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National Junior High Champs Begin in Louisville Print E-mail
By Jorge Barerra   
April 24, 2015
Maggie Feng vs Jack Miklaucic in the National Junior High School Nationals
Fierce battles across the chessboard continue this weekend, as younger players test their skills against each other at the 2015 National Junior High Championships. This time the national event is taking place at the Galt House Hotel in Louisville, Kentucky from April 24th to 26th. With over 900 registered participants, this event promises to be a challenge for all contestants across all six sections.

Players in the K-8 and K-9 sections will compete during seven rounds throughout the weekend. Undoubtedly, the championship sections will be hard fought, as there are young talents with expert ratings, and even some master ratings. Some of these young players, for instance, have already challenged themselves and competed at the National High School Championships two weeks ago.

Maggie Feng, an 8th grader from Ohio, is one such participant. She had a good result playing amongst her elder peers in Columbus, and she will now have an even better chance to score victory in Louisville. As in the National High School Championships, there are many younger players who are able to compete at a higher grade level.  Indeed, their talent is not to be dismissed. An outstanding example of this is Jason Yuyang Wang, a 3rd grader also from Ohio, whose rating borders on 2000. He is so close to surpassing this hurdle, and perhaps it will be this tournament which will give him the chance to break into the expert category.

The activities began on Thursday with blitz and bughouse tournaments. The blitz was a very competitive event with three players tying for first place with 11 points each. Two of these players, Patrik Nehete and Zander Gorton, are actually teammates from Metcalf in Minnesota.   However, they took the 2nd and 3rd place trophies, as Kyle Haining, from Kenmore, Washington, won 1st place through tie breaks.  The bughouse tournament was won by Yang and Rai, two points ahead of the nearest teams.

Another highlight of the weekend so far is the appearance of GM Timur Gareyev, who played a simul and also some blitz.  During the simul, Jack Easton from Kansas was able to draw against the grandmaster!  In the end, Jack had a rook against Timur's bishop and knight.

Due to the very large number of participants, the K-8 and K-9 sections are being played in two separate buildings of the grand Galt House Hotel.  Indeed, it's akin to having two separate tournaments with so many players.
Steven Xue (white) vs David Peng (black)

In the K-9 Championship section, top-seeded David Peng from Illinois, with a 2320 rating, has won both of his games and is shaping up to be one of the top contestants.  In his second round, he won convincingly on the black side of an Alapin Sicilian. However, with 5 rounds to go, there are still many challenges ahead.


Marc Miyasaka during round 2
In the K-8 championship, Marc Miyasaka from New York and Maggie Feng have both won their first two matches. In round two, Marc was matched against Maggie Luo from Virginia. The game was truly spirited, as Maggie put up a real challenge on the board. In the end, however, Maggie lost on time in a tough, albeit losing, position. The four hour match was definitely an endurance test, yet top-seeded Marc has certainly started out already on a promising path towards a great tournament.

With 5 rounds left to play, the National Junior High Championship is off to a fantastic start. The stamina and skill of the players will be tested through the next two days, but for now, it is time to enjoy what these young minds are capable of doing over the chessboard.

Follow the Junior High School Championships pairings and results here.

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