By Ted Wieber
Twenty-four student teams from 18 different high schools competed at this annual state team-format chess championship held on Saturday, March 19th at Emory University. The Georgia Chess Association (GCA), the official state affiliate of the US Chess Federation (USCF), organizes this championship each year.
The third consecutive win makes it a “three-peat” for Walton High of Cobb County – a rare achievement in this competition, last achieved by Clarke Central HS of Athens from 2000 to 2002. Walton won all five of their matches convincingly, taking 23 of a possible 25 game points by going undefeated on all boards with just 4 draws conceded. They will certainly be a favorite in 2017 since there was only one senior on this year’s team.
The champion Walton HS team consisted of Amaan Pirani, Nathan Wu, Nagaraj Bhagwat, Ilyusha Belegradek, Saad Khan, and Jayson Wu.
Four other high schools won four of their five team matches: Northview and Chattahoochee of Fulton County, Lakeside of Dekalb County and North Oconee HS of Oconee County.
Awards went to the following top 11 teams in tiebreak order; each of which won at least three of five matches:
1. Walton, 5
2. Northview A, 4
3. Chattahoochee, 4
4. Lakeside – Dekalb, 4
5. North Oconee, 4
6. Gwinnett School of Math, Science and Technology (GSMST) A, 3
7. Johns Creek, 3
8. Lowndes, 3
9. Northview B, 3
10. Campbell, 3
11. The Walker School, 3
North Oconee HS was also recognized as the “top team from outside the metro-Atlanta region” with its 5th place overall finish.
The Walker School of Marietta received the award for best performance by a first-time participant with an 11th place finish.
The Northview B team from Fulton County was recognized as the strongest reserve or B-team in the competition with a 9th place standing.
Lowndes HS of the Valdosta area was recognized for “farthest distance traveled” (approximately 235 miles).
This year’s event was noteworthy for an especially large number of teams from outside metro Atlanta (11 teams out of 24).
The following eleven students won individual awards as undefeated top performers with 5 or 4.5 game points:
5 Points (Won all games, all rounds): Advaith Sekharan, Lakeside; Brett Morrison, Walker; Nagaraj Bhagwat, Walton; Ian Thompson, Lakeside; Saad Khan, Walton
4.5 Points (Undefeated all rounds, one draw): Amaan Pirani, Walton; Jamil Kassam, GSMST A; Daniel Chou, Chattahoochee; Chloe Kwiatkowski, GACS; Ilyusha Belegradek, Walton; Sriram Pulavarty, Johns Creek A.
The final tournament standings and cross-tables:
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).
Two high schools competed for the first time: Montgomery County HS (which traveled 175 miles with two teams) and the Walker School of Marietta. Other high schools competing this year included Cambridge, East Coweta, Gilmer, Greater Atlanta Christian, Lithia Springs, Stratford Academy (Macon) and Swainsboro.
A record six schools entered reserve or “B” teams in the competition: GSMST, Johns Creek, Lithia Springs, Montgomery County, North Oconee and Northview.
We appreciate the support for this annual state championship tournament, which continues to thrive. 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
2013 Northview and Pace Academy (Co-Champions)
2011 Pace Academy
2007 Chamblee and Lakeside-Dekalb (Co-Champions)
2004 Gilmer County
2003 Pierce County
2002 Clarke Central
2001 Clarke Central
2000 Clarke Central
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