All posts by @joseph

April 2015 Update

April 2015

all girls national All-Girls Nationals Sets Attendance Record!

It was my first trip to the All-Girls Nationals in Chicago and it was an eye-opener! If you have never been to this event, you should start making your plans to bring your girls next year! I think the most surprising thing I saw was what I didn’t see – no loud games of blitz and bughouse on the floors of the convention halls.

There were 358 girls from across the United States competing in a room with pink programs, pretty boxes on the tables (for their cell phones), gold and pink trophies, and friendly faces everywhere you look, but in the end, it came down to fierce battles on the 64 squares. Teams from New York to California fought to the final round with those two states gaining the lion’s share of the team prizes.

Of particular note were the students and former students of Weibel Elementary in Fremont, California. Weibel placed in 3 divisions and their former students (now in junior high) also placed. Alan Kirshner, head of the Weibel team, along with coach, Demetrius Gains made the trip. The teams from Weibel finished 2nd (Under 8), 3rd (Under 10), and 1st (Under 12). His Horner Jr. High team took 3rd in the Under 14!


Under 8: NYPS139, Weibel (CA), Dalton (NY)

Under 10:  Dalton, Speyer (NY), Weibel

Under 12: Weibel, IS318 (NY), Hunter (NY)

Under 14: IS318, Douglass (TN), Horner Jr. High (CA)

Under 16: Rocky Run MS (VA), Douglass HS (TN), De LaSalle (IL)

Under 18: Catalina Foothills (AZ), Hunter, De LaSalle

Nor-Cal’s Monta Vista High School Wins K-12 Team

NM’s Cameron Wheeler and Kesav Viswanadha scored 6/7 and 5.5/7 respectively for the Monta Vista High School Team (Cupertino, CA) to help win the K-12 Championship team award in Columbus, Ohio, April 10-12th, BUT if they hadn’t played, the team STILL would have won! Amazingly, this team of 3 Masters and 4 Experts, would have won with only the Experts’ scores of 5.5 + three 5.0’s. With the top four players being 3 freshmen and a sophomore, this could be the strongest high school team in the history of the U.S. (if not now, then in 2 years?)

Thomas Jefferson HS (Alexandria, VA) finished 2 points back at 20 points. Full results at


Player Caught Using Phone is DQ’d at K-12

A New York high school player was disqualified and had all of his points forfeited for using his phone’s chess program during a game at the National K-12 Championship in Columbus, Ohio.

As is the standard in such cases, all of his opponent’s who did not beat him in the event were awarded ½ point more than the result from their games (so players who drew him received 1 point, and those who lost received ½ point). Further disciplining will be determined by the USCF Ethics Committee. His team was not penalized beyond not being able to count his points.

Big Upsets by Young Players at U.S. Championships

Fourteen year-old Grandmaster Sam Sevian (currently the youngest GM in the world), beat World Top 10 (and U.S. # 2) GM Wesley So in a shocking result at the 2015 U.S. Chess Championships at the Chess Club & Scholastic Center of St. Louis in early April.

In the 2015 U.S. Women’s Championship, 12 year-old Master Annie Wang (Southern California) upset WGM Tatev Abrahamyan and WIM Alisa Melekhina (see this month’s cover story for Chess Life).

GM’s Hikaru Nakamura and Irina Krush, America’s top-rated players for their respective genders won the 2015 U.S. Championship and U.S. Women’s Championship, respectively. Nakamura earned $45,000 and Krush took home $20,000.


GM Wesley So is Forfeited for Ignoring Rule

When GM Wesley So’s game vs. GM Var Akobian in the 9th round of the 2015 U.S. Championship was forfeited for writing notes on a piece of paper under his scorebook (during games you can only write the moves, draw offers, and time notes), it reminded us of three things:

  1. Know the rules (even if you think they are “idiotic”*);
  2. Don’t ignore the TD’s warnings; and,
  3. Be assertive enough to make the claim.

*Kasparov said in an interview that this rule was “idiotic”.

GM So seems to be a super-nice guy, so that teaches us another lesson – being nice won’t always get you out of trouble (though it almost never hurts!).

For more on this story, check out FM Kostya Kavutskiy’s Round 9 Update from the Chess Club & Scholastic Center of St. Louis 

Other rules that players sometimes forget (and forget to claim):

  1. No electronic devices at FIDE events or USCF Nationals. The exceptions are the approved notation devices and medical devices like insulin pumps, etc.
  2. A player cannot touch a piece on the board while the opponent is on move. Additionally, if you knock over a chess piece while moving, you must reset it BEFORE pressing your clock.

Check out this article from 2008 about the controversial U.S. Women’s Chess Championship Armageddon* game: 

*Armageddon games are games that will end a match, even in the event of a draw (Black wins).

USCF Spring Nationals


National Jr. High School

April 24-26, Louisville, KY 

National Elementary

May 8-10, Nashville, TN


My next trip will be to the NorCal SuperStates May 1-3, 2015. I hope to see you there!

Check you later!

Coach Jay

April 2015

A few things that happened in March, and upcoming events for April

Yes2Chess Online Team Challenge

In 2014, the team from Columbia Grammar (New York) won a trip to London! Who will win this year?

Preparation for Nationals

National High School

April 10-12, Columbus, OH

all girls national
National All-Girls Championship

April 17-19, Chicago, IL

National Jr. High School

April 24-26, Louisville, KY

National Elementary

May 8-10, Nashville, TN

Looking ahead to Summer Camps

Formats for day-camps (not overnight)
Full-day vs Half-day and Single Days vs Full Weeks
When running chess camps, you have to decide what format you will offer to the families. I have run overnight camps (ugg – tons of work, much of it unrelated to chess), weeklong sessions (in which we built on the concepts each day and campers were required to sign up for the entire week), and single day camps.
I have found a formula that works for me, but everyone has their own style. My camps for students rated under 1000 are very flexible, allowing students to sign up for as much as an entire week, or as little as a single half-day. We make half-days (9am-Noon, or 1-4pm) $25 and full-days $50. Kids who come for the full day bring a packed lunch. We provide a snack (fruit and cheese or crackers) in the morning and afternoon. No nuts!


At our camps, we use a rotation system with 5 stations:
Instruction, Curriculum, Tablets/Laptops, Free Play, Origami
While not every club is fortunate enough to have an Origami Master, I bet you can find something that gives the kids a break and also gives them something visual to take home with them.

Improving over the Summer

Summer is the perfect time to make huge strides in chess. I encourage my students to attend our free chess club nights, attend classes, camps, and tournaments, and study at home. They can use apps (obviously, I recommend my app because it has 1300 puzzles that I composed especially for players rated under 1000), and online instruction like You can assign specific sections of the app and videos on then review the concepts at class or camp.