Utah State Elementary Chess Championships of 2016

This chess event, at the University of Utah on March 12, 2016, was actually seven independent tournament sections, one for each grade from kindergarten through sixth. Each was a Swiss system, which means that after the first round the children are paired according to cumulative scores. In other words, in the second round the players who won their first-round games will play each other and the players who had lost will play each other, and similar pairings apply in later rounds.

The 2016 Utah Elementary Championship, held in Salt Lake City, had a total of 451 children competing in six rounds, with the largest section being the fifth-graders: 91 chess competitors. In this post, we look at the more impressive rating improvements shown by some of the players, rather than extoll just the trophy winners. (Most of the children, however, were unrated before they competed in this tournament.)

grownup plays chess with a kid

Kid plays an informal game against a grownup, before the chess tournament begins


Major Rating Improvements in Fourth and Fifth Graders

Fourth-Grade Children

Sapphire Wang: from pre-tournament-751 to post-tourney-853 (both provisional)

Chendi Luo: from 424 up to 698 – What a great jump!

Andrew Garzella: 421 to 656 – Another big step

Brigham Call: 390 to 579 (both provisional)

Natalie Germanov: 699 to 786 – Well Done!

Jared Hardy: 456 to 609 (both provisional)

Evan Luo: 398 to 593 – Great improvement! (both prov.)

Nayantara Nair: 436 (prov) to 588 (prov) – Super!

Olivia Li:  234 to 548 (both provisional) – Excellent!

Arianna Foutz: 118 (prov) to 363 (prov) – Great progress!

Audrey Young: 405 to 503 – Big improvement for an established rating

Leif Larson: 357 to 412 (both prov.) – Well done, Leif!

Benjamin Jones: 108-P to 178-P – Beat a player who eventually got three points: Great!


pre-tournament - chess trophies

Children admire the mountain of chess trophies before the tournament begins

Fifth-Grade children

Brendon Young (who tied for first place): pre-tournament-1002 up to 1087

Benjamin Watanabe (tied for first with Brendon): from 1019 to 1079

Dylan Woodbury: 592 to 790 – What a great leap upward in chess!

Ronak Agarwal: 529 to 727 – An equally impressive gain for Ronak

Felicia Che: 542 to 654 (both provisional) – Good work, Felicia!

Joseph Pachev: 471 to 651 (both prov.) – What a big upward step!

Youlhee Choi: 505-prov to 646-prov – Doing better at chess, for sure

Joseph Krois: 466 to 580 (both provisional) – an impressive gain

Kaiyi Zhang: 461-P to 558-P – Well done, Kaiyi!

Samuel Stoehr: 371 to 513 (both prov.) – Samuel keeps improving

Adam Hill: 101-P to 359-P – Adam had only one loss in this chess tournament

Kiley Almond: 589-P to 720-P – Kiley won three chess games: well done!

Sean Babcock: 278 to 360 (both provisional) – Sean is getting better

Zachary Durtschi: 101-P to 292-P – What excellent progress for Zachary!


Fifth-grade section of the tournament

Fifth graders concentrate on a chess game, late in the tournament



Final-round pairing of fourth graders in the chess tournament

State Elementary School Championships of Utah – “Hundreds of children, with countless parents and grandparents, swarmed into the Union building at the University of Utah, early in the morning of March 12, 2016, to compete in the annual state chess tournament . . .”

New Chess Book for Beginners

Do you know someone who learned to play chess but then got discouraged from losing? “Beat That Kid in Chess” is for readers of many ages: adults, teenagers, and many older children. It accepts you as you are, leading you into knowing how to win.

Sixth grade pairings for the final round

Posted pair-ups for the 2016 Utah Elementary School Chess Championship, 6th-grade, round six

Chess book for beginners

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Teenagers’ chess book for beginners

This chess book [Beat That Kid in Chess] is balanced in depth and breadth, with lessons on how to checkmate your opponent, gain a material advantage over another beginner, promote a pawn to a queen, pin one of your opponent’s pieces, make a knight fork, avoid becoming checkmated, and much more.