Harriet Bishop Elementary and Metcalf Middle School took home team trophies in the 34th annual all-district chess championship at Metcalf Middle School on Dec. 15. It was the second biggest turnout in the tournament’s history with a total of 118 students in grades 1-12 competing.
“It was a celebration of brain power and problem solving,” said Brian Ribnick, chess coordinator for Burnsville-Eagan-Savage School District 191. “Really everyone was a winner as they did their best in a spirit of friendly competition.”
Because of Community Education's investment in an online chess training site, Ribnick said players are now sound in their chess fundamentals by the time they arrive at the district championship.
“What makes the difference for players and teams is their creativity in solving the problems the chessboard throws at every move,” he said.
In the elementary level competition, the top spot was earned by Harriet Bishop Elementary, coached by Don Picard. Second and third places went to William Byrne and Edward Neill elementaries.
Individually, second-grader Aakash Thurairajalingam of Harriet Bishop became the youngest District 191 elementary champion in history by going 5-0.
Rounding out the top nine were Emery Gehrke, Harrison Stage, Aditya Chandrachekaran, Aiden Bellin, Michael Hoerter, Cedric Boos, Jack Bellin and Rebecca Rogers.
Grade level trophies were earned by fifth-grader Eli Kenny, fourth-grader Presley Martchev, third-grader Archer Bodenner, second-grader Ziran Yu, and first-grader Miles Malundo.
The primary novice event was won by Carson Schindeldecker of Rahn Elementary.
At the secondary level, Metcalf Middle School barely beat Burnsville High School on tiebreakers for the team championship title.
The individual district champion for grades 6-12 is 8th grader Gavin Kellen of Metcalf Middle School, who went a perfect 5-0. Runner up was Matt Nguyen and third place went to Ross Waataja, both Burnsville High School students.
Grade level champions at the secondary level were Mitch Kellen, sixth grade; Joseph Santos, seventh grade, and James Grabowski, eighth grade.
The winter session of chess clubs begins in January and culminates with the state chess championships this spring.