Scholastic Chess News

VSCA Board of Directors Election

Nine candidates for the 2020 VSCA Board of Directors were elected in online voting held January 22–31, 2020. Gopal Bhagavatula (Chesterfield County), current VSCA treasurer and a former Director, was elected as a new Board member. Re-elected Directors are Mike Callaham (Richmond), Jeff Forbes (Virginia Beach), Cheryl Havens (Chesapeake), Mike Hoffpauir (York County), Bart Mebane (Middlesex County), Nailya Plaskey (Louisa County), Christina Schweiss (Virginia Beach) and Julie Wells (Virginia Beach). Congratulations to the elected Board Members, and thank you to the VSCA Members who voted in the election.

VSCA Newsletters

VSCA Chess Teams Score in Miami!

Miami, FL · January 3, 2005 — Sponsored by the Virginia Scholastic Chess Association (VSCA), fourteen young chess players represented Virginia in the 7th Annual Junior Orange Bowl International Scholastic Chess Championships, a three day event held at the Embassy Suites near the airport in Miami, Florida from December 27th to 29th.

In the closely contested age 13 to 15 section VSCA’s team placed 2nd, just one half point behind the team from Barbados and one half point ahead of Jose’ Marti, a team from Miami. Chesapeake’s Ettie Nikolova was 2nd in the individual standings after holding Humberto Lopez, Ecuador’s national champion, to a draw in the sixth round. Nick Halgren (Culpeper) placed 4th in the individual standings. Travis Bass and Ann Marie Brown from Henrico County and Brett James from Chesterfield County rounded out the 13–15 team.

Led by Yorktown’s Adithya Balasubramanian, VSCA’s team in the 10–12 age group also finished in 2nd place one half point behind Trinidad & Tobago. Adithya claimed the section’s championship title with a perfect 7.0 and he also won the popular Blitz Tournament with a score of 5.5 out of a possible 6. The well-balanced 10–12 team included Brett Colbert from Hanover County, Eric Rhodes and Susan Brown from Henrico County and Sean Alexander from Chesterfield County.

Scoring a tournament high 20 points, the team from Trinidad & Tobago outdistanced the field in the 7 to 9 section leaving Liguana / Jamaica in second with 17.5 and VSCA in third with 16.5. Individual trophies were awarded to Chesterfield County’s Vanessa Alexander who finished in 7th place and Henrico County’s Jason Deng in 9th place. Isaac Steincamp and Rodert Brown, both from Henrico County, completed VSCA’s 7–9 contingent.

The Greater Richmond High School Chess League & the Virginia Scholastic Chess Association

Richmond, VA · September 17, 2004 — The Greater Richmond High School Chess League is a reality thanks to the leadership of Kevin Butler and the Maggie L. Walker Governor’s School chess club.

An excellent web site has been created [] and, as of September 17, fourteen high schools from Richmond and the surrounding counties have committed to participating. Home and home chess matches between schools will be played on alternate Tuesdays beginning in October and culminating in May with a playoff among the top four schools. The Virginia Scholastic Chess Association (VSCA) has contributed moral support and a rotating championship trophy.

While league play will not be rated by the United States Chess Federation (USCF) among the league’s match criteria is the stipulation that players be seeded according to USCF rating or by relative playing strength of a player does not have a USCF rating. A USCF rating provides a reasonably accurate means of seeding players and managing a chess tournament as well as providing a comparison of playing strength among chess players nation wide. Most members of chess clubs in the league will not have USCF ratings.

The VSCA, as an affiliate of the USCF, can, under certain conditions, have a school’s chess players obtain USCF ratings as Junior Tournament Players (USCFs) without the players having to join the USCF. Unless there are already some rated players in a school the significance of USCF ratings will, at first, vary considerably from school to school. Nevertheless such ratings would be a reliable measure of the relative chess playing strength of that club’s members.

Chess as an after school and Saturday activity has grown considerably in central Virginia almost entirely as a result of VSCA programs. It has grown from the ground up, so to speak. That is, by far the largest numbers of participants in VSCA tournaments come from elementary schools, a much smaller number from middle schools and even fewer from high schools. Other activities (jobs, sports, cars, etc) contribute to the diminished numbers of older participants in VSCA’s Saturday events. The new high school chess league provides an opportunity for many of those older students to continue to play chess competitively. The league also provides an opportunity for the VSCA and members of the league to begin building from the top down, so to speak.

In addition to providing a means to have a school’s players rated, the VSCA can offer such resources as a permanent trophy to the championship team in May each year and sets and boards and perhaps chess clocks to schools that need them. In the absence of funding from the school the VSCA could provide a subscription to Chess Life, the USCF’s monthly magazine, for the school’s library. The VSCA can provide teaching materials and instruction to members of high school chess clubs who volunteer to teach chess in elementary schools, thereby earning community service hours. Such volunteers can be instrumental in building their own team’s future by teaching students who will eventually come to their high school.

By promoting chess in central Virginia the VSCA has proved the adage “Build it and they will come.” There is still a lot of building to do and the VSCA is ready to help the new league with the building.

Virginia Scholastic Chess Team Wins in Miami!

Miami, FL · January 2, 2004 — Seven young chess players represented Virginia in the 6th Annual Junior Orange Bowl International Scholastic Chess Championships, a 3-day event held in Miami, Florida from December 27th to the 29th. Sponsored by the Virginia Scholastic Chess Association, the team of four boys and three girls won first place in the seven round event after trailing the runner up team from the Bahamas going into the final round.

After losing on time to Ecuador’s Marlon Lopez in the 4th round, Robert Brady, the current Virginia High School Chess Champion from McLean, placed 2nd in the individual standings with six wins. Rounding out the team were Christine Golden and Jessee Perry from Midlothian, Philip Chodrow from Staunton, Ryan Fitzgerald from Rocky Mount and Sathya Vijayakumar and Ann Marie Brown from Richmond.

