Action in Atlanta
By Betsy Dynako   
November 21, 2006
Fun in the K-3 Section. Photo Betsy Dynako.

By Betsy Dynako
On the weekend of November 18th, over 400 kids from across the country descended on Atlanta, GA for the 2006 National Youth Action Tournament. Students of all ages from kindergarten through high school were represented, the youngest player being Eric Wang of Alabama, age 4.

National Youth Action marks the start to 2006-2007 national scholastic season. The brevity of game thirty-time control makes the tournament a nice warm up for the year. The comfortable Peach Tree Hyatt hotel, which will also host the 2008 Junior High Championship was an ideal site, conveniently located only five minutes away from the impressive, new Georgia Aquarium.

Clear victory

An unusual feature of the National Youth Action crosstables was the emergence of clear winners in every section, eliminating the need for tiebreaks.

The strongest section by far was the K12 division, in which five USCF experts participated. Christopher Williams (2175) of Massachusetts won first with eight-and-a-half points. Here is Williams' sixth round game against Chime Umeakunne:


Bughouse Battle

Bug House, a seldom-mentioned side event, deserves special note here as there was literally a photo finish on board one during round four. The high school pairs of Cheng/Williams and Francis/Kimmel entered the event, determined to finish with a perfect score. The first game ended in victory for Cheng/Williams.

Bughouse mayhem!

In game two, a player on each team had a checkmate next move, so both soon to be vanquished opponents stalled (a classic bughouse technique), hoping that their cross opponent's time would run out first. A crowd had already gathered and the anticipation was growing. National tournament director David Hater ordered the masses aside. As the crowd moved back and the clocks counted down to the final seconds, the pieces started to fly. With just two and three seconds left on the clocks, consecutive mates hit the board. Of course, each team was convinced it had won the game. NTD Hater conferred with two other tournament directors who were watching the game. The mates hit the boards at the same time, and photos confirmed the ruling. Unfortunately, sportsmanship suffered as both sides behaved badly, resulting in cursing, finger pointing and arguing with NTD Hater. The incident left such a sour taste for Francis/Kimmel that they withdrew from the tournament. In the end, Cheng/Williams finished first with 10.5, a half point in front of second place team Low/Theiss of Maryland.

The enjoyable and well organized tournament closed on Sunday evening. I leave you with a photo gallery and a results summary. Be sure to check out future national events. Next up are the Grade Nationals (Dec.8-10) in Orlando, Florida.

Photo Gallery

The youngest player in the tournament has already learned the value of sportsmanship.

Not your average chess fish at the nearby Georgia Aquarium.

The chair stare.

A K3 contender

Tournament hall

1. Christopher Williams
2. Gregory Kimmel (Florida)- 7.5
3. Benjamin Francis (Florida)- 7.5
1. Hartley Chiang (Georgia) -8.5
2. Praveen Sanjay (Georgia)- 7.5
3. Scott Low (Maryland)- 7 (tiebreak)
1. Kevin Wang (Maryland) 8.5/9
2-3- Joard Pamatma (Texas) and David Bernat (Georgia) 7.5
1. Venko Tummala(Georgia)- 7. 5
2. Benjamin Moon (Georgia)- 7
3. Michael Yuan (Texas)- 7
For complete results, go to the MSA National Youth Action crosstables.