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More Than Trophies at the SuperNationals Print E-mail
By Jennifer Shahade   
April 7, 2009
In addition to the thousands of participants and games from Nashville, there were 50,000 concrete things to be happy about in the SuperNationals. $50,000 in college scholarship money was sponsored by the Nashville Convention & Visitors Bureau in partnership with the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center. The money was dispersed widely, with the top five individual winners in each section earning $1500 (1st place), $1000 (2nd place) and $500 (3rd-5th.) Each Championship team ($4,000 in the high-school) wins $3,000 to split between the top four scorers. The five scholar-chessplayer awards were also announced at the SuperNationals.

May The Best Upset Dodger Win

Getz and Hess analyze; IM Marc Arnold and Tony Rich, Floor TD and Executive director of the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis Louis watch.

In the K-12, IM Robert Hess, fresh off a GM norm at the SPICE Spring International, swept the K-12 field 7-0. While this can't be considered a surprise, Nationals are often so upset-studded, that you also couldn't call the 100+ rating point favorite a lock either. Hess's closest competitor was his roomate and the only other IM in the tournament-- Marc Arnold. Marc wasn't as lucky in dodging bullets- he lost his third round to Troy Daly, an expert from Florida. Clear second place in the section with 6.5/7 went to Shinsaku Uesugi, who also plays for the Japanese Olympiad team.

Prior to the event Robert said that getting paired down in the Nationals was a lot different than getting paired down in say, the Foxwoods Open , where he's off to next, "Everyone is hungry at the Nationals," Hess told CLO. Before playing through Robert's critical wins over three ravenous NMs, can you find the move that clinched Hess the Championship?

Hess- Getz, White to Move and Win

Show Solution

Here is the full game:



Robert's 7-0 propelled his team, Stuyvesant to first place in the Championship. "I promised my friends at Stuy that I would play for the team in one year in Nationals, and so I figured, 'Why not this year?'" Look for a full interview with Robert Hess on CLO coming soon.

Junior High Sicilian Power

In the K-9, Andrew Ng started off with 6-0 including a win over top seed Parker Zhao.


Despite his running start, Ng faltered in the final round on the other side of the Dragon against Ryan Moon. The two teens were passionately analyzing the game afterward and seemed very laid-back about the result.


Winners in the K-9: Ryan Moon and Ben Gershenov. Photo Polly Wright

This put Moon and Ben Gershenov in a tie for first with 6.5/7,  while Gershenov's school, Solomon Schechter of Westchester, NY won the team competition. 
George Qi, Photo Jennifer Shahade

In the K-8, George Qi of Canyon Vista Middle School in Austin, Texas also came through in a sharp black Sicilian to help his team climb to first. His final round opponent was Eldon Nakagawa, a Hawaiian seventh-grader was only rated 1625 (provisionally) but started with 6-0! Nakagawa's rating is now up to 1863. Eldon's brother, Ford Nakagawa tied for first in the K-5 Championship with 6.5/7. He also came in with an under-rated provisional rating of 1549 and gained almost 200 points at the tournament.

Their father, Bert told CLO: "Hawaii doesn't have a lot of opportunities to enter rated tournaments, so that's one of the reasons why so many people from Hawaii have been successful when traveling to the Continental U.S." He also added, that the boys study with NM Reynolds Takata and are also self-motivated about studying on their. It also probably doesn't hurt that: "They... play video games when they reach certain studying milestones."

After the awards ceremony, the K-8 Under 750 champion Vaughn Soso was beaming about his 7-0 score, along with his coach (prone to blinking in photos) and his mother. Like Kasparov said in his Q+A, you'd have to ask his mother to find out the real secrets to raising a champion.

Vaughn Soso with his coach and his mother

Annotations by an Elementary Champ

Daniel Gurevich, Photo Jennifer Shahade

Gurevich- Brown was a funny pairing to see in the penultimate round of the K-6 section—I could have easily been watching a U.S. Championship battle from a decade ago! These expert chessplayers are still fifth graders at heart. Despite their chess skills, both were very hyper active and expressive at the board—and there was a clear camaraderie between the two in this game. 

