15th Annual MLK Tournament

By Laura Doman

It was a cold winter day outside, but nearly 500 scholastic players were in heated competition at the 15th Annual MLK Tournament at Whitefield Academy on January 18.   Kindergarteners through high school players squared off in six sections and five rounds of play to determine individual and school team champions.  As in previous years, the tournament also hosted charity projects for the kids to engage in between rounds.  Backpacks and hygiene kits were assembled and prepared for donation to newly arrived refugee families, and young artists created hand-made valentine cards, each of which will delivered with a hot meal by Meals on Wheels to a senior citizen in the Atlanta community.

There were plenty of prizes to be won.  Trophies were awarded to the top individual finishers in each section, as well as to each section’s top scoring school teams.  For the first time at this tournament, class trophies were awarded to players in the K-3 and K-5 sections within specific USCF ratings classes to recognize their achievements within these very large sections.  Individual stipends to attend the 2016 National Elementary, Junior High, and High School Championships were also awarded to the first place winners of each section.  For those who scored three or more points out of a possible five, plus score trophies commemorated their wins in more than half of their games.  New tournament players often start their chess trophy collections with these plus score prizes, so there were many happy faces delighted to bring home their very first chess awards.

In many cases, multiple players finished with the same number of points.  To determine their final rankings, the WinTD computer system employs an intricate series of tiebreaks to evaluate the strength that each player demonstrated, based on game results and the USCF ratings strength of his/her opponents, as well as how successful those opponents fared against THEIR opponents in the other rounds.  It’s a complicated system, but it works.   Here are the results by section:

K-1:  There were 72 kindergarteners and first graders competing in the K-1 section, which played in its own tournament hall within the Skittles area.  The top two players tied with perfect scores of five points each.

  1. Aaron Gilmore
  2. Jack Landrum
  3. Ethan Pak
  4. Chloe Wang
  5. Akinola Makanjuola
  6. Arya Khalaf
  7. Finn Cunliffe
  8. Ellis Howard
  9. Chingiz Nadyrshin
  10. Pranav Paruchuri

The top three K-1 school teams, in a field of 15 schools, were:

  1. Cliff Valley
  2. Parson Elementary
  3. East Side Elementary

K-3:  The K-3 section was well attended with 145 players.  The top three players each finished with a perfect score of five points.

  1. Aiden Gilmore
  2. Allen Hong
  3. Wolfe Hudepohl
  4. Akilan Ganesan
  5. Eric Yu
  6. Supratik Panuganti
  7. Owen Laney
  8. David Zhang
  9. Devesh Venkateswaran
  10. Krish Chinta
  11. Pranav Maturi
  12. Tanishraj Udhyakumar
  13. Ajay Murugappan
  14. Andrew Dehipitiarachchi
  15. Samanyu Ganesh

Class prizes in the K-3 section went to Aarush Konda in the 600-799 ratings class, Idhanth Premkummar in the 400-599 ratings class, Jennifer Brown in the 200-399 ratings class, and to Aarushi Ammavajala among those who were Unrated players at the tournament.

Out of 26 K-3 school teams, the top three were:

  1. Trinity School
  2. Shakerag Elementary
  3. Cliff Valley

K-5:  Our biggest section with 152 players, K-5’s top two players each scored five points.

  1. Ajay Balasubramaniam
  2. Arav Saksena
  3. Karen Gao
  4. Jacob Wood
  5. Bhavin Shah
  6. Nate Jones
  7. Sriyesh Akam
  8. Evan Le
  9. Kushal Maganti
  10. Damodar Ezhilmuthu
  11. Kai Diez
  12. Jackson Cloud
  13. Brian Lee
  14. Rohan Ashley
  15. Alex Na

Class prizes were awarded to Sanjana Gowda in the 800-999 ratings class, Vinod Ruppa-Kasani in the 600-799 ratings class, Sohan Nalamati in the 400-599 ratings class, and to Aditya Palled among those were Unrated at the tournament.

Out of 27 teams in the K-5 section, three schools tied for first place – very unusual in team competition!  Trophies were awarded based on the tiebreaks.

  1. Settles Bridge Elementary
  2. Daves Creek Elementary
  3. The Westminster Schools

Middle School (grades 6-8): The top two players in a field of 89 middle schoolers tied with perfect scores of five points each.

  1. George Sorkin
  2. Alex Lilly
  3. Gokul Premkumar
  4. Sara Kapasi
  5. Matthew Lombardo
  6. Srikar Doddi
  7. Dominic Colombo
  8. Joshua Karol
  9. Christian Carver
  10. Sanket Gavankar

The top three middle school (grades 6-8) teams, out of 20 school teams, were:

  1. Sutton Middle School
  2. Northwestern
  3. Autrey Mill

High School (grades 9-12):  Sixteen high school players saw their top two finishers with 4.5 points each.

  1. Preston Lee
  2. Eli Karp
  3. Jordan Williams

Two high school teams were in the competition, and North View won the first place trophy.

Under 1000 for grades 6-12:  This section of 21 players produced two perfect five point scores.

  1. Jared Rifkin
  2. Avery Obert
  3. Sudeepa Pisipati

Griffin, one of two school teams in the Under 1000 (grades 6-12) section, won the first place trophy.

Thank you to all who played in the tournament and participated in the charity projects. The younger ones especially seemed to enjoy the combination of serious chess competition and the hands-on service projects.  A special thank you goes to the fifty adult and student volunteers who staffed this big event and ensured that it ran smoothly.  The GCA particularly wants to gratefully acknowledge Whitefield Academy for once again for hosting the MLK tournament.  Many of their students set up the tables and chairs during the holiday weekend, which was a tremendous job.  THANK YOU!!

We hope that everyone enjoyed the tournament, and we look forward to seeing y’all back again at the Metro Atlanta K-8 Team State Qualifier 2016 on Saturday, February 6 at the Cobb Galleria Centre.




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