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Denker, Barber, US Open: Ready, Set, Go! Print E-mail
By Randy Hough   
August 3, 2012
Darwin Yang
For 28 years, the Tournament of State High School Champions, endowed by the late GM Arnold Denker, has been a fixture at the U.S. Open. First place earns the Chess II Scholarship for the University of Texas at Dallas.  

The Denker was joined last year by the Dewain Barber K-8 Championship, which also includes champions from (almost) every state. Dewain is an indefatigable, and still very active, scholastic organizer from Southern California. The top five finishers earn scholarships, and automatic qualification to the World Youth Championship. Young players make lasting friendships at the Denker and Barber, and many of them stay for the six- or four-day US Open schedule.

When play kicks off Saturday evening at the Hilton in Vancouver, Washington (along with the traditional schedule of the US Open), the Denker will have as clear to an odds-on favorite as we’re likely to see for years. IM Darwin Yang of Texas, only 15, towers 194 points above the field with a 2594 rating. Darwin recently secured GM norms at the Saint Louis Invitational (see CLO report for details and some games) and the 5th New York International Open (see video). Recent setbacks at the U.S. Junior and Quebec Open should leave him all the more determined to take the Denker. Judging by a Google search, Darwin is a true social network maven.

Atulya Shetty, 16, of Michigan, at 2400 is second seed. His recent accomplishments include equal fifth in Group A of the powerful U.S. Junior and fine performances in the Amateur Team East, Philadelphia and Chicago Opens, and equal second in the National High School.

Michael Brown of Southern California, 2367 at only 14, was Barber co-champion last year and tied for first in the National K-9 in San Diego last April

Other top masters include Deepak Aaron of New York (at 2353, a “return customer” who took third in the 2010 Denker; Indiana’s Sean Vibbert (2315, equal fourth in last year’s Barber); Dipro Chakraborty of Arizona and Andrew Ng from New Jersey (both 2306, and both in that second place tie at the National High School in April); Wisconsin’s Thomas Ulrich (2279, coming off a great result in the World Open); Walker Griggs of Ohio (2268); and 15-year-old Kevin Cao from Missouri (2254 but most currently 2292 – he made an even score in Group B of the recent Junior Championship despite coming in almost 100 points below anyone else).

The 13 master participants also include Sam Schmakel of Illinois (2244), Joshua Mu from North Carolina (2242), Connecticut’s Daniel Rozovsky ( 2231), and Kevin Bu of Minnesota (2221). Look for intense play as the masters’ opponents gun for upsets!

The Barber favorite (at less prohibitive odds) is James A. Black Jr. of New York, who at 2336 ranks fourth in his age group. He was co-champion of the above-referenced National K-9 after a steady rise, but like Darwin Yang has had some disappointing results lately. 

Andrew Tang from Minnesota at 2253 is first rated among U.S. 12-year-olds. He gained a stunning 57 points by tying for first in a Master tournament in Minneapolis last spring. Kapil Chandran of Connecticut is third seed at 2246. He tied for first in the K-8 section in San Diego. Close behind at 2237 is Michael Brattain, 13, of Massachusetts. Home state player Roland Feng, only 11 and already 2204, and FM Tommy He of Texas, 2203 at age 12, round out the Master list in the Denker.

Complete lists of players can be viewed at Denkerchess.com and barberchess.com/joomla/. Forty-seven states (a category that includes the two Californias and DC) are represented in the Denker and 46 in the Barber. It’s a bit disappointing that Alaska, which sent a Denker rep to Florida last year, apparently can’t make it this year. This is likely as close to you as the tournaments will get, guys!

Check the progress of the tournaments at CLO and on the results and pairings pages for the Denker , Barber and track those inevitable upsets. We mentioned only masters in this piece, but here’s one more name, likely to be a favorite of journalists: Raghurdama Bukkarayasamudram, Georgia’s Barber rep.

You can also follow a number of exciting events in Vancouver, including the Main Event the US Open , the US Junior Girls Open , the US Open Scholastic & the US Women's Open. Let the games begin!

Keep this link handy throughout the week: http://www.uschess.org/tournaments/2012/usopen/