Mechanics' to Host U.S. Cadet National Championship this Weekend

The Mechanics’ Institute will gather the top U16 players in the country for the 2020 U.S. Cadet National Championship on this weekend, Sept. 25-27.  

The Cadet Championship is an eight-player invitational event comprised of the six highest USCF-rated players under the age of 16, the 2020 K-8 Barber Champion, and an organizer wildcard. Considering the accessibility to players who do not have the obstacle of travel for this online event, this may be one of the strongest fields ever assembled in the championship’s history, and a lot of action is expected. Here is the field for this year: 

IM Justin Wang 2540 

IM Christopher Yoo 2540 

IM Andrew Zhang Hong 2533 

FM Robert Shlyakhtenko 2459 (Barber Champion) 

IM Arthur Guo 2446 

FM Maximillian Lu 2431 

FM Christopher Shen 2424 

NM Ruiyang Yan 2242 (Organizer Wildcard) 

The tournament will be round-robin format with seven rounds, with one game to be played on Friday, three games on Saturday, and the final three rounds on Sunday. All games will be played with a time control of G/70 +10. No playoff will happen in the event of a first-place tie, but instead tiebreak scores will determine the prize distribution. 

First place will collect $7,000 in prizes, including a $6,000 collegiate scholarship jointly supported by US Chess and Dewain Barber. Barber, the Dean of Scholastic Chess in the U.S., has also made available one-year US Chess membership extensions for each of the participants. 

Fair play in the event is a top priority for both the organizer and US Chess. Players will be monitored live, where every player will have two cameras on them, and games will also be analyzed by grandmasters, experts and Dr. Ken Regan from the University of Buffalo. Directing the event will be NTD John McCumiskey, who will oversee the overall decisions and executions.  

The Mechanics’ Institute will provide live commentary of the action every day through its Twitch channel. Main commentators will be the Institute’s grandmaster-in-residence and three-time U.S. Champion GM Nick de Firmian, along with Mechanics’ legend FM Paul Whitehead and chess director Abel Talamantez. Special guest commentators are expected throughout the weekend, including 2018 US Champion GM Sam Shankland, two-time US champion GM Patrick Wolff, as well as former Mechanics’ chess director and captain of the US Olympic Team IM John Donaldson. 

Event schedule is as follows:

  • Virtual Opening Ceremony - Friday, Sep 25: 3PM PT / 6 ET 

  • Round 1 - Friday, Sep 25: 4PM PT / 7 ET 

  • Round 2 - Saturday, Sep 26: 9AM PT / 12 ET 

  • Round 3 - Saturday, Sep 26: 1PM PT / 4 ET 

  • Round 4 - Saturday, Sep 26: 4PM PT / 7 ET 

  • Round 5 - Sunday, Sep 26: 9AM PT / 12 ET 

  • Round 6 - Sunday, Sep 26: 1PM PT / 4 ET 

  • Round 7 - Sunday, Sep 26: 4PM PT / 7 ET 

This year’s event marks the 20th anniversary since it was last hosted by the Mechanics’ Institute. In 2000, Donaldson directed the Cadet Championship for a field that included current GM Josh Friedel and IM Daniel Fernandez. It is a great honor and prestige for the Institute to be able to organize this event in this special year. 

For more information, visit the event page.



This year is definitely stronger than back in 2000. Back then, the 8 players who played in the Mechanics' Institute Chess Room were rated between 2095 and 2294. Two experts tied for first place while most of the masters struggled. Sadly, half of those kids dropped out of competitive chess before 2010. Those who are still active: GM Josh Friedel, IM Daniel Fernandez, FM Brandon Burrows and NM AJ Steigman. -- /Michael Aigner/

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