Magnus League’s Fifth Season Concludes With Rounds 11-12 On March 4th:

Columbia Prep Wins Team Competition With 31.5 Points

Brooklyn Tech Places Second With 27.0, Stuyvesant Takes Third With 26.0

Daniel Levkov Wins The Premier Section,

 Jonathan Kogan Tops Under 1800 And Kevin Feng Captures Under 1200 Section

Samantha Dong And Daniel Levkov Win The Mixed Doubles Team Competition!

By Steve Immitt, National Tournament Director

            Columbia Grammar and Preparatory School, 36 West 93rd Street, just west of Central Park West in Manhattan, was again the host for the sixth and final regular season match of the 2017-2018 Magnus High School Chess League Fifth Season, on March 4th.  League Founder and Commissioner, International Arbiter and National Tournament Director Sophia Rohde provided her signature plentiful provender of snacks and refreshments to help start everyone’s Sunday morning.

          Thanks again to Shaun Smith and Chess-In-The Schools, as the turnout for our sixth match date of our fifth season drew 38 players representing 17 different schools from all five Boroughs of New York City.

          The tournament is a 12-round event, with two games on each match date.  The results have now been totaled.

          The three-section format resulted in another good distribution of players Sunday:  11 played in the Under 1200 Section, 17 more were in the Under 1800 Section, while 10 players, rated between 1814 and 2109, turned out for the Premier Section. 

          Each section follows a team and individual Swiss-System format. There are prizes for the both the top-scoring individuals in each section as well as the team of the four top-scoring players from the same school across all three sections.    

          Among the prizes we are awarding this season are free entries to specified Continental Chess tournaments, for the top-scorer in each section, for the four top-scoring players from the same school across all three sections, and for the winning Mixed Doubles Team!


          In the Under 1800 Section, Kevin Feng (1296) and Vernon Khong (1522), both of Brooklyn Tech, and Ella Moran (1584) of Hunter High School each won both their match games (one of Ella’s wins included a nice demonstration of the technique of forcing mate with Bishop and Knight vs. a lone King!).

          In the Under 1200 Section, Manuel Najera (1131) of Fort Hamilton High, Ayden Santiago (1089) of Brooklyn Tech and Cole Tambaro (992) of Columbia Prep also each posted 2-0 sweeps.

          For Kevin Feng (1355), Vernon Khong (1531) and Ayden Santiago (1112) this impressive showing also marked their all-time peak ratings achieved at that time.  Maxwell Beem (1874) and Javier Bernal (1876) in the Premier Section, along with Jonathan Kogan (1695) and Ann Zhang (1544), both in the Under 1800 Section, also saw their ratings reach high points through March 4th.

          In the team competition, the Columbia Grammar and Prep Lions converted their lead from February 11th, picking up a net gain of 4½ points, to win the team competition. The home team Lions’ four highest-ranked scorers, Daniel Levkov (2109) in Premier Section and Jonathan Kogan (1688) in the Under 1800 Section each finished with 8½ points.  Cole Tambaro (992) racked up 7½ points in the Under 1800 Section, while Julian Daniels (1727) scored 7 in the Under 1800 Section.  All four combined for a team score of 31½ out of a possible 48 points, and they each win a free entry into a specified Continental Chess tournament.   Brooklyn Tech was sitting in Third Place after Rounds 9-10 in February, but they picked up 5½ points to leapfrog into Second with 27 points, over Stuyvesant High’s 26 point final total.

          The last two rounds presented some tricky pairing issues.  Kevin Feng was doing so well in the Under 1200 Section, leading the field with 8 points, that his February official rating of 1198 went over the section limit after his February results were rated prior to the March 4th rounds, which used the March Official Rating List.

          As a result, he was transferred back to the Under 1800 Section (he did play a game there in the season’s first match on October 15th, which was drawn), with six half-point byes (the tournament limit).  He was paired for Rounds 11-12 on March 4 with his March rating of 1296, with a score of 3½ out of a possible 10 points.  He was paired in Round 11 against Amadi Utak of Columbia Prep, who also was promoted up into the Under 1800 Section due to his March rating surpassing the previous Under 1200 threshold.  Kevin went on to win both games in the Under 1800 Section, and those two points were counted as part of his final score in the Under 1200 Section, where was already leading the field.  With his 2½ points from the Under 1800 Section (½ from October 15 and 2 points from March 4) along with the 7 points he scored in the Under 1200 Section (between November 19 and February 11), his 9½ points were enough to capture First Place in the Under 1200 Section by a margin of one point.

