The 47th Annual Greater New York Scholastic Championships Hosts The Largest Turnout In 14 Years!

By Steve Immitt

            The halls of the historic New Yorker Hotel were bustling with young chess players on the weekend of January 26-27, as the 47th edition of America’s longest-running, USCF-rated scholastic tournament made its annual appearance in midtown Manhattan.  The 528 players who played in the Primary or Junior High Championships on Saturday, coupled with the 414 players who did likewise in the Elementary and High School Championships on Sunday, combined to create a gigantic turnout of 942 entries, representing over 178 schools from New York City and as far away as Kingston, NY—the largest turnout this event has had in this century!

            In the 66-player Primary Varsity Section, Harris Lencz of Columbia Grammar and Prep School in New York City won all 5 games en route to the championship, just like GM Hikaru Nakamura did when he won this prestigious event in 1997.   Princeton (NJ) Day School won the team competition with 13.5 points.

            The gargantuan Primary Novice Section had over 153 players, and three players emerged with perfect scores at the end: Evan Kurtz of NYC’s Anderson School, Daniel Rohacs of Princeton’s Johnson Park Elementary School and Stephen Direny of Brooklyn’s PS 282, who finished in the same order in the ensuing playoff.  New York City’s Anderson School won the team competition with 16.5 points.

            The tournament’s second-largest section was the 147-player Primary K-1 Section, which also saw a three-way playoff among three perfect scores.  This time Nathaniel Lande Schuman of NY’s Dalton School won over Charles Hua and Jordan Leung, both of the NEST + M school in Manhattan. In the team competition NYC’s NEST + M school racked up an incredible 18.5 out of a total possible 20 points— a blistering 93%-- over fellow New York powerhouse the Dalton School’s 17.5 points.

            Thomas Knoff of the Booker T Washington Junior High in New York City had a perfect result in the 53-player Junior High Varsity Section. Brooklyn’s IS 318 bested the team competition there with 14.5 points as well.

            IS 318 also took home the first place team trophy in the 62-player Junior High Junior-Varsity Section, and their Board One’s result, another 5-0 picture of perfection by Gabriel Rivera, who won the individual first place honors, helps to explain why.

            Robert F Wagner (NYC) Junior High 6th-grader Jessica Mac Arthur won six games on Saturday: the first five in the 47-player Junior High Novice Section took her to the playoffs, where she then defeated Stephen Dong of St. Joseph’s School (which came all the way from Kingston, NY),  to take home the first place trophy.  Brooklyn’s David A Boody School (I.S. 228) won the team trophy with 15 points.

            On Sunday, Justin Chen of Manhattan’s PS 184 followed the well-tested 6-point plan, defeating his five opponents in the 96-player Elementary Varsity Section before defeating Maury Abram of New York’s NEST+M school in the playoffs to emerge as the Elementary Champion.  Brooklyn’s IS 318 also continued its indomitable ways as well, winning yet a third team competition in one weekend, with an impressive 16 points.

            Johann Hatz of New York’s Collegiate School overpowered the 78-player Elementary Junior-Varsity Section with a perfect 5-0 score, while Manhattan’s Richard Rogers School (PS 166) likewise took the team honors with 15.5 points.

            Ian Nan of Manhattan’s PS 184 (the Shuang Wen School) and Alexander Halpern of PS 166, Manhattan, had to each win all five games before they would face each other in the playoffs to victory in the 106-player Elementary Novice Section, which then went to Ian.

            In the flagship 47-player Varsity section of America’s flagship regional scholastic, NM Joshua Colas of White Plains High School and NM Justus Williams of the Bronx Center for Science and Math, both long-time veterans of New York City’s Thursday Night Action Chess Circuit, faced each other in another classic Action Chess matchup—this time on Board One in the last round.  Colas won the game and the tournament, and so adds his name to the illustrious ranks of the Greater New York High School Champions.  That both of these strong Masters are only freshmen suggests an interesting new and long rivalry looming on the horizon of New York high school chess.  Brooklyn’s Edward R Murrow High School also announced their return to the ranks of the currently illustrious, taking the team honors with 15 points.

            Aaron Coppa of New York’s Stuyvesant High School won the 54-player High School Junior-Varsity Section with 4.5 points— the only player to win one of the 12 sections with less than a perfect score.  The Christian Brothers Academy of Lincroft, NJ won the team competition with 14 points.

            Christian Brothers Academy freshman Christopher Wall walloped the 33-player High School Novice Section with another perfect result, leading his teammates in the CBA Juggernaut to another team championship as well, with 14.5 ponits.

            The High School Section featured the debut of a brand new competition within a competition, comprised of two-player “Mixed Doubles” teams.  The requirements were that the team of two had to consist of one boy and one girl, and their average rating had to be Under 1800.  There was no requirement that the two players had to be in the same section or even attend the same school. 

            In the first-ever Mixed Doubles competition, Rochelle Ballantyne of Brooklyn Tech High School in the Varsity Section teamed up with Will Lounsberg-Scaife of the Junior-Varsity Section’s first-place school, CBA.  The two players’ combined score was 6 points.  Meanwhile, two other players in the Varsity Section, Anita Maksimiuk of Brooklyn’s Edward R Murrow High School and Miguel Garcia of New York’s Stuyvesant High School joined forces and also scored a combined six points.  Rochelle and Will’s tiebreaks turned out to be superior, and they captured the 12 weeks of free entry prizes, over Anita and Miguel’s 8 weeks.

            The emergence of such a wide-scale breadth of talent, especially in the younger grades, would seem to surely presage an exciting future for Greater New York Scholastic Chess!