Daniel Gurevich, who also plays piano, is home-schooled in Atlanta, Georgia. Lately he has been studying more chess than ever as the family has been hosting IM Kirill Kuderinov. To other kids who hope to be champions, Daniel recommends the following pre-tournament routine: "brush up on your openings and study lots of tactics." Before the SuperNationals, Daniel studied a book on combinations by Jacob Aagaard. The annotations below show that Daniel is much more deliberate than his bouncy demeanor may lead you to believe:


This was my sixth round game against Michael William Brown. I needed a win since my opponent was half a point ahead. I couldn't imagine before the game the intricacies and surprises I would find in this game. I can always learn a lot from such games.
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.Be2 0-0 6.Nf3 e5 7.Be3
This is one of the main lines of the King's Indian Defense.
7...Ng4 8.Bg5 f6 9.Bh4 g5 is more common.
 8.d5 Ne7 9.Nd2 Ne8 10.c5 f5 11.f3

Better was 11...fxe4 12.Ndxe4 Nf5 13.Bf2 Nd4 with equality, because the knight on d4 balances out the knight on e4.
I played this to stop b4, but this move only weakens b6 and b5. After this move my position is much worse. 
12.Nc4+/- dxc5 13.Bxc5 Nd6 14.Qb3 Nxc4?!
This may look like the only move, but there might have been a better one. 14...fxe4!? This might look like a last-ditch defense, but this is actually not a bad move. 15.Nxd6 cxd6 16.Bb6 Qe8 17.Nxe4 Nf5 18.0-0+/= Here, Black just barely, but holds his position.
15.Bxc4 Kh8 16.Qa3 Re8
Here, I need a miracle to save the game, let alone win!
The miracle starts coming, first in small doses. This move wins the exchange, but my opponent soon realizes that he can't take it!
17.0-0 was much better because after 17...Bd7 18.Rad1 Nc8 19.Nb5+/- Black can just as well resign because of his lack of space.
17...cxd6 18.Bxd6 Nc6!+/=
Position after 18...Nc6

I quickly and readily gave up the exchange because I knew taking it would give me too much of an attack. The greedy 18...Bf6? is bad because of 19.0-0-0 Bd7 20.Qc5 Rc8 21.Bxe5!+/- Rxc5?? 22.Bxf6#.
19.Bf7 Nd4 20.Rc1?
This move is another mistake. Better was 20.0-0-0!? fxe4 21.Bxe8 Qxe8 22.Rhe1! (Not 22.Nxe4 because of 22...Bf5 with a strong attack.) 22...Bf5 23.g4 Be6 24.Rxe4 Nxf3 with an unclear position. Black's bishops and other pieces are starting to harass White's king.
 I want to exchange White's strong bishop. Now my position is already better. Also good was 20...Qh4+!? 21.g3 Qh6 using my opponent's undefended rook and the threat of Nc2+. Forced is 22.f4 Rd8=/+ and Black is also better.
The best move. If 21.Bxe8? Bxd6 22.Qa4 then 22...Qg5! using the rook's awkward position and if 23.Rc2 (or 23.0-0 Nxf3+! 24.Kh1 Nxh2! 25.Kxh2 Qh4+ 26.Kg1 Bc5+ and black mates.) 23...Nxc2+ 24.Qxc2 Be6 25.Bb5 Bc5-+ wins; And if 21.Qa4!? then 21...b5! and if 22.Nxb5 Bxd6 23.Nxd6 (If 23.Nxd4 Bb4+ 24.Kf1 Ba6+ wins) 23...Rf8 24.Bd5 The only move. If (24.Nxc8 Rxc8 25.Rxc8 Qxc8 26.Qc4 Qb8-+ White's king is awful and my opponent would not save the game if it proceeded like this.) 24...Ba6! 25.Bxa8 Qg5!Your browser may not support display of this image. 26.Rc3 Qxg2 and White gets mated.
In the last two moves and the 45 minutes me and my opponent took to make them, we surprisingly both saw the complicated wins against 21.Qa4 and 21.Bxe8.
22.Bc4 Be6?
 This move was not the best. Much better was 22...Qh4+ 23.Kf1 (I looked at the line 23.g3 Nxf3+ 24.Kf2 Qf6? (24...Qh6! was the move I missed.) 25.Nd5!) 23...Be6-/+ preventing him from castling.
23.Bxe6 Nxe6 24.0-0= Qb6+ 25.Kh1 Nf4 26.g3?!
 This move gives me more winning chances in this drawn position.
26...Nd3 27.Rc2 fxe4!?
Now I am trying to prevent a draw by again making the position more tactical. Forced is
 28.Nxe4 Qe3!?
Position after 28...Qe3

I set a nicely concealed trap.
White falls into the trap! Also bad was 29.Rc3? Rxf3 30.Rxf3 Qxf3+ 31.Kg1 Qe3+ 32.Kf1 Qe1+ 33.Kg2 Qxe4+-+ and I win. Or,29.Kg2? Rxf3 30.Rxf3 Ne1+ 31.Kf1 Qxf3+ 32.Qxf3 Nxf3=/+ and I get a better endgame. The only defense for White is actually to defend the f3 pawn with; 29.Ng5! Qxg5 30.Qxd3 Qf5 31.Qxf5 Rxf5= with a draw.
 Now I am winning. There is no satisfactory defense against Ne1!
This move is desperation in a lost position. If 30.Qe7 then 30...Ne1 31.Rxe1 Qxe1+ 32.Kg2 Rac8-+ and I also win.
30...Qxd2 31.Qe7 Qh6 32.Kg2 Rac8 33.Rd1 Rxc7 34.Qxc7 Qe3 35.Rxd3 Qxd3 36.Qxe5+ Kg8 37.Qe6+ Rf7 38.Qe8+ Kg7 39.Qe5+ Kf8 40.Qb8+ Kg7 41.Qe5+ Kh6 42.f4 Qc2+ 43.Kf3 Qd3+ 44.Kg2 Qf5 45.Qe3 Rc7 46.Kf3 Qd5+ 47.Ke2 Rc2+ and my opponent resigned. 0-1

