Elementary Nationals in Nashville: Don’t Take the Draw

ChzSsWMW0AAW6U0You usually expect a few upsets at Nationals, but no one expected what happened in Round 1 this year.

In the K-6 Championship, 1348 rated Dominic Colombo pulled off one of the biggest first round upsets in Nationals History, by defeating a player rated 2200+ on Board 1. I talked to Dominic after the game and he said:

“He offered me a draw in the middlegame but I was up a pawn and I was going to win more material, so I declined.”

It takes a lot of courage for a 1300 player to decline a draw against a 2200. His dad told me after the game “Thank goodness he didn’t take the draw, or else Ben Finegold would have gone crazy!” Ben Finegold is notorious for telling his students never to accept draws, and it paid off bigtime for Dominic.

2nd seeded Christopher Shen is now on Board 1, and is the only 2200+ player to finish with 2/2.

Other players to watch are

#3 ranked Samrug Narayanan: Samrug won a nice game with the c3 Sicilian in Round 2.

#5 ranked Arthur Guo: Arthur is only in third grade yet he drew a Grandmaster in his last tournament!

In the K-5 Championship, Maximillian Lu is the player to beat. He’s played quite well and won both of his games to start with 2/2. Max is famous for recently beating the U.S. record for youngest master ever.


Others to watch are:

#2 ranked Nate Shuman: Nate just barely scraped by to win his Round 2 game, but sometimes a tough game early gets you ready for the challenges you’ll face later on.

In the K-3 Championship, Nico Chasin (2051 USCF) has been playing impressive chess in the first two rounds, and had to be happy to see the only other 2000+ player held to a draw in round 2.

Others to watch:

Christopher Yoo: The only player left with 2/2 who is above 1900.

K-1 Championship

Harshid Kunka is just 6 years old yet he’s already above 1600. Trust me that it’s very difficult to be so high rated when you are only six. He is the top seed but there are a few other 1500+ players in the field. I think they should accelerate the pairings in the K-1 more than usual, due to the relatively lack of draws at this level. It wouldn’t shock me to see two players finish with a perfect 7-0. For instance right now there are 61 players with a 2/2 score.


Others to watch:

Nitish Nath: Nitish is in first grade and rated 1563. I’m mainly impressed with him because one thing that’s obvious is that everyone moves really fast in the K1 section. Within 30 minutes over half the games are over, including many of the games on the top board. However Nitish and his opponent played at the pace you’d expect a seasoned vet to play. If Nitish is capable of spending all of his time during the game, this could give him a big leg up on his opponents.

Aside from the tournament, GM Irina Krush played a simul and gave a blitz exhibition. The kids went absolutely bananas over Irina. It’s a great initiative for US Chess to bring superstars like Irina to their National events.

Follow the action today and tomorrow on our twitter @USChess and find pairings and standings here.  


  1. Greg,
    Great article! Huge shout out to NM Dominique Myers for all of the teaching and mentoring for Dominic Colombo (skype lessons rock)! Lotsa credit for that upset goes to him!
    I think the new motto of the Columbia County Chess Club (Dominic’s home club in Augusta, GA) might be “Don’t take the draw!”

  2. I found from the crosstable he beat California NM Alexander Costello. Congratulations! The master’s name would clearly have been in the article if a southerner beat a New York player.

    • I disagree. Greg also refrained from giving the names of early upset victims while reporting on the K-9.

      • Seems dumb when US Chess promoted all the top players and you can look up the result on a crosstable.

  3. Accelerating is not a magic bullet that automatically reduced perfect scores. In some cases acceleration can increase the number of perfect scores (if round two sees more than half of the lower-rated 1-0 players beating the upper-rated 0-1 players – possible when ratings are still in flux due to the rapid improvement of young players). The K-1 section had 61 2-0 players but K-1 finished with only one 7-0 player (without accelerating the max would have been 79 2-0 players and with accelerating and no draws it could have been as low as 40 and as high as 120). The number of draws may not have been many with the higher-rated K-1 players, but they were still plenty. That is why acceleration isn’t even considered until 256 players are in the section (double the number where a local tournament might start considering acceleration).

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