Co-Champions at the 2023 NHS!

Editor's note (April 3, 2023): This article will be updated with more photos as they arrive, please continue to check back.



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IM Jason Wang finished first on tiebreaks (photo Caroline King)


Co-National Champions!

In the penultimate round, FM Jason Wang beat FM Gus Huston, leaving him alone at the top. Wang maintained the tension in a Closed Catalan, and eventually Huston underestimated the potency of Wang’s kingside attack. From there, the game was swiftly decided.



Just a half-point behind the leader were FMs Nico Chasin, Sandeep Sethuraman, and Sharvesh Deviprasath. Deviprasath scored a particularly impressive victory, getting his opponent into uncharted waters by the fourth move.



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Deviprasath was all smiles from the start of his final game (photo Caroline King)


In the seventh (and final) round, Wang and Chasin’s 16-move draw guaranteed the former at least a share of the title, but Deviprasath (playing Black) found a well-calculated variation that brought his three most powerful pieces into White’s camp with lethal effect, thus giving him a share of the title. Seven players finished on the champions’ heels with 6 points.



Dalton, with 22 points, convincingly won the top team honors. Not only did they distance themselves by an incredible two points, but just for good measure, they had three extra players who could have counted as the fourth board. WFM Iris Mou led the team with 6/7. NM Nate Shuman and Ryan Peterson each added 5½/7 to the tally, with the take-your-pick group of FM Gus Huston, William Safranek, Joyji Sakada, and Max Mottola all finishing with 5/7. The balanced team (four players each scored 5/7) from Thomas Jefferson HS (VA) earned second place, and Hunter College Campus, just a half-point behind, earned the bronze.


K-12 Under 1900

Chance Nguyen lost in round six, and was thus leap-frogged by her victor (Naren Pullela) in the standings heading into the final round. Nguyen had a crushing attack playing White in a Najdorf that had gone wrong for Black, but, as is often the case in the Sicilian, the margin for error was razor-thin. Suddenly, Nguyen had nothing, and Pullela cruised to victory.



Fortunately for Nguyen, in round seven Harper Wallace jumped over the jumper with a victory over Pullela. Pullela again made a daring choice in the opening, sacrificing an Exchange on the white side of a Grunfeld. But Wallace remained cool, returning material at the appropriate time. The game was headed towards a draw before Pullela decided to force matters with a perpetual check instead of recapturing a rook. Except, there was no perpetual check!



Meanwhile, Nguyen got back to her winning ways with a positionally dominant victory in the final round.



When the dust settled, Chance Nguyen and Harper Wallace finished in first and second with 6/7 ahead of six players on 5½/7.

Thomas Jefferson HS (VA), which was led by Nguyen, was the first place team with 20 points. That was one point ahead of Wallace’s team, IS318 (NY). Evanston Township HS (IL) took third with 16 points.


K-12 Under 1600

Manuel Alvare (FL) and Simon Kravitz (PA) emerged unscathed after six rounds and were thus justly paired against each other on that section’s top board in the final round. Alvare’s impressive sixth-round win saw him navigating the unpleasant task of defending against a ferocious Stonewall attack. But one error in judgment from his opponent allowed him to seize the initiative, and that’s all he needed.



Kravitz showed great resiliency in his sixth-round victory, as well. After holding a slightly worse position most of the game, he equalized in a rook-and-bishop endgame. As is often the case for players who spend most of the game pushing for a win, his opponent underestimated the danger he was now in, walking into a painful tactic.



As they were a full point ahead of the field, the resulting draw gave Alvare and Kravitz scores of 6½/7 and a one-two finish with Alvare snagging the first-place medal on tie-breaks over Kravitz. Five players tied for 3rd-7th with an even six points. The sixth place finisher, Jackson Bennett (CA) was heard lamenting “One move! I lost by just one move!” Such is chess.

Gulliver Prep (FL) traveled to the top of the team standings with 20½ points and could not be tied down by their numerous competitors. Two Pennsylvania schools, Julia Masterman (second) and Abington HS (third), were each one point behind the Gulliver team.