          Meanwhile, Jonathan Kogan had been leading the Under 1800 Section after the February 11th match.  The next highest scoring player was his own teammate, Julian Daniels.  The USCF “plus-two” rule avoids intra-school pairings except with players with a score of “plus two” (wins minus losses) or more (Kogan was actually “plus 5” at this point).  The two tournament leaders were thus paired, because the tournament format is an individual as well as a team event.  Kogan’s victory in Round 11, despite his last-round loss to Gabriel Rivera, was sufficient to keep him in First Place in the Under 1800 Section, once again by one whole point.

          Top-rated Daniel Levkov also successfully held onto his lead from last month in the Premier Section.  His Round 11 win provided a sufficient margin to clinch First by a whole point, despite sitting out the last round.

         Feng, Kogan and Levkov will thus each also win an entry into a specified Continental Chess tournament as well.

We also have Mixed Doubles Team Bonus prizes in the Magnus League!  Mixed Doubles Teams consist of two players, one male and one female.  The players do not need to attend the same school (but they can), and may be in the same or different sections; however the average team rating of both players must be Under 2200.

          Nine Mixed Doubles Teams competed for the Mixed Doubles prizes.  The duo of Samantha Dong (1821) of Edward R Murrow High with 5 points and Daniel Levkov (2109) of Columbia Prep with 8½ successfully defended their Mixed Doubles lead with 13½ points— a half point ahead of school and Mixed Doubles teammates  Sakura Laporte (1638, with 5½ points in the Under 1800 Section) and Lavon Sykes (1919, with 7½ points in the Premier).  Samantha and Daniel thus each win a free entry to a specified Continental Chess tournament.

          Former New York State, Manhattan Chess Club, Marshall Chess Club, U.S. Open (and National High School and National Junior High) Champion Grandmaster Mike Rohde was once again on hand to review the players’ games and answer their questions.

          A very special feature of this season’s Magnus League is the in-depth and professional analysis and annotations of selected games by Grandmaster Jonathan Tisdall, three-time Champion of Norway, and also a former New York State Champion. 

          GM Tisdall has annotated two games extensively on the Magnus League website:  Calvin Yang (1856) – Pedro Espinosa (1925) from December 17th and Sophie Morris-Suzuki (2164) - Samantha Dong (1872) from November 19th.

          I think you will enjoy Jonathan’s incisive and interesting analysis.  In addition to these two games, you may also wish to check out the three games featured from November 19, Daniel Levkov (2204) – Ankit Raparthi (1982), Samantha Dong (1872) – Justin Chen (2306) and Theo Kogan (1809) – Calvin Yang (1879), along with two games from October 15, Daniel Levkov (2201) – Li Heng Wang (1834) and Lavon Sykes (1802) – Samantha Dong (1866).

          Games from February 11 include Harris Lencz (1813) – Li Heng Wang (1825), Nico Jordan (1426) – Vernon Khong (1300), Gabriel Rivera (1762) – Nico Jordan (1426) and  Julian Daniels (1677) – Ella Moran (1629).

          You can almost feel your rating going up just by playing through these games! 

          Grandmaster Tisdall will also be judging games for the William Lombardy Brilliancy Prize, which we plan on awarding soon (if you have any overlooked brilliances from the Magnus League, please submit them right away!).


            The complete results from Rounds One and Two on October 15th, Rounds 3 and 4 on November 19th, Rounds 5-6 on December 17th, Rounds 7-8 on January 28th, Round 9-10 on February 11th and Rounds 11-12 on March 4th, along with the USCF-rated results, in addition to selected GM-annotated games, can all be seen at the Magnus League webpage at as well).  There was no need for a playoff, so we are not having any  games on the May 6th Makeup Date.

Please check back for updates on the Magnus League website at:

            Thank You Everyone for our fifth and most exciting Magnus League season!

Please stay tuned for further Magnus League developments!