Sunday, April 7, 2013

SuperNationals V (part 1)

Each spring the United States Chess Federation (USCF) holds their annual national scholastic championships.  Usually this is done as three separate events in three separate locations: the Elementary, Junior High, and High School national championships.  However, once every four years they hold all three events on the same weekend at the same location.  This event has been dubbed the SuperNationals.  The location for the SuperNationals is always the Gaylord Opryland Resort in Nashville, Tennessee. This enormous hotel is built like a giant biosphere with indoor rivers, lush gardens, and plenty of southern charm.  This hotel is host to a record 5400+ chess players that have descended upon Nashville.  Long-time followers of Cameron will remember that the Opryland is the site of Cameron's first big win: the K-3 National Champion at SuperNationals IV.

When Cameron won the championship in 2009, he was the lone serious chess player at his school.
Since that time he has had the good fortune to have several strong players join his school and together they have won 4 national titles. This year, despite having clearly the strongest junior high team in the country, Team Kennedy really has their work cut out for them.  Three of Cameron's teammates (one master and two experts) decided to skip the nationals this year.  Although they don't have a chess club at Kennedy, the chess population is strong enough that they are still able to field a competitive team, even if they are no longer the favorites.  Cameron is joined by teammates Pranav Srihari, Arhant Katare, and Kingsley Wang.  In this shot, Cameron, Pranav, and Arhant pal around at SFO while we wait for our delayed flight to LA.

In an effort to reduce school absences, we decided to take the redeye flight which arrived in Nashville at 5:20am the morning of the tournament.  Unfortunately, the hotel was not able to provide us with a room when we arrived, so we found a comfy couch to grab a little shuteye before the first round started at 1pm.  While the cheap side of us was feeling pretty good about not missing any school and saving on a night of the hotel rate, the chess parent in us was starting to feel a little guilty about bringing our kid to the first round completely exhausted.

Pranav and Venitha also grabbed some Zs while we waited for a room.  Fortunately for them, they were able to get a room around 10am.  Venitha was kind enough to allow Cameron to come up to the room and "chillax" before the round.  We eventually got into our room around 2pm, and everyone was a lot happier at that point.

Kerrie has never been one to just sit around a chess tournament.  In fact, we had originally planned to just have Cameron and I attend SuperNationals, but Kerrie has become completely addictive to the TV show 'Nashville', and she decided she wanted to come see the place for herself.  While Cameron was busy doing his job in the tournament hall, Kerrie and I snuck off to the Grand Ole Opry to see a show.  Neither of us are country music fans, but it is always enjoyable to go see live music and the venue was very nice.
In previous years, Cameron had become accustomed to the grueling pace of a national tournament: 7 rounds in 3 days (2, 3, and 2).  The first few rounds were typically easier, but you needed to save your energy for that super hard 5th round game on Saturday night.  As his level and age have increased, the "easy" games have disappeared.  The games were tough right from the start and only got harder as the tournament progressed.  Cameron started on board 3, but after a few surprise upsets in the early rounds, he found himself on board 1 in round 4. After taking care of business in the first three rounds, Cameron had to play his good friend Craig Hilby from Southern California.  The two boys know each other quite well, but it was far from a friendly draw.  After nearly using up all of their time, they finally ended the game peacefully.

With the draw in round 4, Cameron was no longer in the lead group.   Despite having just played two 4+ hour games earlier in the day, Cameron was able to bounce back with a victory in round 5.  Cam's good friend Vignesh Panchanatham drew against Akshat Chandra on board 1, and suddenly Cameron was right back in it.  Going into this morning's round 6, Cameron is atop a 5-way tie for 2nd place with Vignesh and three others, and Cameron has the black pieces against the lone player in 1st place, Safal Bora from Michigan.  It will take two very tough games for Cameron to pull off another title, but we are definitely rooting for him!

Stay tuned to this blog for another update with results, including news from K-8 where friends Allan Beilin and Siddarth Banik are amongst the leaders, and K-5 where Rayan Taghizadeh is still perfect at 5/5.  You can view the pairings and results on the USCF website.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

2012 K12 Grade Level Nationals - Dec 2, 2012

In round 6, Cameron played Jonathan Chiang and only managed to draw.  In round 7, he is playing Jason Shi.

Last Day - December 2 - 2012 K12 Grade Level Nationals - Orlando, Florida

Today Cameron received his fourth All-American Team jacket, being named a member of the 2013 All American Team. They always put his name on the jacket, and this year, he opted to have "Caminator" embroidered instead of his name. It's such an honor to be named with an elite group of young scholastic chess players. 

Today, team Kennedy has 12.5 points. They are ahead of IS 318 by 2.5 points. We hope we can maintain that lead to take the team championships.

