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US Junior Congress Brings Talent to San Fran Print E-mail
By Aditya Kumar & Sarah Wilson   
March 12, 2012
trophies.jpgThe 2012 US Junior Chess Congress returned to its annual spring schedule, attracting over 300 players from throughout the United States.

This year’s event was held on March 3 and 4 at the San Francisco Airport Hyatt Regency. Complete with a free airport shuttle, spacious rooms, a lovely setting, and reasonably priced food, the location made attendees comfortable and better able to focus on the task at hand—Chess.
This year’s Junior Congress consisted of eight sections based on age groups from 6 & under to 20 & under. The oversize top trophies indicated to all that this was a National event. The top 20 players and top 10 teams were awarded trophies in most sections. And as the US Junior Congress team awards are based on clubs, traditional school rivals were seen competing together for the same team.

All sections were five rounds. The 6 & under and 8 & under sections used G/30 time control, while all other sections used G/90. Players were not restricted to their age group and could play-up in a higher section at no extra cost, which worked out well for players who wanted longer time controls or were looking for stronger competition.

Ted Belanoff edged out Simone Liao in a Rook-Pawn ending to earn the 20 & under title with a 5-0 record. Belanoff shared, “This is my last junior event. I have graduated from Berkeley at 20 and am starting a job in New York.” Bay Area Chess won the 20 & under team championship with the Azhar brothers (Aamir, Yousef, & Arman) and Suleyman Saib.

Sudarshan Seshadri finished 5-0 to take the 18 & under championship. Coalinga Chess Club, powered by the Wong brothers (Brett, Blake, and Bryce), edged out Evergreen High School by a half point to win the 18 & under team championship. Their coach, Ed Wong, showed his appreciation by saying, “We enjoy coming to these very well run events in the Bay Area, one of the strongest areas in the country. We enjoyed coming and competing with the best in the country, and I am proud of my team’s performance.”

DSC00421_JPG.jpgCharles Tang captured the 16 & under title and also helped his Liu Chess Club coast to 16 & under team championship with Joseph Zhang and Garrick Su. Coach Wei Liu of Liu Chess Club commented, “Our children are so lucky because the Bay Area is one of the best places to learn and play chess.”

Hemang Jangle and Joanna Liu shared the 14 & under championship with 4.5 points each. Chaboya Middle School won their first National Team Championship in the 14 & under section, with Kevin Lin, Ketan Kapre, and Anish Yakkala leading the way.

Jeffrey Tao and Pranav Nagarajan shared the first place in the 12 & under section. Berkeley Chess School captured the 12 & under title, with Michael Wang, Joel Alcaraz, and Justin Tan scoring four points each.

Leyton Ho and Anirudh Seela drew their fourth round to share the 10 & under championship with 4.5 points each. Ho’s team change to NorCal House in the after fourth round starting sealed the team title in favor of NorCal House.

Joaquin K Perkins (above) dominated the 8 & under section to win the title with a perfect record.


James Pflaging came in second with 4.5 points. Bay Area Chess came from behind in the last round of the 8 & under section with wins from Kelvin Jiang, Chinguun Bayaraa, and Agnes William to capture the 8 & under title.

Balaji Daggupati earned the National title in the 6 & under section with a perfect score. Maurya Palusa pulled an upset win in the fourth round to secure the 6 & under title for NorCal House with his teammates Daggupati and Aksithi Eswaran.

Brett Wong won the 11 & under Blitz with 6.5/8 points, while Ted Belanoff won the Ages 20 & under Blitz with a perfect score. Coalinga Chess Club won both team events.

NTD John McCumiskey, ANTD Tom Langland, and Senior TD Richard Koepcke directed the tournament, and Senior TD Dr. Salman Azhar organized the event. Azhar attributed holding National tournaments in the area to the support from local chess players, directors, parents, and coaches. He added, “You may see my face at these tournaments but it is those key people, not me, that make this event possible. I am just a chess dad who wishes for your kids what he wants for his own kids.”

The US Junior Chess Congress attracted many out-of-state players. Harry Desphande, a chess dad traveling from Washington, offered his appreciation. “We would certainly like to come over next year.”

Player standings are available at BayAreaChess.com/events/12/usjrcong.php, team standings at BayAreaChess.com, and USCF ratings at MSA. Please take a moment to share your experiences with this event at surveymonkey.com.