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.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.
When Cameron won the championship in 2009, he was the lone serious chess player at his school.
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.
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.