Five Rounds Down as Championship Sunday Heats Up at K-12 Nationals

After three grueling rounds on Saturday, several highly anticipated showdowns in National Harbor are already under way Sunday morning in round six.

13 national titles will be decided today, with the final round beginning at 1:30 p.m. EST. Live commentary from WGM Sabina Foisor and FM Gauri Shankar will be available here for both of today’s rounds.

The awards ceremony for grades 2-12 will take place at 6:00 p.m. tonight in the Potomac Ballroom. Here’s who might be on stage there tonight.

In the twelfth-grade section, Floridian master Raghav Venkat is facing off against North Carolinian expert Arya Kumar in the battle of the two remaining players on perfect scores. While Venkat is the top seed, Kumar’s ascension is a bit of an upset, punctuated by her victory over Nathaniel Moor last night.


Moor versus Kumar
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Nathanial Moor versus Arya Kumar (photo David Llada)


The star-studded eleventh-grade section already had its battle of the top seeds. FM Sandeep Sethuraman beat FM Gus Huston in round five, and he now leads by himself. Playing White in a tense Moscow Sicilian, Huston had to make several committal decisions early on. After choosing the right central break, he made one unwise exchange and suddenly handed all the initiative to the Denker co-champ.


Sethuraman versus Huston
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Sethuraman versus Huston (photo David Llada)



IM Maximillian Lu, who was nicked for a draw in the second round yesterday, is clawing back nicely and now sits atop a pack of players with 4½/5. Derek Clasby was another highly rated name who was held to a draw in an earlier round. Here, an early initiative on the White side of a Four Knights faded after his opponent, Ryan Peterson, found a nice simplification tactic. Peterson then pushed a small advantage but was not able to convert. Clasby joins Lu a half-point behind Sethuraman.



Peterson versus Clasby
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Peterson versus Clasby (photo David Llada)


In the tenth grade section, Toshinori Underwood pulled an upset over Eshan Guha. Guha struggled to get anything from the white side of a Catalan, and the young expert made excellent choices about when to trade queens that secured the 200-point upset.



After five rounds, Underwood joined IM Eddy Tian and FM Nico Chasin atop the leaderboard with 5/5. But Tian and Chasin have agreed to a quick draw in round six at the time of writing, meaning Underwood has a chance to put either Tian or Chasin in a must-win position.


Underwood versus Guha
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Underwood (left) feels the pressure versus Guha (photo David Llada)


For the ninth-graders, IM Evan Park is the sole leader with a perfect 5/5. Park defeated Jed Sloan to end his upset bid. Sloan has outperformed his rating all weekend, and he played an admirably solid game against Park. But small inaccuracies, such as trading the wrong minor piece in the opening, and slightly underestimating Black’s initiative, secured the win for Park.



While the four high school sections each enjoy several games broadcast live on DGT boards, grades 2-8 only feature one DGT board per section. This means that Barber champion FM Brewington Hardaway has been in the shadows behind FM Erick Zhao all weekend. But in round five, Aiden Reiss held Zhao to a draw. In a theoretically complex Najdorf, both players showed impressive poise and refused to take unnecessary risks. This means the eighth-grade section is still up for grabs.


Zhao Reiss
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Zhao versus Reiss (photo David Llada)



There was tension atop the leaderboard in the fifth-grade section. Roshan Sethuraman, the lone expert, was held for a draw in round three, by Samant Sen, rated only 1550. Sethuraman followed the adage of playing for the initiative against lower-rated players, but a few inaccuracies put Sen on the verge of an upset. One strange choice, however, was enough for Sethuraman to liquidate into an ending where Sen still came very close to victory and can be proud of the result.


Sethuraman Sen
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Sethuraman escapes with a draw against Sen (photo David Llada)



Since then, Sethuraman has bounced back and is joined by Vijay Anandh, Yuze Ji, and Anmay Chaudhury with 4½/5.

We are witnessing a dominant performance in the fourth grade section, with Akeras Overlingas the sole leader on 5/5. Still out-rating most of his opponents by several hundred points, Overlingas is posing difficult problems with quick attacks in every round. Here he is, winning one in style against an opponent who tried to ‘play solid’ and missed chances to create problems.


Overlingas (L) in his round five game against Alice Chovenac
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Overlingas (L) in his round five game against Alice Chovenac (photo David Llada)



Ted Wang, the highest rated player amongst the third-graders, is one of three players with a perfect score headed into round six. On the white side of an Alapin against a Hyper-accelerated Dragon, Wang’s positional poise is worth taking note of. Sacrificing the “poisoned” b2-pawn is a common theoretical idea, but Wang’s appreciation of initiative over material came into focus when he found the best line, involving sacrificing his d-pawn, too. Exploiting his opponent’s lack of development, he liquidated into a materially imbalanced endgame and took over with ease.



Toth versus Wang
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Joseph Toth (L) versus Ted Wang in round one (photo David Llada)


In the second-grade section, Floridian Aakash Jani had all of his games featured on the DGT board. But three other players remain perfect: North Carolinian Yang Yu, and a pair of New Yorkers: Alice Shen and Albert Li.

While the top games in the kindergarten and first grade sections are not broadcast, we will still be following the results closely. Round seven begins at 1:30 p.m., and the awards ceremony will take place separately at 5:30 p.m. in Woodrow Wilson BD.

With no grandmasters playing in any of the sections, those looking to brag about how they ‘almost’ beat a GM should head to Prince George’s Exhibit BC. For the third consecutive day, GM Elshan Moradiabadi will take on all comers in blitz at 2:00 p.m. today.  

Additionally, this morning featured a presentation of the Trophies Plus All America Team. Several members are playing this weekend, including IM Maximillian Lu, FM Nico Chasin, FM Brewington Hardaway, IM Eddy Tian, IM Evan Park, FM Erick Zhao, and fifth grader Megan Paragua. While Paragua is not playing this weekend, she did play the K-12 blitz, finishing in a tie for second place.

Quick Links

Main K-12 event page

Standings and Pairings

Live games

Livestream for Rounds 5, 6, 7

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