K-12 Under 1200

After starting out rated third (1190) in this 356-player section, Zachary Nowel (NJ) climbed a measly two spots, but rumor has it that he was not complaining about his perfect 7-0 score and his first-place medal! An important lesson can be taken from Nowel’s round six win: the key to consistency is patience.



All by himself in second place was Porter Hamada (IL) with six wins and a draw. Eleven players tied for third through thirteenth place.

The future looks very bright for Abington HS (PA) as their U1200 team cruised to a first-place finish two-and-a-half points ahead of their nearest rival (Thomas Jefferson).


K-12 Under 800

Andrew Warmenhoven scorched the field with a perfect 7/7! His last-round victory was one of the most entertaining of the entire tournament. After achieving a winning position, his opponent found a couple clever ways to generate enough activity to claw back into the game. The resulting endgame required enough finesse to flummox players in the top sections, and surely Warmenhoven let out a sigh of relief when the game ended.



Jackson Turnage (MO), Andrew Lun (NY), and Sanjay Subramanian (MD) tied for second through fourth (earning medals on tie-breaks as listed) with an impressive 6½/7.

Renaissance High School (MI) edged Northwest HS (Germantown, MD) by one tiny tie-break point (85 to 84!) to send them home with a trophy that reads First Place. Players from Northwest can legitimately tell their grandkids “Back in ’23, we tied for first in the K-12 U800 section in Washington D.C.!”


K-12 Unrated

Mohit Maringati (PA) said, “Checkmate!” (or “I accept your resignation”) seven times in a row, and that landed him on top! His final win was a masterclass in attacking chess.



Finishing with 6½ points, and in the following tie-break order, were Troy Merritt (WA) and Aamir Quadri (IL).

The team from New Oxford (PA) earned first place, and they can thank a Mr. Ellis from Detroit whose impassioned plea convinced Director of Events Boyd Reed to include five team trophies in the Unrated section at the last minute. Watch for that Wells Fargo Wagon, New Oxford - it has your team trophy!


The Scholar Chess Player Awards

Sunday at the National High School Championships always starts out by recognizing an incredible group from our community – the recipients of the Scholar Chess Player Awards. FM Sunil Weeramantry, representing the National Scholastic Chess Foundation (NSCF) made the presentation with support from WIM Beatriz Marinello (US Chess Trust) and the Executive Director of US Chess, Carol Meyer. The US Chess Trust donates $6,500 and the NSCF $2,500. US Chess collects the applications and helps administer the awards. The recipients are each awarded with $1,500 scholarships.


Scholar Chess Players
The presentation ceremony at the 2023 National High School (K-12) Championship in Washington, D.C., on April 2, 2023. From left to right: Carol Meyer, US Chess Executive Director; NTD Anand Dommalapati, Chief Tournament Director; IM Maximillian Lu; Eugene Yoo; FM Jason Wang; IM Arthur Guo; WIM Beatriz Marinello, US Chess Trust President. Not pictured: FM Sunil Weeramantry, National Scholastic Chess Foundation Executive Director; Aditya Gupta, and Gaayarthri Binoj. Photo by Caroline King.


This year’s recipients were: IM Arthur Guo (GA), NM Aditya Gupta (IL), IM Maximillian Lu (CT), IM Jason Wang (OH), and NM Eugene Yoo (NY).

A new award is the Chess Ambassador Award. Sunil pointed out that the winners above are all rated at least 2200. To win the Chess Ambassador Award, the first requirement is that the applicant must be rated under 2000! This year’s recipient was: Gaayathri Binoj (MO), who also receives a scholarship of $1,500.

Congratulations to these chess players who are demonstrating excellence beyond the chess board.


Sunil’s Prodigal Seniors of Hunter College Campus

In the first report, I told you that FM Sunil Weeramantry’s K-1 National Champs from over ten years ago have come out of retirement for one last scholastic event. After more research, I found that there were actually five players who became teammates on Hunter sports teams as well and had continued to compete at Nationals for all those years. Those five seniors convinced their friends who played on the team a decade ago (and played sparingly in the meantime) to jump back onto the 64 squares for one last battle with their famed coach. In the end, it was nine seniors who made the trip to D.C. this year: Marcus Mellody, Connor Dong, Dylan Slowik, Brian Wolfson, Bradley Rodriguez, Declan Walsh, Merlin Gogolin, Karthik Tambar, and Hamilton Shillingford.

