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471 Players Participate in North Carolina K-12 Scholastic Chess Championship!

The 2024 North Carolina K-12 scholastic championship took place from March 1-3, 2024 at the Hilton Charlotte University Place, hosted by the Charlotte Chess Center. A grand total of 471 players participated in the USCF standard-rated tournament across nine total sections. At stake were spots in the Denker, Barber, and Rockefeller Invitational National Championships, for K-12, K-8, and K-5 champions respectively. Alongside the main tournament, organizers held a blitz championship on Friday evening and a bughouse tournament the following night.

Charlotte Chess Center North Carolina Tournament Trophies

The Main Event

The main tournament itself featured a total of nine sections of USCF standard-rated chess. Many of NC's strongest juniors, including several titled players, fought for qualifications to national invitational scholastic events.

In the K-12 championship section, FM Vishnu Vanapalli entered as an appreciable rating favorite and had a perfect score entering the final round, but he ceded a last-round draw to Nikhilesh Ram (also entering the last round on 4/4). This led to a three-way tie atop the section, as Pulak Agarwalla also scored 4.5/5, having drawn in round three and won the other four games.

Per the tournament's technical regulations, in the event of ties atop the standings, the top two players in a tie (per USCF tiebreaking procedures) would play a 3+2 blitz playoff to determine the champion. This unfortunately eliminated Agarwalla, who was the odd player out in the tiebreaking procedures, but as a consolation prize, all players tying for first received a $200 scholarship to the 2024 Castle Chess Camp!

FM Vishnu Vanapalli won both games in the blitz tiebreak against Nikhilesh Ram to take the first place trophy, in the process qualifying for Denker. Ram nevertheless had a fantastic tournament, gaining a whopping 83 USCF rating points!

In the K-12 U1500 section, four players tied for first place with 4.5/5: Aarnav Muddula, Rohan Shah, Lior Zendel, and Rich Miller. The tiebreak standings between them were very close, but ultimately the top trophy went to Muddula. Trophies were handed out to the top ten players in both the K-12 championship and the K-12 U1500 sections. Click the embedded links to view the complete lists of trophy winners!

Charlotte Chess Center Fide Master Vishnu Vanapalli
FM Vishnu Vanapalli with his trophy!

There was also a tie atop the standings of the K-8 championship section! Both Andrew Wu and Eshwar Kothapalli scored a perfect 5/5, requiring another blitz playoff to determine who would ultimately make the trip to the Barber Invitational. Wu won both blitz games and took first place, winning the trip to Barber, while Kothapalli still gained 157 USCF rating points and a spot at the Castle camp. Meanwhile, two players finished on perfect scores in the K-8 U1200 section: Sarvesh Sabarinath and Anirudh Mani, the former of whom was awarded the top trophy on tiebreaks.

Charlotte Chess Center North Carolina Scholastic Championships
The tournament hall during the 2024 North Carolina K-12 Scholastic Championships.

In the K-5 championship, which was held over six rounds, we had a clear winner with no need for tiebreaks or playoffs. Advik Prasanna scored 5.5/6, half a point ahead of Kishan Karthigeyan, and took home the top trophy as well as a secured spot in the Rockefeller Invitational tournament for K-5 winners. The top finisher in the K-5 U900 section was Swathi Praveen, also scoring 5.5/6, with four other players (Murali Kongot, Ishaanvii Ashwin, Viaan Kotla, and Rufan Wang) tying for second with 5/6.

The two top finishers in the K-3 championship were Paul Huang and Yang Yu, at 5/6 each, with the former narrowly taking the first-place trophy on tiebreaks. Each player lost a game earlier in the tournament but won the remaining games to reclaim a spot atop the standings. The clear winner in the K-3 U600 was Vasisht Sriram with a perfect 6/6 (!) score. Luca Martyanov and Khabir Muhammad tied for first place with 5.5 points each in the K-1 section, and Martyanov was awarded the top trophy.

Blitz and Bughouse!

Alongside the main event, the CCC hosted blitz and bughouse tournaments on Friday and Saturday night respectively. There were a grand total of six (!) players who tied for first in the K-12 blitz tournament, as Shravan Dash, Ivy Willis, Vihaan Pendse, Dhruv Vivek, Smayan Ammasani, and Karthikeya Malireddy all scored six points. The top prize went to Shravan Dash on tiebreaking procedures. There was also a tie atop the standings of the K-5 blitz between Yang Yu, Alan Chen, and Naitik Rathi who each scored 7/8; the former claimed the top trophy by a narrow tiebreak margin.

Full blitz rating results can be viewed at this link. Note that the USCF standings may not necessarily reflect tiebreak order and trophy standings.

In the K-12 bughouse tournament, the team of Andrew Wu and Brian Zhang only lost one game out of ten and finished in clear first place with 9/10. "Team Jayden & Julian" topped the K-5 bughouse standings, also scoring 9/10.

Charlotte Chess Center Bughouse Tournament
Charlotte Chess Center Bughouse Tournament

The bughouse winners celebrate with their trophies.

Team standings for the tournament can be viewed at this link. The top scoring team in the K-12 Championship was Ardrey Kell High School, while JM Robinson Middle School (with nine players participating!) finished first in the K-8 section and Triangle Math and Science took first place in K-5.

We hope all who participated had a great time!

For upcoming tournaments, bookmark our Events Schedule. The CCC hosts nearly 8 events a week at our facilities in North and South Charlotte, along with bi-monthly major events such as the upcoming 2024 Spring Open and ALTO tournaments.

Not a member of the CCC? Join over 800 members today!

NM Dennis Norman

Chess Coach - Club Journalist

Charlotte Chess Center


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