ChessKid Helps Host Largest Online State Championship in History!

This article was written by the organizers of event, which had more than 1100 kids. It will also be published in the next edition of Northwest Chess magazine. It was edited slightly for clarity. 

The 2020 Washington State Elementary Chess Championships was the largest online state chess championship in U.S. history, and featured a whopping 1170 players! At a time when most local and national events were cancelled due to COVID-19, members of the Pacific Northwest chess community collaborated with on Saturday, May 2 to host the Washington State Elementary Chess Championships online. 

Even kids had a home office for this one! Photo courtesy of tournament organizers.

Chief organizer Jacob Mayer orchestrated the day’s festivities, which included a live stream, raffle contest, virtual Zoom help desk, real-time tournament standings, and an online chess store featuring local vendors. The Facebook live stream, hosted by Randy Kaech, contributed to the event’s prestige with a star-studded cast of special guest speakers including Seattle Seahawk K.J. Wright, former World Champion GM Susan Polgar, WA State Attorney General Bob Ferguson, and local chess stars IM Bryce Tiglon and WFM Alexandra Botez

Despite some first-round hiccups, more than 1,000 players completed the marathon seven-hour, seven-round extravaganza. Hosting an event of this magnitude online presented several logistical challenges and was only possible thanks to the tremendous efforts of the WSECC Organizers, the ChessKid Team, and the local chess families. All games were played from home over the internet using custom ChessKid accounts that incorporated the players’ local NWSRS (Northwest Scholastic Rating System) ratings to ensure proper Swiss pairings.

Players could use a physical board for thinking but had to relay the moves on ChessKid. Photo courtesy of tournament organizers.

Due to high traffic volume on the ChessKid website, many players experienced connectivity problems and subsequently reported them post-event via a feedback form. A joint effort between the ChessKid team and the WSECC Fair Play Review Team resulted in impartial adjudication of all games in question and players’ scores in affected games were adjusted accordingly for points fairly earned.

To ensure honest play and fair games, each player signed a Fair Play Agreement before the start of the tournament in which they promised to play their own moves without outside assistance. A systematic three-pronged approach consisting of ChessKid analysis, engine analysis, and human analysis was used to check all suspicious games for fair play violations.  Only the players found by all three methods to have violated the Fair Play Agreement were forfeited from the tournament.

Just some of the players (and avatars!) on the virtual Zoom help-desk call.

For the most part, the fair play rules were followed, as less than 1% of total players were found to have violated fair play. After 3,721 games and 254,340 moves in 7+ hours of play, only the most courageous chess warriors survived the marathon experience! Special congratulations to the following state champions: Kindergarten – Ted Wang, 1st Grade – Sharvesh Arul, 2nd Grade – Shrey Talathi, 3rd Grade – Keshav Beegala, 4th Grade – Derek Heath & Erin Bian, 5th Grade – Derin Goktepe & Jack Miller, 6th Grade – Owen Xuan, Kai Marcelais & Christos Boulis, 7-8th Grade – Sonia Devaraju & Brandon Peng, I Love Chess Too – Anne-Marie Velea.

About Washington State Elementary Chess Championships

The Washington State Elementary Chess Championships (WSECC) is largest annual scholastic chess event in the Pacific Northwest. Starting with only a few hundred players in the early 1990s, the tournament now attracts as many as 1,500 scholastic chess players from throughout WA State each year. WSECC rotates between the western, southern, and eastern regions of the state on a 3-year cycle.  Since 2020, the event is run by the WSECC Organizing Committee, a group of experienced chess leaders and organizers from throughout WA State.  This committee, appointed by the nonprofit Chess Enrichment Association, is tasked with running the highest possible quality event each year. The committee’s goal is to provide the opportunity for local scholastic chess players from all backgrounds to compete in a fun, large-scale festival of chess. For more information, please visit:

About Chess Enrichment Association

Chess Enrichment Association (CEA) is a 501(c) (3) nonprofit corporation based in Lynden, WA. Its purpose is to support and host chess tournaments, camps, programs, and other events that promote chess for children, primarily focusing on elementary scholastic chess programs. CEA was founded in 2004 by Elliott Neff and now oversees the organization of WSECC starting from 2020.


To learn more about this record-breaking event, please contact: Jacob Mayer, Chief Organizer or Benjamin Radin, Pairings Director: [email protected] and [email protected]

ChessKid note: You may also contact ChessKid directly if you are interested in our assistance in running a large online event. Contact ChessKid Chief Chess Officer Mike Klein at [email protected]