Utah K-6 Chess Championship

Photographs by Jonathan Whitcomb, author of the book Beat That Kid in Chess


The annual Utah elementary school chess tournament was held in Salt Lake City, on March 12, 2016, with a hefty number of players: 451 children. The event had seven independent sections, one for each grade, from kindergarten to sixth grade. Each of the seven divisions had six rounds, meaning that most kids played six games.

In addition to trophies for higher scores, medallions were given to participants who did not receive higher awards. Thank you, students, for participating. (Unlike some chess tournaments for children, this one did not have awards of chess books.)

So much happened in this full day of chess at the University of Utah, on March 12th, with these 451 elementary school students, that only the first five sections of the tournament are covered in this blog post: kindergarten through fourth grade. Fifth and sixth grade results are found here: Utah Fifth and Sixth Grade Championships.

TD headquarters as the tournament was about to begin

Tournament-director headquarters before the seven-division tournament began

Kindergarten Section

Twenty-nine kindergartners played in their division, with none of them getting a perfect score or a perfectly bad score. Three of them had five wins and one loss; two of them had 1.5 points (one with a win, four loses, and a draw; the other with three draws and three loses); most of these little kids achieved something in between.

Only four of the kindergartners had a USCF rating before the event; twenty-five of them were unrated. After the tournament, all 29 of them had a provisional rating, which varied from 105 to 875.

Here are the kindergartners who got at least 4.5 points (out of 6 possible):

  • Kelen Gold (5.0)
  • Tanish Shetty (5.0)
  • Spencer Wilson (5.0)
  • Dominic Roskelly (4.5)
  • Jack Pead (4.5)

pre-tournament setup of one room

One of the rooms before chess games began (Union Building, University of Utah)

First Grade Section

Fifty first-graders competed in their division, with one of them getting five wins and one draw (Olivia Jiang). None of these fifty youngsters lost all six games.

Only seven first-graders had a USCF chess rating before the event. After the tournament, forty-nine had a provisional rating and one had an established rating.

Seven first-graders had at least 4.5 points:

  • Olivia Jiang (5.5)
  • Tyson Tanner (5.0)
  • Kaylee Elzinga (5.0)
  • Corbin Price (4.5)
  • Daniel Luo (4.5)
  • Randy Huo (4.5)
  • Ziyao Qu (4.5)

Union Building, room with chess players

Children arrive to begin the first round of the chess tournament (University of Utah)

Second Grade Section

Sixty-nine second-graders played in their division, with none of them losing all six games. Jerry Zheng won all six of his games, a huge improvement from two weeks earlier, when he played in a speed tournament (also at the University of Utah): He was the youngest player then and lost all ten of his games in that February 27th chess tournament. What better example can we find for learning from experience and pressing forward? Jerry was one of only three kids who got a perfect score in the elementary-school championship, on March 12th, and that’s in a field of 451 competitors. Well done!

Jerry Zheng is #1 second grader in Utah

Jerry Zheng (in the blue shirt) with his trophy: #1 second-grade chess player in Utah!

Ten second-graders had at least 4.5 points in this division of the tournament:

  • Jerry Zheng (6.0)
  • Kazim Ali (5.0)
  • Juntian Deng (5.0)
  • Madeline Roach (5.0)
  • Ethan Almond (5.0)
  • Jacob Rawle (4.5)
  • Gabriel Balzotti (4.5)
  • Julius Lilley (4.5)
  • Paul Stach (4.5)
  • Jesse Stay (4.5)

Third Grade Section

Seventy-six third-graders participated in their division of the chess tournament. Ujan Ray had a perfect score, winning all six of his games.

Twelve children had at least 4.5 points in this division:

  • Ujan Ray (6.0)
  • Jacob Schonlau (5.0)
  • Ryken Brown (5.0)
  • Kaitlyn Cao (5.0)
  • Joshua Joseph (5.0)
  • Jeremiah McArthur (4.5)
  • Brian Wei (4.5)
  • Ethan McCulloch (4.5)
  • Jeffrey Price (4.5)
  • Adam Stigile (4.5)
  • Chinmay Goutham (4.5)
  • Jaden Tu (4.5)

3rd-grade pairings for first round of tournament

First-round pairings for third-grade students (click on the image for details)

Fourth Grade Section

Seventy-six fourth-graders played in their division. Chloe Parke won first place, with five wins and one draw. Ten fourth-graders had at least 4.5 points.

  • Chloe Parke (5.5)
  • Austin Roach (5.0)
  • Tyler Nielson (5.0)
  • Sapphire Wang (5.0)
  • Chendi Luo (5.0)
  • Andrew Garzella (5.0)
  • Brigham Call (5.0)
  • Tommy Carter (4.5)
  • Natalie Germanov (4.5)
  • Alex Ikeda (4.5)

(Fifth and sixth grade results can be seen in the next post on this blog.)


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 for elementary school students.

Best Book for a Chess Beginner

For a teenager or adult who knows the rules of chess but little else, the choice may be easy: the new book ‘Beat That Kid in Chess’ or the old one ‘Chess for Dummies.’ If the book purchase is for a gift, the first title is obviously much better . . .

For a beginner at chess

Beat That Kid in Chess easily leads you into the most important tactics that win games. It uses the new NIP system of chess instruction, perhaps used in no previous book on the royal game: Nearly-Identical Positions.


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