Cameron is playing Jonathan Chiang on board 1. There are currently three players with a perfect 5-0 record.  Jonathan, Cameron and David Floeder from MN followed by 11 players with 4-0, including fellow Kennedy Team Mate Pranav Srihari, then 6 players with 3.5, including Kennedy Team Mate, Kingsley Wang.  Let's go Team Kennedy.

December 1 - Rounds 3-5 - K12 Grade Level Nationals - Orlando, Florida

Cameron's third round opponent, Brittany Nguyen. It's the second girl Cameron has played in this tournament. It's interesting that there are not many girls playing chess and Cameron plays two in the last three rounds. He won this game. Since the round started at 10:00 a.m. we were a little late to this round and had to run to the playing hall. The clocks were just starting when Cameron entered.
Cameron's fourth round opponent, Prateek Pinisetti. this was Cameron's longest game so far. He was losing in the opening, but ended up winning in the end. This game had him a little worried. This time Cameron's opponent arrived a little late to the round, Cameron thought Prateek was doing some preparation for the opening because he played the opening very well. Cameron is now 4-0.
Cameron's fifth round opponent, fellow Californian Art Zhao, the two have met many times. Unfortunately Art had to be black twice in a row. Cameron was due to be white and because he is higher rated, he got his color and Art had to be black two times in a row. Cameron wins this round and is no2 5-0.

We did take time to go to Downtown Disney. We went to Wolfgang Pucks Pizzeria and walked the length of Downtown. We took pictures where the boys would cooperate. It was the fastest that I've ever been in and out of Downtown Disney, I didn't have any time to to shop or have fun :-(.

Friday, November 30, 2012

2nd Round Update

Round 2 Opponent Jake Hum From Arizona

Cameron won this match in 33 moves.  The opponent, Jake Hum, played the opening a little weird and blundered both of his bishops on moves 18 and 19, which gave Cameron a huge advantage, and he was able to checkmate shortly after that.

We are hoping that his team mates finish early, and we can take a quick trip to Downtown Disney tonight.

Unfortunately, Kingsley lost to William Graif.  He played a long game and almost ran out of time, ended up blundering with five minutes left on the clock.  Pranav won, so that leaves team Kennedy with 5 points, tied with the prestigious Chess School IS 318.

Tomorrow Pranav's opponent Christopher Rush is from IS 318 so it's a decisive match for the team. 

Arrived in Orlando Florida for 2012 K12 Grade Level Nationals - November 29 & 30th

We flew to Orlando from San Francisco with fellow team mate Pranav Srihari and his mom Vanitha. Here are the boys at the airport waiting to board the plane. Most people think we are a little crazy coming to Florida, right after Slovenia. I'd have to say I agree completely. We really didn't factor in the Thanksgiving week off, and Cameron only attending three days of school before he was out on Thursday & Friday. He has a lot of homework to catch up on.
Cameron met with David Pruess from to talk about creating some chess videos over the winter break. His videos will cover his games from 2012 World Youth Chess Championships in Maribor, Slovenia. We are looking forward to this challenge and hope that it will provide Cameron another outlet for his chess skills. Usually he is not too excited to try new things, but he seems to be jumping into this head first. He's watched a lot of chess videos and knows chess, so I guess it's not all that new to him! Keep your eyes open for the videos at
At the opening ceremonies, before round 1 began, they made a special announcement about Cameron winning the silver medal in Slovenia. They had him walk onto the stage to take a bow. It's a good thing Cameron was listening because I was talking to Vanitha, and Cameron said to me, "Mom, they are going to say my name", and he had to run up on stage for a bow. I barely got this photo before they rushed him off the stage.

Round 1 - Begins. Cameron is playing Emily McClanahan from Illinois, Pranav is playing Aidan Taylor from Virgina, Kingsley is playing Tony Bernardo from Florida (Not Pictured). Let's go Team Kennedy.
Here's Team Kennedy all together.  All three boys won their first match today.  

Sunday, November 18, 2012

It is over!

Sorry for the lack of updates.  Things have been a bit hectic around here.   Here is a very brief update, more later...

Cameron continued his hot streak after the rest day, beating Timur Trubchaninov (Russia), Harsha Bharathakoti (India), and Puranik Abhimanyu (India) in the next three rounds to take over sole possession of first place. In the 10th and penultimate round he faced teammate and world #1, Samuel Sevian. After a long and well fought battle, he lost. In the final round, Cameron played Parham Maghsoodloo of Iran and won the game to finish with 9 out of 11 rounds. Zhu Yi (China) on board 3 won to finish with 9. The top board, Samuel and Savelliy Golubov (Russia) drew so now there is a 4-way tie for first place. We are anxiously awaiting the official standings to find out who won the title.

Check back later for an update and some pics from the awards ceremony...