The 2006 Grade Nationals is held at the luxurious Disney's Coronado resort in Orlando.
by Elizabeth Vicary
The 2006 National Grade School Championship (December 8-10), held this year in Orlando FL, kicked off Thursday with its annual blitz and bughouse tournaments. Corey Acor (2254, 12th, FL) of Tampa won the K-12 section with 10.5/12, edging out Eric Rodriguez (2209, 12th, FL) and Landon Brownell (2250, 11th, AZ), who drew each other on top board in the last round to finish tied for second with 10 points. Asked if he felt that winning the blitz meant he would sweep the 12th grade championship section this weekend, Corey smiled, "Basically, yeah." Claiming to never study chess, he attributes his strong results to long bullet sessions on ICC.
Lucas Van Beuzekom (1772, 6th, FL) and Kevin Cao (1700, 6th, MO) shared top prize in the K-6 section with 10/12. Despite playing only 2 and a half years and having no formal coach, Kevin has already achieved remarkable results. He attributes his success to the instruction of his older brother Henry (1500) and the support of his parents, who taught him the rules and bought him software training programs. The bughouse tournament was won by Naur Brown (1994, 10th, FL) and Eric Rodriguez with 8.5/10, with three teams tied for second at 8/10: Derek and Jared Tan; Daniel Rohde and Thomas Riccardi; and Amanda Mateer and Greg Kimmel. These results are tentative, pending potential appeals, until Friday 5 pm.
K-12 Blitz Champ Corey Acor
The main tournament is split up into 13 different sections based on grade and begans Friday morning (Dec.8,2006.) 1536 players from forty states are pre-registered. Details like results, directions and schedule can be accessed on , www.uschess.org/tournaments/2006/k12/and results and selected live games will be available on Monroi.
Teams to watch include Hunter College (NY) with 42 players, coached by NM Sunil Weermantry and led by Alec Getz (2135, 7th grade); 2005 National High School Champions Catalina Foothills (AZ) coached by FM Robby Adamson and led by Landon Brownell (2250, 11th); and Florida University (FL) with 21 students, led by Eric Rodriguez (2208, 12th Grade) and Naor Brown (1994, 10th grade).
Competition is normally fierce in all sections, but this year several individuals stand out. Second grader Christopher Wu (1631, NJ) is rated 300 points above second seed Michael Zhao. Christopher won the kindergarten and 1st grade sections 7-0 in the last two years, and his coach, IM Dean Ippolito, predicts a threepeat. "He's tremendously tactical" Dean reported, and "extremely self-motivated." Christopher takes only one hour of private lessons each week, but studies extensively on his own. Christopher is home-schooled, as are an increasing number of top scholastic players including Pennsylvania twins Mark (2246) and Alexander (2203) Heimann. Both Heimanns are among the favorites in the eighth grade section. Another standout is kindergartener Raymond Sun (1460, TX). Rated almost 600 points above the second seed, he seems a likely bet to win his section.
Top-seeded female players include Sarah Chiang (1609, 4th grade, TX), Sylvia Yang (1819, 5th , TX), Darrian Robinson (1761, 7th , NY), Jennie Liu (1805, 8th ,NJ), Abby Marshall (2048, 9th , VA), Medina Parrilla (1938, 10th , NY), Amanda Mateer (1855, 11th , AZ), and Lilia Doibani (2134, college, TX).
Amanda Mateer from Arizona is one of a growing crop of high-rated female players.
Other events this weekend include a lecture and simul by GM Susan Polgar, a Parents' and Coaches' tournament, seminars for first-time parents on understanding ratings, scorekeeping, and crosstables, and forums for coaches. Check back early next week for a comprehensive report, final standings, and lots of pictures.