Just before the final round, I caught up with some of them and realized that they are truly a well-rounded bunch of friends. Marcus, Connor and Dylan are captains of the baseball team. Merlin and Connor captain the basketball team, Declan is the captain of the wrestling team, and Brian captains the Ultimate Frisbee team! Bradley played baseball and is headed to Yale. Karthik does art and theater, and Hamilton plays basketball and is in so many plays that he earned the nickname “Hollywood”!

Connor (who has committed to play baseball at the University of Chicago) beamed as he looked at his teammates and said, “It’s just so cool to come here with my friends,” and later added, “This is the toughest competition we have ever faced!” Merlin (who will play basketball at MIT) harkened back to the days when he was a nervous elementary-school student while playing at Nationals. “Now that we are men, we can step back and be calmer when we play.” Brian chimed in with, “This one is special. It’s our last one.” 

Bradley summed it all up: “We came here to have fun. It’s been as great as any tournament ever.”

The team had a moment to address each other: students, coach, and parents. Connor shared the team’s appreciation of Sunil and their parents for so many years of dedication. Then it was Sunil’s turn. He said that this group was indeed a special one because they never cared who was number one on the team: they just supported each other.


Baltimore Kids Chess League - Title I Schools National Event Grant Recipient

BKCL Executive Director Christina Soares was first a teacher, then a part-time chess coach, and is now enthusiastically growing chess in the inner-city schools of Baltimore! During the pandemic, the number of schools in the program had fallen to the teens. Now, there are 58 schools with thriving chess programs! I had a chance to sit down with Christina and get her take on the power of chess.

“I had never encountered a game that taught accountability like chess does. When you make a move you have to deal with the repercussions of that move. YOU. You made the move. YOU have to deal with it.” 

BKCL brought 46 players from seven teams. They brought eight passionate coaches and even had a principal stop by and play chess with the kids.

“Without the grant, we would have brought way less players. WAY less.” She continued, “This gives Baltimore’s inner-city kids an opportunity they would never get otherwise. These kids have skills that need to be seen. This event gives them that opportunity. Being here gives them a window to the world outside their neighborhoods. Seeing 1,700 other kids who are also passionate about chess sends the message that they are doing something worthwhile.”

On Wednesday, they hosted the group from Chicago (see yesterday’s report), played chess, and ate pizza. Christina told me, “One of the kids said, ‘This is the first time since before the pandemic that we have been able to just play chess without it being a competition. It’s really nice.’ “


Coaches & Parents…

In case you don’t already use this gem, it was great to run into Coach Brown (in D.C. with a team from University of Detroit Jesuit) who I heard years back asking her students in Nashville “Did you win or did you learn?” I have stolen it, used it, shared it, and never paid her a cent of royalty fees. Thanks, Coach Brown!

Special thanks to Patricia Brennan who assisted in editing this series. Thanks, Patti!


Statement from US Chess

One of the popular additions to US Chess national events in recent years has been our live Twitch streaming. Unfortunately, a situation arose on Saturday. US Chess Spokesperson Dan Lucas tells CLO, “During the official US Chess Twitch stream on Saturday, April 1, a player being interviewed exhibited unsportsmanlike behavior by disparaging another player. US Chess has taken immediate steps to prevent this in the future—we will no longer have live player interviews during our streams.  

“Chess has a storied history of both sportsmanship and a healthy respect for both opponents and the game itself. We thank the players who uphold this tradition. We are disappointed whenever we see this tradition broken by anyone at our events—whether players, parents, or coaches—and we encourage all participants to practice good sportsmanship principles. We want US Chess national events to be a positive experience for all participants, but especially so for our scholastic competitors.” 

Editor's note (April 3, 2023): Earlier reports referred to IM Jason Wang as an FM. He has met all the requirements for his IM norm, and his new title has officially gone into effect.