Middle Rounds Shake Out Field at National HS Championship

This evening, we head into the fifth round of the National High School (K-12) Championship in Memphis, TN. As the swiss system shuffles the competition, the top seeds of the tournament start feeling the heat as they are paired against one another. For round 4, the top seven pairings had unblemished performances. Unfortunately for some, that had to change.

Following a decisive round 4, there are only six players with perfect scores. IM Arthur Guo is still the one to beat, having dispatched Eric Zhang on Board 1. IM Anthony He is nipping at Guo’s heels, holding a 4/4 with a win against Bijan Tahmassebi on Board 2.

IM Anthony He
IM Anthony He at the board during the 2022 National High School Championship. Photo: Caroline King

IM Alex Costello and Nicholas Ladan pulled wins on their boards to keep their perfect scores intact, while FM Gus Huston drew Rithi Polavaram on Board 4 to set their scores at 3½/4.

1921-rated Florida 7th-grader Advait Nair had broken into the top boards with three straight wins, but in round 4, his streak ended against 2250-rated 9th grader Harry Le on Board 7.

On Board 5, the clock became a decisive entity. Ganesh Kumarappan had fought back to build a superior position against Vishnu Vanapalli in the middlegame, but as their time began to shore up, he blundered a piece and Vanapalli was able to capitalize and seize the point.

As competition gets fiercer, veteran tournament players know the middle rounds are where top seeds are inevitably nicked for draws, and this tournament is no exception.

Costello’s Bughouse teammate, FM Nico Chasin got stung with a half-point against a lower-rated Avi Kaplan in Round 3, but snagged a round 4 win against Anoop Kurungood on Board 8, putting him at 3½/4 heading into this evening.

Donald Johnson bounced back from a round 2 draw for wins against Venkata Pullabhotla and Dhruv Rajaganesh, also putting him at 3½/4.

So has the die been cast? Far from it! With this highly competitive field and three more rounds, there’s a lot of chess yet to play and anything can happen. 

Starting this evening with round 5, US Chess will be streaming the games live on Twitch, with commentary and analysis by special guests FM Gauri Shankar and WGM Sabina Foisor. Tune in at 8 p.m. ET/7 p.m. CT to follow the action and chat with our hosts.


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