By Ted Wieber, Sr
Twenty-five 5-student teams from 19 different schools competed at this annual state championship event held on Saturday, March 28th at Emory University. This championship is organized each year by the Georgia Chess Association (GCA), the official state affiliate of the United State Chess Federation (USCF).
The win makes it two-in-a-row for Walton High of Cobb County – historically, a rare achievement in this competition. After only a sixteenth place finish in 2013, the Walton contingent dominated last year to take their first-ever title. This year, they won all five of their matches including 20 of a possible 25 game points en route to their second championship. Walton will certainly be a favorite in 2016 since there were no seniors on this year’s team.
The champion Walton HS team consisted of Amaan Pirani, Nagaraj Bhagwat, Ilyusha Belegradek, Saad Khan, Marc Metcalf and Mitchell Stasko.
Awards went to the following top 11 high school teams; each of which won at least three of its five matches:
1. Walton, 5 (defending champion)
2. Northview, 4
3. GSMST A, 4
4. Savannah Arts Academy, 4
5. Decatur, 3.5
6. Johns Creek, 3
7. Lowndes, 3
8. North Oconee A, 3
9. Brookwood, 3
10. Oconee A, 3
11. Sprayberry, 3
For the 2nd year in a row, Savannah Arts Academy of the Chatham County public schools was recognized as the “top team from outside the metro-Atlanta region” with its 4th place overall finish.
Decatur HS received the award for best performance by a first-time participant with a 5th place finish.
The Cambridge B team from Fulton County was recognized as the strongest reserve or B-team in the competition with a 14th place standing.
Savannah Arts Academy was recognized for “farthest distance traveled” (approximately 250 miles).
This year’s event was noteworthy for especially strong numbers of both first-time participants (6 schools, 8 teams) and non-metro Atlanta teams (12 teams including 6 from the Athens area). We also had 3 schools from far South Georgia, and two teams from Macon.
The following six students won individual awards as top performers with 5 or 4.5 game points:
5 Points (Won all games, all rounds): Carter Peatman, Decatur; William Holt, Lowndes; Sanket Shah, GSMST A
4.5 Points (Undefeated all rounds, one draw): Mowei Tang, Savannah Arts Academy; Amaan Pirani, Walton; Jamil Kassim, GSMST A
The tournament was conducted in 5-board team-format with five students from each school facing off in five rounds of chess matches at a time control of G/30 (each player has 30 minutes).
First-time participant schools joining this year’s competition included Cambridge, Campbell, Decatur, Lithia Springs, Sprayberry and Stratford Academy. Other high schools competing this year included Clarke Central, North Gwinnett, Riverwood International Charter and Swainsboro.
A record six schools entered second or “B” teams in the competition: Cambridge, Clarke Central, Gwinnett School of Math, Science and Technology (GSMST), North Oconee, Oconee and Stratford Academy.
We appreciate the support for this annual state championship tournament which continues to grow. This is a unique chess competition with few parallels around the United States. The Georgia Chess Association welcomes any constructive feedback on the competition, including recommendations for improvement and expanded participation.
Beyond the annual team chess championship, the GCA sponsors several other individual state chess competitions held throughout the year that are targeted at high school students. These events can provide structured goals and competition for high school chess clubs. Check the GCA website calendar regularly at GeorgiaChess.org and consider a membership in Georgia’s non-profit, USCF state affiliate to stay abreast of chess news and opportunities.
We encourage your ideas and inquiries on all matters pertaining to the development of chess in Georgia.
Georgia High School Team Chess Champions since 2000
- 2015 Walton
- 2014 Walton
- 2013 Northview and Pace Academy (Co-Champions)
- 2012 Chamblee
- 2011 Pace Academy
- 2010 Alpharetta
- 2009 Chamblee
- 2008 Lakeside-Dekalb
- 2007 Chamblee and Lakeside-Dekalb (Co-Champions)
- 2006 Chamblee
- 2005 Chattahoochee
- 2004 Gilmer County
- 2003 Pierce County
- 2002 Clarke Central
- 2001 Clarke Central
- 2000 Clarke Central