Maggie Feng Makes History in Indiana

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History was made today at the U.S. Junior High School Championship.
Maggie Feng finished the tournament with a score of 6.5/7 and became the first girl in history to win the K-9 Championship. Some past winners of the K-9 Championship include Fabiano Caruana and Hikaru Nakamura, so Maggie finds herself in great company. With this result Maggie is hoping to get her rating high enough to qualify for the U.S. Women’s Closed Championship in 2016. Her current rating is already higher than a few of this year’s competitors so I’d say that her chances are good.
Her achievement was mentioned today in the US Chess Championship livestream, along with the many esteemed players who have won this title. You guessed it: “A hearty Congratulations” from GM Yasser Seirawan.
The team title went to the Collegiate School, from New York City. With 3 of the top ten seeds in the tournament, they were never really in danger. Marcus Miyasaka and Brandon Nydick both finished in a tie for third place overall.
In the K-8 Championship we had a two way tie for first. Wesley Wang and Danial Asaria faced off in the last round, and Wesley had an extra pawn. However after some tricky defense from Asaria, Wesley couldn’t get the win and the two became co-champions with 6.5/7.
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The team competition went down to the wire as Jericho Middle School (from New York)  and Odle Middle School (from Washington) finished in a tie for first with 20.5 points.
Team Picture in 1st Place Shirt
Co-Champion Wesley Wang was the star for Jericho while Derek Zhang and Naomi Bashkansky finished tied for 3rd place to lead Odle.
Here’s a cool tactic that Brian Chen from Odle Middle School (in Washington) found to win a pawn in Round 7:
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In the class sections we get to see some of the players who will be playing in the Opens in future years.
K9 U1250:
it was all Ankith Sheshappa, as he finished with an undefeated 7-0. I watched some of his games and he always seemed to have things under control.
It was a 3-way tie for first in the team competition as Metcalf (Minnesota), Roland Park (Baltimore) and Cornerstone (Detroit) tied with 19.5 points
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K8 U1000
Eric Farrell, from Thomas Edison Charter School in Delaware, dominated the section by winning all seven games.
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 Eric capturing his opponent’s last piece in the final round, on his way to a 7-0 performance.
Eric also led his team to a tie for first place. The kids from Thomas Edison played some chess at Cracker Barrell and even got a letter of praise for their behavior from the Cracker Barrell management team.
Also tying for first place was the University Prep Science and Math Middle School from Detroit Michigan.
They brought a huge contingent of players that spanned all sections. They also made a run in the K-8 Open with a strong 5th place finish.
K8 U750
In this section we had two undefeated players! There were so many players in the section that one more round was needed for Pulak Agarwalla and Lyla Lichliter to face off. But there was only seven rounds so they both finish with 7-0 and first place.
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The team prize went to Henderson Middle School from El Paso, Texas. Henderson brought over 35 players to Nationals and I see a very bright future for them in future National Events.
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K-9 Unrated
In the K9 Unrated we had Xander Verlando as our winner, all the way from Hawaii. His team, George Washington Middle School, dominated the section as well, with 21 points.
So there you have the winners from 2016. It was a pleasure to watch everyone play and work so hard for three days. And congrats again to Maggie Feng for her historical first place win!


  1. super congrats to maggie feng for making hisotry. nationals are always harder than it looks.

    how was she not invited to the women’s us chess championship if she’s higher rated than several of those playing? i don’t get it.

    • Invitations to the Men’s (Open) and Women’s US Chess Championships were issued based on an earlier USCF rating list (most likely the January 2016 ratings), not the most-recent list.

      Accepting entrants require advance time to re-arrange their calendars for the 2-week tournament — not only their chess schedules, but also their school, college or time-off-from work, child-care, etc. And if there is a declination, then the next highest-rated person on the list (or the qualifier tournament) needs to make their arrangements.

    • Invitations to both the Men’s (Open) and Women’s U.S. Chess Championships were based on an earlier USCF Rating List (I believe the January 2016 List), not the most-recent list.

      Accepting players need leadtime to arrange not only their chess-playing schedules, but also their school/college, time-off-from-work, and child-care arrangements.

      Declinations would then result in an invitation to the next highest-rated person on the (Jan 2016) list or the next-highest placed from the tournament qualifier.

  2. After researching for more time than I should have, I agree with Steve. The closest misses were Irina Krush finishing a half-point out of first at the K-12 in ’00 and ’01.

  3. Congratulations to Danial Asaria, I think he also made a history by winning elementary, K-8 Junior High and National K-12 Grade championship

    K-8 U.S. Junior High School Championship 2016
    Grade-8 2015 National Scholastic K-12 Grade Championship
    K-5 National Elementary Championship 2013
    2014 National Junior Chess Congress

    • At least four players (Joel Benjamin, Josh Waitzkin, Nawrose Nur, Harutyun Akopyan) have won the National Elementary, National Junior High and National High School titles.

      Akopyan also won several grade-level national titles.

      Nur won a World Under-10(?) title, as well as at least one grade-level national title.

      None of this discredits Mr. Asaria’s accomplishments. I’m just pointing out that it’s been done before.

      • Sorry but I checked couple of names which you mentioned the first name Joel Benjamin his first rating 2636 was in 1991 and no record of elementary, JH or K-12 grade championship. Second name josh Waitzkin he played only in 1992-05-10 NATIONAL HIGH SCHOOL Championship. I don’t know how you come up with those names.

        • The online rating records only go back to 1991. There were national scholastic championships held before then.

          • Please make it sure you add only those players who born after 1991, because K-12 National School Grade championships introduce in 1991 and you mentioned all names who never played any K-12 National Grade Championship

        • I listed Beniamin and Waitzkin because they won the three biggest titles available (sorry, but the national high school championship is a bit more difficult to win than any of the grade levels). As Mr. Ewing points out, the K-12 (formerly the All Grade) did not exist prior to 1991.

          More to the point, I also listed two more players (Nur and Akopyan) who not only won those three biggest titles, but also won at least one K-12.

          So, again, while Asaria’s accomplishment is outstanding, it’s simply not unprecedented. I trust you can understand the distinction.

  4. Hi,
    There is an error in this article: “Here’s a cool tactic that Jericho’s Brian Chen found to win a pawn in Round 7:”

    The correct school of Brian Chen is “Odle Middle School (from Washington)”.
    Could you please correct it?
    Thank you.

  5. For the puzzle included in the article, it is from Odle MS’s Brian Chen, during his last round game. The article states that Brian Chen is part of Jericho, which is incorrect. Please modify if possible. Thanks 🙂

  6. Yes, why WASN’T she part of this year’s U.S. Women’s Championship? Will she be invited next year?

        • A modicum of research before posting would go a long way…

          Some players had qualification rights into the tournament, per US Chess invitational requirements. For example, Irina Krush earned her invitation for 2016 the moment she won the 2015 US Women’s Championship. Likewise, Eswaran punched her ticket by winning the 2015 US Junior Girls Championship.

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