhu (R) finished first on tiebreaks after his win over the dapper Ryan Ratliff. Ratliff previously led the section with a 6/6 score. Right: Ayyappan (R) joined Zhu as Co-Champion after defeating Winsley Wu


Two fourth-graders already rated over 2000, Linxi Zhu (NY) and Santhosh Ayyappan (NJ) drew their round six encounter but beat everyone else. This paid off nicely as they now share the title of Co-Champions. The literal handful of five players right behind them with six points were Oscar Zhang (TX), Ryan Ratcliff (FL), Lev Shangin (NY), Jacob Wang (CA) and Siddharth Bhaskaran (WA).

Below are the final-round victories from the two Co-Champions:





In the team competition, it was another one-and-a-half-point margin of victory for Speyer (NY), but they have bragging rights over their fifth grade schoolmates who had a measly 16 points. The fourth grade team’s 16½ points was led by the above-mentioned Shangin’s six points. Finishing second was PS 77 Lower Lab (NY) which tallied 15 points. At 14½ points were Oak Hall (FL) and Anderson School (NY), finishing third and fourth, respectively, on tiebreaks.



In each of the remaining four sections (the youngest four), all but one team award went to school teams from New York. In each of those sections, the final award went to Oak Hall School from Gainesville, Florida. You will notice that this powerhouse earned top honors in third grade, first grade, and Kindergarten! In the second grade section, they spoiled New York’s possible run of the table by sneaking in for a tenth-place finish!


Third Grade

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Schaefer (L) claimed the third grade title all to himself thanks to his last-round win over Advik Manchanda


Sasha Schaefer defeated co-leader Advik Manchanda on the top board in the final round, so there will be no complaints about “unfair” tiebreaks in this section! Alone at 6½ points, he is the 2023 National Third Grade Champion. Seven tied with 6/7: Celine Chen (FL), Aakash Jani (FL), Aayansh Pramanik (NJ), Jayden Li (NJ), Nicole Yu (DE), Kevin Xu (NY), and Pranav Arun (NC). Schaefer’s final victory is below:



National Champions Oak Hall (FL) garnered 17½ points, separating themselves handily from second-place PS 77 Lower Lab, which had 15 points. PS 130K The Parkside School earned two-and-a-half points out of a possible three in the final round to jump into third place with 14½/21.


Second Grade

Left: Alluri (L) won his final-round game against Abigail Zhou as Aiden Li looked on Right: Katta finished first ahead of Alluri on tiebreaks


Sriansh Katta (NC) and Samanyu Alluri (MA) each defeated higher-rated players in the final round to become Co-Champions of the second grade section. Their 6½ points left them a half-point above five players: Aiden Li (IL), Stella Xin (IL), Ian Singh (NY), Terrick Evin (WA) and Tanush Dokka (VA). Below are Katta and Alluri’s final-round victories:




Speyer’s second grade team looks to be the early favorite to win the third grade title in 2024. They finished three full points ahead of two other school teams from New York: NEST+m School and Success Academy Union Square (13½ points each).


The kindergarten and first grade sections had their own playing hall (without live broadcasts of their games – ed.). After each round, they were corralled down a hallway and then into a large waiting area where anxious parents could claim them. As games finished in the final round, each player was given their participation medal and then groups of 10-20 players would be escorted the same as each of the previous rounds, but then something special happened.

As each group of kids left the playing hall, they were greeted by applause from all the waiting parents. The celebration began spontaneously, and continued for each group that came out of the playing hall. National Tournament Director Dr. Martha Underwood described it as “truly astonishing.”


First Grade

Muhammad (L) and Wu drew their final-round game to finish as Co-Champions, with Wu taking first place on tiebreaks.

Darren Wu (NY) and Mustafa Muhammad (NC) faced each other in the final round after having won their first six games. A draw between the two leaders meant that no one could catch them, so it’s just the two of them as co-champions of the first grade section. Five players entering round seven with five points won their final game to tie for third-through-seventh with six points apiece. In tie-break order: Brooks Jiang (MA), Emily Tang (IL), Avrora Okonova (NJ), Bo-Yuan Wang (NJ), and Alex Sedlock (NC).

The 2023 National First Grade Chess Champion team is Oak Hall (FL) with 14/21. Four New York schools finished one point back at 13 points: Speyer, Trinity School, Dalton, and PS 77 Lower Lab.



Mehmet Yilanli (1363) entered the tournament rated 400+ points ahead of his competition, and left with an unblemished 7/7 score. Julien Kulla (tied-fourth, sixth on tiebreaks) is seen studying the champ's moves.
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Mehmet Yilanli (1363) entered the tournament rated 400+ points ahead of his competition, and left with an unblemished 7/7 score. Julien Kulla (tied-fourth, sixth on tiebreaks) is seen studying the champ's moves.


Pre-tournament favorite Mehmet Yilanli (OH) swept the kindergarten section to earn the title of 2023 National Kindergarten Chess Champion. Matthew Wang (CA) and Luke Larochelle (RI) tallied 6 points each to finish second and third.

With 14½ points, Oak Hall (FL) continued its dominance in the lower-grade team competitions with another national title. Trinity School (NY) earned second place with 12½ points. Dalton was third with 11½ points.

Huge thanks to the staff and volunteers who worked so hard during this holiday season to bring cheer to over 2,400 young chess players!

Special thanks to Patricia Brennan who volunteered her time again to turn my misused “less” and “who” into the correct “fewer” and “which.” (I have no idea how to punctuate that sentence. Patti, help!)

Quick Links

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Results and pairings

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Twitch (rounds five through seven)

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