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National Junior High Championships: Crowded at the Top Print E-mail
By Jorge Barerra   
April 27, 2015
Marcus Miyasaka
After an intense weekend with seven rounds of the National Junior High School Championships, winners have emerged. It was surprisingly crowded at the top. In the K-8 section, a tie for first place occurred with a surprising six players earning top honors with 6 points each.  The K-9 section was slightly easier to decide with a sole winner attaining 6.5 points.
During the last round in the K-8 section, three players had a half point advantage over their nearest rivals, with 5.5 points.  However, there were an amazing fourteen players with 5 points, who had the chance of victory pending the results of the top contestants.  Top-seeded Marcus Miyasaka had the white pieces against Zachary Tanenbaum on board one, while Brandon Nydick, the last player with the half-point advantage, also had white against Tianming Xie.  Scoring a point for any of these contestants would guarantee first place, so splitting the point would be a bit of a gamble. 

As the winding down of the clocks approached, the three players could be seen running back and forth between the top two boards, analyzing both positions to see what was the result, so that they could understand what they would need on their own board.  Marcus and Zachary noticed that Brandon on board two was not winning, perhaps having a very slight disadvantage compared to his rival, so they drew their game by mutual agreement.

Therefore, the results of the tournament hung on the shoulders of Brandon, who, if he won, would become the sole leader of the tournament, but it wasn’t to be. 


Soon after the first draw, board two ended as a draw, and the top three players were guaranteed first with 6 points each. 

However, any of the 14 players with 5 points, by winning their game, could catch up and also get the title of National Junior High Champion, and this is exactly what happened for three of the participants, namely, Vishal Kobla, Truman Hoang, and Joey Michael Kelly.  In the end, the first place trophy, under tie-breaks, went to Marcus Miyasaka.
David and Marcus showcasing their respective 1st place trophies

The K-9 section’s last round was much easier to decide.  Seventh grader David Peng had the only perfect score in the championship section, and he only needed a draw to ensure first place.  He attained this result in a short time against Sam Lander Cabrera Capocyan, and with 6.5 points, he became the National Junior High Champion in the K-9 section!  Sam, along with William Graif and Daniel Cremisi, were the follow up group with 6 points each.
After his decisive tournament victory, David was very composed and serene. He mentioned that this was his first time at the Junior High Championships, and he felt very content to win.  Moreover, he said that he felt more comfortable playing in this tournament than in Columbus two weeks ago at the National High School Championships, but said that he still had to be quite wary, as there were many underrated players in this tournament.  As proof of that, he explained that his toughest game was against Anagh Kukkarni of Ohio during round 4, which was a drawn game in which Anagh lost on time.  

As for his chess goals, he said that he hopes to become a GM someday, but that he doesn’t have any concrete plans yet.  For now, he will be playing at the Chicago Open with the aim to play “good solid games,” and he said he will continue his training with his renowned coach GM Dmitry Gurevich.

Beyond the winners, the success of the tournament also goes to all those chess players who made the time and commitment to participate in Louisville. One such example is the team from Deer Isle Stonington K-12 who made the journey all the way from northeastern Maine to compete. Coming from a community that primarily consists of lobster fishermen, their team of ten has heart and grit, which is reflected in their recent victory at the state championships in the K-6 section. 

The Deer Isle team from Maine

In order to make it to Louisville, they used team work and fundraised in various ways, like holding bake sales and chess-a-thons (24 hour chess marathons), as well as selling flowers. While some students flew into Louisville, there were others who made the long journey by car. Undoubtedly, commitment like this is part of why so many participants at the National Junior High Championships have fought so hard for their successes, for behind their game, there has been a tremendous journey, both literally and intellectually, to bring them to that moment on the board. 

In the K-9 team Championship, IS 318 of Brooklyn, took clear first, half a point ahead of Masterman in Philadelphia. In the K-8 Championship, NY Collegiate School, led by Marcus Miyasaka won top honors.
K-9 Under 1250 An Riccardo Tran, perfect score (7-0)

President George Washington Middle School won the K-9 Under 1250, while Henderson Middle School won the K-9 Unrated. Metcalf of Burnsville, MN won top honors  in both the K-8 Under 1000 and K-8 Under 750 sections.

Blitz Champion Kyle Haining

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