Chess-in-the-Schools' MLK Tournament Draws Hundreds of Players
By Shaun Smith   
January 20, 2010
On Monday, January 18, 2010, nearly 600 players gathered at the Frederick Douglass Academy in New York City to play in the 2010 Martin Luther King Jr. Day Tournament sponsored and run by Chess-in-the-Schools.  The FREE event featured 8 sections and had 350 rated players along with 250 unrated beginners.  The highlight of the event was the award ceremony which was presided over by GM Maurice Ashley. 

GM Maurice Ashley with elementary section students

Alexis Paredes won the Championship section on tiebreak over Mikhail Sher.
The tournament's top winner was USCF Expert Alexis Paredes of IS 318 from Brooklyn, who scored 3.5/4 points to win the super competitive Championship Section on tiebreak over NYC Area expert, Mikhail Sher. Sher said,"(Paredes had a very impressive tournament.) Not only did he got 3.5/4, but he clearly played the best chess out of everyone in the tournament, convincingly beating Matan (Prilleltensky) along the way!"

Sher offered the following annotations to his win over NYC area coach Jonathan Corbblah.


1.d4 d5 2.Nc3 Bf5
I believe this is the best response against Blackmar-Diemer as after 2...Nf6 3.Bg5 Nbd7 4.f3, White is able to somewhat limit the mobility of the black pieces and the bishop stuck on c8, even though this compensation is also insufficient!
3.f3 Nf6
4.Bg5 was likely a better option for White 4...Nbd7 5.Nxd5 Nxd5 6.e4 h6 7.Bh4 c5 8.exd5 Qb6 when Black has an advantage but the position is very unclear with chances for both sides.
4...dxe4 5.Bc4 e6 6.Bg5 exf3
The best way to refute the gambit is to accept it!
7.Qxf3 c6 8.Nge2?
There is no real reason for White to sacrifice another pawn on c2.
8...Bxc2 9.0–0 Be7 10.d5 cxd5 11.Bb5+ Nbd7
White was hoping for 11...Nc6 12.Nd4 threatening both Black Knight on c6 and Black Bishop on c2, however even that does not work as 12.Nd4 can be met with Bc5 [11...Nc6 12.Nd4 Bc5!]
12.Nd4 Bg6 13.Bxf6 Bxf6
Now the game is completely over. The rest serves as an example of Jonathan's fighting spirit and belief in playing till checkmate!
14.Qe3 0–0 15.Bxd7 Bxd4 16.Qxd4 Qxd7 17.g4 Qd6 18.Kg2 Rac8 19.h4 Rc4 20.Qd1 Qb6 21.Rf2 d4 22.h5 Qc6+ 23.Kg3 dxc3 24.hxg6 Qc7+ 25.Kh3 hxg6 26.Rc1 cxb2 27.Rxc4 Qxc4 28.Qd7 b1Q 29.Rxf7 Qh1+ 30.Kg3 Qg1+ 31.Kf3 Qcxg4# 
Mikhail Sher
This game goes on to illustrate a very small margin of error inherently involved in playing gambits. After White chose to play 4.e4? instead of the superior 4.Bg5, he was already forced to fight an uphill battle. Nevertheless, Blackmar-Diemer remains a dangerous weapon and if played correctly can be quite dangerous particularly on the U1800 level as well as in speed chess! 0–1

Rochelle Ballantyne
The Championship Section was an invitation only event open to players over 1800 in the NYC area.  The section included the following other top juniors:  Justus Williams, Jake Miller, Andrew Ryba, Nicholas Ryba (Tied for 3rd- 5th with 3 points),  Jehron Bryant, Nigel Bryant, Alexander Fabbri, Rochelle Ballantyne, along with 6th Grade National Champion James A. Black.  In order to give top NYC junior players the most competition, we also invited NYC area Experts Sher, Matan Prilleltensky (Tied for 3rd-5th with 3 pts), and Dwayne Clarke (Tied for 3rd-5th with 3 points).

Justus Williams

It was a three way tie in the tournament's Open Section between Randy Rivera, David Kim, and Rawn Prowell, who all had perfect scores.  Randy Rivera of IS 318K took first place in the Blitz Play-Off.

Randy Rivera
To see the tournament's other winners check out the following links:

Click here for the individual and team standings

Click here for the Tournament Rating Report

Chess-in-the-Schools runs over 30 scholastic chess tournaments per year, which are run almost every Saturday and on Columbus Day, Veterans Day, as well as MLK Jr. Day.  The organization's events are the largest regular scholastic tournaments in the country drawing over 500 students on average at each event.  Surprising to many is that all of CIS's tournaments are offered FREE of charge. 

If you would like to register your child for a Chess-in-the-Schools tournament or would like to find out more about the Chess-in-the-Schools program please visit

If you are a K-12 student in the NYC area interested in playing in our next championship event, email