2014 Nashville City Champs - Part I

Each year since 2003, the Nashville Chess Center (The NCC) has organized a scholastic city championship with a unique structure making local superstars out of chess kids.  The NCC runs three total qualifying tournaments during September, October and December where two students qualify in each group. The groups are similar to those found on the national level with the sections K-3, K-6, K-9 and K-12 being open for kids to qualify.

The students that qualify then find themselves filling out questionnaires and sending in their photographs so that they may go down in the unofficial NCC Hall of Fame by becoming a part of the annual city championship tournament book. It is the only publication of its kind in Tennessee and possibly all over the South East. Students answer questions about their favorite players, most memorable games and future aspirations before they get to fight for the coveted city championship crown. For each city champion a glass crescent trophy awaits along with the pride of being city champion for a year.


The first qualifier at Wright Middle School boasted a type of strength that has been unforeseen before in middle Tennessee. As a chess kid, I would sit atop a scholastic section like this in Nashville sometimes 800-1,000 points above the nearest competition. Now round one pairings find two girls on the USCF top 100 list battling it out. Below is the game between Epiphany Peters (8th in the country for girls u16 years old) vs. Jing Dai (83rd in the country for girls u16 years old).



Epiphany went on to sterling 5-0 record to take first by a full point in this event. She will be the odds on favorite in the high school section of the city championship. Epiphany could always aspire to beat the old guys in the Open City Championship where the titled adults compete.  Also qualifying was Luke Weishaar as he took down in second place at Wright only losing to Epiphany. Luke comes from a strong chess playing family where his two sisters and father sit well above the average rating for most Americans.

Female chess players everywhere were fist pumping as Puja Jagasia  (photo below) took home first place in the Junior High K-9 section.  Puja is a 9th grader at University School of Nashville (USN) and has been playing since Kindergarten.  USN has become a power house chess team in this area over the past few years. USN finished tied for 3rd in the country at the 2013 Super Nationals (5th on tie-breaks). They were 8th the year before and 17th the year before that. They also have taken down the last two state titles in K-6. After the Wright event, Puja will now take over  the top rated, elder statesmen role at this accomplished chess program.

Puja Jagasia


In the elementary section, Dhruv Chandra of Battle Ground Academy and Noah Jarnigan of Ellis Middle School drew in the final round to tie for first. Dhruv qualifies only as a 4th grader in the K-6 section. He is the defending city champion in the K-3 section and will be one of the highest rated players moving up into the K-6. Noah is the definition of perserverance. He missed out on qualifying for the city championship last year on tie-breaks! It was a bummer, but he will be there for sure this time around. 

 In the primary K-3 section, Hemi Rambha and Robert Cheng tied for first. You can see a photo below of Hemi representing the United States in a Chesskid.com USA vs. Hungary match taken at the NCC. At the time of the match, Hemi was the 19th rank player in the country for 8 years old and under. Hemi attends Sunset Elementary School.Robert is a very talented youngster that attends Eakin Elementary School. 

(Above is a photo of Hemi playing at the NCC in the USA vs Hungary match) 


The next qualifier falls on Saturday October 26th at Meigs Magnet School. This is our annual Halloween event where kids , coaches and even TDs dress up and compete in a costume contest. We have a lot of fun with this event in Nashville and we hope you are can develop an awesome city championship for the chess kids in your neck of the woods. 

You can keep up with all the happenings at the NCC at www.nashvillechess.org