The field of 30 players is now set for the 2014 ChessKid.com Online National Championship. Set to take place June 6th through 8th, with games played on Chess.com's Live Server, the invitational tournament once again brings together the nation's best youth chess players for an event unlike any other.
Headlining the prestigious list of American scholastic chess stars is Ruifeng Li (pictured above). Coming into the tournament rated 2367 (per February 2014 USCF Rating List), Ruifeng is the second-highest-rated player to ever play in the section (behind only Jeffery Xiong who played in and won the 2012 event).
Though Ruifeng may not be the highest-rated player ever, he will be facing much stronger competition than Jeffery faced in 2012. This year, the 12 and Under Section features an average rating over 2250, the highest rating average for any section ever in the ChessKid Online National Championship.
12 and UNDER
#1. Li, Ruifeng 2367 (age 12)
#2. Checa, Nicholas De T 2297 (12)
#3. Balakrishnan, Praveen 2258 (11)
#4. Burke, John Michael 2251 (12)
#5. Wang, Michael 2248 (12)
#6. Lu, Albert 2240 (age 12)
The 10 and Under section will feature a player who qualified as the top seed in the 8 and Under, but also received an "alternate" invite to "play up." It took only a few declines for 8-year-old Kevin Chor to receive an official invite, and now he will headline another all-star field.
Apparently being the top 8-year old in the country (though I'm told he just turned 9) still affords the time to work on your golf game?
10 and UNDER:
#1. Chor, Kevin 2014 (age 8)
#2. Gu, Bryan Fanyuan 2003 (10)
#3. Yang, Kevin S. 1976 (10)
#4. Costello, Alexander John 1961 (10)
#5. Jacobson, Brandon 1960 (10)
#6. Krishnan, Ajay 1960 (10)
Though it's not exactly an "apples-to-apples" comparison, the 8 and Under Section has seen nearly a "200 rating point" increase in its three years. In 2012, the Under 8 top seed (Ben Rood) was rated 1733, while the bottom seed was rated 1531 (Taran Idnani).
In 2014 the 8 and Under top seed (Atreya Vaidya) is rated 1917, while the bottom seed at 1780 (Chinguun Bayaraa). As kids in the U.S. are given more opportunities to play against stronger competition, it seems the average rating for the top players is going up as well.
8 and Under top seed, Atreya Vaidya
8 and UNDER:
#1. Vaidya, Atreya 1917 (8)
#2. Ni, Winston 1795 (8)
#3. Tang, Andrew 1794 (7)
#4. Wang, Justin 1793 (8)
#5. Medina, Benjamin 1780 (8)
#6. Bayaraa, Chinguun 1780 (8)
Despite their age, the competitors of the 6 and Under Section are about as accomplished as some of the older participants. With several national championships among them, these youngsters know what it means to deal with pressure and "be expected to win."
Among them is Lucas Foerster-Yialamas, or ThirstyDonkey as he is better known on ChessKid.com (including a video series made about him and his games from the K-12 National Chess Championships in Orlando last year)!
6 and UNDER:
#1. Jin, Derek 1390 (age 6)
#2. Vanapalli, Vishnu Surya 1348 (6)
#3. Foerster-Yialamas, Lucas 1342 (6)
#4. Chen, Andrew Bo-Shine 1244 (6)
#5. Oh, James Youngji 1230 (6)
#6. Gokul, Anshul 1228 (age 6)
Lucas Foerster-Yialamas, ChessKid.com celebrity!
Much experience also belongs to the girls in the 13 and Under Section. With several players having competed in the ChessKid Invitational in previous years. Rounding out the top of the field is Maggie Feng and Kiana Arab, both participants in last year's event.
Picking an early favorite would be very tough, considering the field is only separated by little more than 100 points from top to bottom:
GIRLS 13 and UNDER:
#1. Feng, Maggie 2096 (13)
#2. Arab, Kiana (13) 2048
#3. Devagharan, Devina 1973 (12)
#4. Nguyen, Emily Quynh 1965 (11)
#5. Liu, Joanna 1964 (11)
#6. Rajendra, Anupama Shashikala 1931 (13)
UPDATE: Maggie Feng has withdrawd. Originally 13th on the list, Priya Trakru has confirmed her interest to participate, moving from an alternate to an official participant.
#13. Trakru, Priya 1913 (12)
Originally from Iran, Kiana Arab now heads the Girls 13 and Under Player's List
Now top seed Kiana Arab just won the All Girls Nationals, completing a win in her section with a perfect score (the only one in the tournament). A review of that tournament can be found here.
A single Round Robin format, 5 rounds with 6-players in each section, will decide the winners. In the event of a tie for first, an Armageddon Playoff game will determine a clear winner.
IM Danny Rensch (PoppaBear on ChessKid.com), FM Mike Klein (FunMasterMike on ChessKid.com) and others will provide live coverage of each round on www.ChessKid.com/ChessKidTV and www.Chess.com/TV. For full details on the tournament format, prizes and schedule please click here.