The Ford Motor Company provided the team with a bus for the trip to Miami and local chess players from the Kaissa Chess Club at The Shops at Willow Lawn provided financial support.

Virginia Scholastic Chess Championships Draw Record Numbers

Richmond, VA · March 10, 2003 — Five hundred thirty-four young chess players met over the weekend of March 8–9 to compete in the 2003 edition of the Virginia Scholastic Chess Championships. The tournament, organized and conducted by the Virginia Scholastic Chess Association (VSCA), was played in four sections at Henrico County’s brand new Deep Run High School in Glen Allen, Virginia, a suburb of Richmond.

Ernest Schlich, a Senior TD from Norfolk, was Chief Director along with Woodrow Harris from Emporia. They were ably assisted by a team of eighteen USCF-certified Tournament Directors led by Senior TDs Bruce George of Manassas and Ernie’s wife, Joan. The event ran smoothly from beginning to end thanks to the efforts of fifty to sixty volunteers who provided support services ranging from computer pairings to food concessions. Other attractions included the very popular giant chess set, a simultaneous exhibition by USCF Master Russell Potter, closed circuit TV coverage of board one in the high school section and fun and games for the non-chess playing siblings.

Both team and individual state champions were recognized in each section. The K–12 section included 80 players representing twelve teams. In the K–8 section there were one hundred thirty three players on nineteen teams. K–5 drew one hundred fifty three players and twenty teams. K–3 topped all sections in numbers with one hundred sixty six players and twenty-seven teams. The individual winner of the K–12 section is the candidate for the Denker Tournament of High School Champions to be held in Los Angeles in August. Trophies were awarded to the top twenty individuals in each section and to the top ten teams in each section. All players who did not win a trophy but scored at least 4 points were awarded medals and all participants received a ribbon.

Undefeated and untied with a perfect 6.0, Robert Brady of McLean won the title of 2003 Virginia High Schools Chess Champion. On Robert’s behalf, the VSCA donated $150 to the Virginia Chess Federation, which will, in turn, help to defray Robert’s expenses for participation in the Denker tournament. Also undefeated, Ruixin Yang placed second in the K–12 section. Ruixin’s score of 5.5 reflects his draw with Fredericksburg’s Andrew Miller in the fourth round. Of the four players tied for third with scores of 5.0, two, Kai Huang and Shekar Sidarth, are teammates of Brady and Yang. This powerful foursome with an average USCF rating of 1875 swept the Thomas Jefferson School for Science and Technology in Alexandria to first place in the team competition. Fairfax County’s Hayfield Secondary was second in the team competition followed by Spotsylvania County’s Chancellor High School, the Maggie L. Walker Governor’s School in Richmond and Chesapeake’s Western Branch High School.

The middle school (K–8) section also had one clear winner with a perfect 6.0. Ryan Fitzgerald, representing Benjamin Franklin Middle School in Rocky Mount, claimed the title of 2003 Virginia Middle Schools Chess Champion. Ryan’s teammate Jared Casazza placed second with 5.5 after drawing Staunton’s Philip Chodrow in the fourth round. There was a six-way tie for third, all with 5.0. Longfellow Middle’s Haitao Mao claimed the third place trophy with the best tie breaks followed by Franklin’s Malcolm Scott, Tyler Cook and Jesse Liu,both from Fairfax County’s Kilmer Middle School, Jacob Feldman (unattached) and Jacob Steinhardt, also from Kilmer. Competition for the team title was fierce. Benjamin Franklin emerged as state champion, edging Kilmer by only one point, 20.5 to 19.5. Chesterfield County’s Manchester Middle School placed third followed by Henrico County’s George H. Moody Middle School and Fairfax County’s Longfellow Middle School.

Two players in the K–5 section scored perfect 6.0’s, Andrew Friex, the only representative from Cub Run Elementary School in Fairfax County, and Dru Knox from Roanoke’s Fishburn Park Elementary School. On tie-breaks, Andrew was awarded the first place trophy and the title of 2003 Virginia Elementary Schools Chess Champion. No less than nine players had scores of 5.0. The third place trophy was awarded to Craig Saperstein from Churchill Road Elementary in Fairfax. Fourth went to Fishburn Park’s Bhavesh Patel, fifth to Aryan Kohjani from Kent Gardens in Fairfax County. Fishburn Park was at the top of the team scores with 19.5, runner up Kent Gardens scored 17.5, Chesterfield County’s Swift Creek Elementary School posted 17, Henrico County’s Springfield Park Elementary had 16.5 and Fairfax County’s Churchill Road Elementary School, also with 16.5, was fifth.

In the K–3 section, Patrick Yu from Ashburn’s Sanders Corner Elementary School in Loudoun County and Jason Deng from Henrico County’s Springfield Park Elementary School both scored a perfect 6.0. Patrick’s tie-breaks earned him the first place trophy and title of 2003 Virginia Primary Schools Chess Champion. William Hantzmon of Charlottesville Catholic with 5.5 was third, Emily Collins, a home schooled student from Roanoke placed fourth and Jeevan Karamsetty (unattached and unrated) was fifth. Fairfax County’s Louise Archer Elementary School and Henrico’sSpringfield Park each compiled 18 points to top the twenty seven teams. The trophy and title went to Springfield Park on tie breaks. The Collegiate Schools team from Henrico County and Fairfax County’s Kent Gardens each scored 17 points to place third and fourth respectively. Chesterfield County’s Swift Creek Elementary score 16.5 to place fifth.

Complete tournament results are on the VSCA web site.