In the final game, Daniel won against Sarah Chiang to earn clear first with 6.5/7.

In the team competition, Mission San Jose Elementary won the K-6 while Stevenson Elementary School of Bellevue, Washington won the K-5 Championships. Stevenson Elementary was also featured in the New York Times for their role in the Earth vs. Space Match. The K-5 Individual Champions tied for first with 6.5/7: Mika Andrew Brattain and the aforementioned Ford Yukio Nakagawa of Hawaii.

Mika Andrew Brattai, Photo Polly Wright 

All Bay Area in the K-3
The end of the Primary Championships

The K-3 Primary Championship saw a final round playoff against two friends, Cameron Wheeler and Vignesh Panchanatham, both third-graders from the Bay Area. Cameron and Vignesh are both part of schools that don't have chess programs. Along with other kids in a similar situation, they're part of a small study group known as the "ChessPunks." After the game, both boys were great sports-There were no tears or gloating. If anything, the victor seemed a little upset that he had defeated his friend.


Cameron's father, Robert told CLO, "I think the victory was bittersweet for Cameron (hence) his somber expression.  He was very excited to win the national championship, of course, but he knew that his good friend had just lost."


The Half Day School from Lincolnshire, Illinois won the K-3 Team Championship.

Hunter, Do and a 3-year-old in the K-1

Hunter Coach Sunil Weeramentary, Photo Jennifer Shahade

Soon after the final round, Hunter coach Sunil Weeramentary got the cell phone calls confirming Hunter had clinched the K-1 section. He immediately enjoyed a sweet treat to celebrate.

In the individual competition Vincent Do sweeped 7-0 to claim clear first.

Jerry Nash with the K-1 champ, Vincent Do. Photo Polly Wright

Polly Wright also caught the youngest competitor, three-year-old Christopher Kelly taking a nap!

Naptime in the K-1, Photo Polly Wright

Over 5200 players attended the SuperNationals in Nashville (April 3-5). Living legend Garry Kasparov and astronaut Greg Chamitoff spoke at the opening ceremonyCheck the final results, MSA rated results , the official website and the video contest page.


April - Chess Life Online 2009

Jennifer on Chess Talk with John WatsonRoad to GM: Not Broken Games and Photos From the All-GirlsWorld Chess Live Tournament of College Champions Daily Fantasy Chess Prizes USCF seeks FIDE Zonal PresidentIM Ray Robson Wins Samford Fellowship Akobian Wins Californian Challenge Megan Lee the Big Winner at All GirlsFantasy Chess 2009 Gata Scores After SlumpAdventures of a Samford: Perfect in TorontoBasketball Chess Video Akobian Leads Against Shulman Landon Brownell (1989-2009)Member Appreciation Program UpdateKudrin Takes Far West Open; Youngsters ShineSadvakasov Takes on 22 Columbia StudentsChess Camp 101Onischuk on Mexican EndgamesGarry Kasparov in Nashville: "Hard Work is a Talent."USCF Legal Update Interview with GM-elect Robert HessKamsky in Nalchik for Grand Prix Adventures of a Samford: Another Run at Cappelle2009: A Chess Odyssey....or By The Time I get to Nashville Chess Silhouettes Revealed Hilton on Foxwoods: Norms for Hess and Enkhbat, Title for SadvakasovHilton on Foxwoods: Shulman, Shogi and Imitating BecerraFar West Open Begins in RenoBryan Smith Tests Himself in MarchandFrom Nashville to Foxwoods Kosteniuk on 100 Wins in Nashville The Local View on Nashville More Than Trophies at the SuperNationals Shankland Wins Final Spot in Saint Louis Live From Nashville: Coaches Interviews Results are in at the SuperNationals! A Parent's Perspective, This Time Supersized: Part II SuperNationals Interview with Yury ShulmanLive From Nashville: Fun Between Rounds Live From Nashville: Fox Coverage, Simuls and More Live From Nashville: Tornadoes and an Astronaut Garry Kasparov Kicks Off SuperNationals Live Video From Nashville: Bughouse, Blitz and an InterviewA Parent's Perspective, This Time SupersizedJennifer on Simuls, A Little Different