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Georgia Players Finish Strong at K-12 Grade Level Nationals 2015:  Varun Gadi earns National Title!

By Susan Justice

The K-12 National Grade Level Championships were held in Orlando, Florida, December 4-6, 2015, at the Coronado Springs Resort. Georgia players were “not just playing games;” they were out to win! Although Georgia was not represented in the 12th grade section, all other sections had at least one Georgia player with an even score or better.

First grader Varun Gadi took home the first place trophy and received the title of 2015 First Grade National Co-Champion! Gadi played well throughout the tournament, winning his first six rounds to enter the final round with a perfect score. He was facing the only other player in his section with six points; Varun needed a win to take clear first. The game would end in a draw giving both players 6.5 points and a share of the title, but Gadi came out ahead in the tie-breaks, having faced stronger competition throughout most of the tournament. Gadi says he is a little taller than his first place trophy, but I’m sure it is not by much! Archer Watson, winner of the First Grade section at Georgia Grade Level, was also one to watch at the national level. Fighting illness on day two of the tournament, Archer managed 5.0 points and earned the 20th place trophy while tying for 10th.

Moving up to second grade, the Georgia player to watch was Samarth Bellayaru. After winning his first three rounds, Bellayaru drew round four. He would finish the tournament undefeated and with a score of 6.5 by winning his final three rounds. Unfortunately for Bellayaru, 6.5 was not enough in the second grade section for first place, as the winner of the title ended with a perfect score. Bellyaru took second place and brought home some pretty impressive hardware for his growing collection of trophies.

Collectively, it could be argued that Georgia’s third graders made the best showing of all. Pranit Mishra won his first four rounds and was paired against the top rated player in the section, Expert Nico Chasin, for round five. Mishra knew that Chasin had drawn round three, and Mishra was ready to leave it all on the board. Round five of a seven-round national tournament is the Saturday night round, and it’s one of the toughest, because players are often tired both mentally and physically at that point. Mishra’s game was one of the last in the section to finish, and it was hard fought, but Chasin managed the win. Mishra won both rounds on Sunday to finish in fourth place, tied for second with 6.0 points. Mishra, however, was not the only Georgia player tied for second in the section. Dhruv Rajaganesh also finished with 6.0 points and took home the 10th place trophy. Anshul Gokul was close behind him with 5.0 points and a 14th place trophy.

Jumping from third grade to sixth, Siddarth Vijayasankar tied for second place. He won six of seven rounds with his only loss in round five against the player who finished at the top of the 6.0 group. Vijayasankar had to fight in round seven for his last win, as he was paired against a 1900+ rated player with experience in international competition. He held on for the win and brought home the 7th place trophy.

Top results from Georgia players:

11th Grade: Austin Downes – 3.5 points, 33rd place

10th Grade: Saithanusri Avirneni – 4.5 points, 17th place

9th Grade: Robbie Grattan-Smith – 4.5 points, 23rd place

8th Grade: Sagan Hartley – 5.0 points, 17th place (tie for 9th)

7th Grade: Patrick Leary – 4.0 points, 44th place

6th Grade: Siddarth Vijayasankar – 6.0 points, 7th place (tie for 2nd)
Zoe Justice – 5.0 points, 34th place (tie for 13th)
Prateek Mishra – 4.5 points, 39th place
Atticus Halley – 4.5 points, 40th place

5th Grade: Kavin Jayavel Kumaresan – 4.5 points, 47th place
Pranav Devalapalli – 4.5 points, 48th place

4th Grade: Drew Justice – 5.5 points, 11th place (tie for 8th)
Dominic Colombo – 5.0 points, 20th place (tie for 15th)

3rd Grade: Pranit Mishra – 6.0 points, 4th place (tie for 2nd)
Dhruv Rajaganesh – 6.0 points, 10th place (tie for 2nd)
Anshul Gokul – 5.0 points, 14th place
Arjun Srinivasan – 4.5 points, 47th place

2nd Grade: Samarth Bellayaru – 6.5 points, 2nd place

1st Grade: Varun Gadi – 6.5 points, 1st place, First Grade National Co-Champion
Archer Watson – 5.0 points, 20th place (tie for 10th)
Amit Mydukur – 4.0 points, 36th place

Kindergarten: Kovid Parashar – 4.0 points, 27th place

Congratulations to all of our top Georgia finishers! This article, however, is not complete without a little game analysis. Courtesy of Damir Studen, Varun’s coach and a Georgia chess champion twice over, here is Varun’s round-six game win that positioned him to compete for the First Grade Champion title on board 1 in the final round:



Coach Mishra Dhirendra submitted Pranit Mishra’s seventh game in the National Grade Level Tournament, which placed him tied for second in third grade competition:



Congratulations to all our fine Georgia players!  We’re very proud of you!


Pranit Mishra

A victorious Pranit Mishra.




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