Monday, April 14, 2014



            This weekend (April 11-13, 2014) ten girls from Weibel attended the All-Girls Nationals in outskirts of Chicago.  You couldn’t ask for a worse location for a National event—in a place where nothing existed but a few hotels.  You couldn’t ask for a better outcome for the Weibel players.

            Due to high hotel prices and a lack of available space in downtown Chicago, this year’s All-Girls Nationals took place in Northbrook.  The organizers of the tournament ran a very successful event despite the limitations they faced in a second rate location with nearly nothing within walking distance from the hotel.

            For the second straight year the Weibel girls took a first in the Under 12 division.  This was accomplished even before the last round started.  Our girls proved unquestionably that they were the best in the country in the Under 12 category.  Our Team finished with 14.5 points compared to the second place team from Florida with 9.5 points and the third place team with 8 points. Weibel has now won four National girls titles. 

In the individual competition this year, four of the Weibel girls brought home trophies.  I would claim a fifth trophy going to Weibel due to the fact that one of our girls, Aria Lakhmani, moved to Warm Springs Elementary School last year even though she continues her chess at Weibel.  Obviously, her points could not count for Weibel.  I might note that no matter how many people you have on your team only the top three players scores count. The organizers awarded 15 trophies in each section.  In the Under 12 section there were 74 entries.  This years Championships were the largest to date with 322 players. Last year the event drew 238 competitors. 

            All our girls did wonderfully.  They are wonder girls.   Only one of our ten girls failed to obtain three points out of six. The youngest of our wonder girls, and the only girl from Weibel to compete in the All-Girls National, Prisha Jain in a non-under 12 section, tied for fifth in the Under 8 section.  The highlight of her day was defeating the only player attending from Mission San Jose Elementary School.  I am not sure why MSJE failed to have more players at this event as two of their girls are ranked very high in the country.  Aside:  Despite this continued interschool competition we all cheered for the California Girls.  I even gave small California flags to the Weibel girls and those from other Northern California schools.  Sadly I ran out of flags and could not provide for every California girl.

            The wonder girls from Weibel were:
Serafina Show, Weibel student school president  and number one Wunder Kind, went undefeated.  She drew two and won four.  Her two draws were against the two highest ranked players.  In the last round she fought hard for the National title and a trip to the World’s.  Her draw placed her in a tie for second place.

Enya Mistry, with five wins and one lose, also tied for second. She had, perhaps, the best tournament of her life.  Enya came in ranked 24th in the competition.

Raisah Khan went 4.5-1.5 and tied for eighth.  Raisah defeated a 1731 rated player in her way to winning a trophy.  Raisah came into the completion ranked 29th..

Shivangi Gupta had a great day as well.  If she had won her last round she would have tied for second rather than 10th.   Shivangi’s rating was 1308 and that of her last round opponent, 1711.  Shivangi ranked 19th in the beginning of the competition.

Aria Lakhmani, from Warm Springs and former Weibel student, attended Weibel Chess again this year even though she moved out of our attendance area last year.  She also tied for 10th.   Aria entered the Championships ranked number 20.

Sashrika Pandy, Amir Rafi, Ambika Tiwari and Anvi  Surapaneni finished the weekend close to the rankings they entered with.

Above I have sung the praises to second grade student, Prisha Jain, who entered ranked number 20 and fished tied for sixth.

I would like to thank all the parents who accompanied their daughters to the Championships.  They did a beautiful job inspiring all the girls to do well.  I mean all the girls, not just their own daughters.  When I get the photos up online shortly (I hope) at, you will see one mother going to each girl
sharing her energy for their win.

Obviously, their chess instructors, both inside and outside Weibel, had a great deal to do with their success. 

Finally, I want to identify those that brought extra inspiration and lessons to the girls via Sunday training sessons:  Richard Shorman,  FIM Uyanga Byambaa, the Goodkind sisters—Barbara and Lauren, Joanna Liu and Elaine Veksler.  I am convinced that while the girls’ excellent training helped, the inspiration provided by those I named placed the finishing  touch to their victories.  We often see one person taking credit for the achievements of another, but in reality it takes a village within which a child lives to create their success.   So to those who helped our girls learn to finish a competition in style, my special thanks.

Thursday, April 3, 2014


Oliver Wu, a Weibel third grader with a 1745 rating, just received news that he won ninth place nationally in the 2013 Junior Grand Prix sponsored by Chess Magnet School and the U.S. Chess Federation.  The points are based upon how well you do in USCF Junior Grand Prix designated events throughout the nation. Oliver has had a great year so far.  He won the most difficult scholastic chess tournament of the year to date—the Under 10 open section of the CalNorth Youth Chess Age Level--bringing home the unique Kirshner Cup. The same month, February,  Oliver became the 27th player in the 25 year history of Weibel Chess to obtain Hall of Fame status.  There are a number of criteria to receive that honor.  You can view the vigorous requirements and the other honorees listed from the link at  Oliver did it by obtaining a 1600 rating.  He has made an amazing jump to 1745 in just a month and a half.  Oliver not only received a certificate for his accomplishment but also a membership in Chess Magnet School and in the Chess Lecture program.  As you know, all our Weibel Chess students get Chess Magnet School free and a select few are enrolled in Chess Lecture free as well.  Oliver has been watching the Chess Lecture tapes for many hours every week and keeping a log with reviews of each tape he views as part of his homework. KUDOS TO OLIVER! What is next for this boy wonder?—I am betting on a National title.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Weibel vs. NorCal House of Chess match, Part I

On Saturday March 29, many members of the Weibel Elementary Varsity Chess team along with players going to the Girls' Nationals competed against select members of the powerful NorCal House of Chess club, National Championship winners in 5 age groups last month at the US Junior Chess Congress in Irvine,  in the 3rd Annual Weibel versus NorCal House of Chess team match.  The match took place in an adjacent building near the NorCal House of Chess club, as the NorCal House of Chess Amateur Team, winners of the Amateur West tournament back in February, was competing simultaneously in the club, in the playoffs against the winners from the other 3 regions.  23 players from each side played in a 2 game match.  This was a friendly rivalry, as Ted Castro, the head of the NorCal House of Chess, teaches at Weibel and many members of the Weibel team also are members of the NorCal House of Chess.   In addition to the competition, the other main purpose of the match was to prepare the players for playing with longer time controls (G/90) before the State and/or National competitions.

Weibel raced out to a 13.5-9.5 point lead after the first round, but NHC came storming back and took an almost insurmoutable 23-20 lead with 3 games to go. However, 3rd graders Louis Law and Oliver Wu got wins for Weibel, which left the top boards Anthony Zhou (1842) from Weibel and Ganesh Murugappan (1835) battling in the final game to see if Weibel could take the match into an Armageddon overtime match.  The position turned into a complicated one, with Ganesh having a couple of rooks and 2 extra pawns to Anthony's rook and 2 (strong) bishops, along with a 15 to 20 minute clock advantage.  Anthony fought valiantly, eschewing draw offers, but Ganesh managed to push his slight advantage into a win, with only 15 seconds left on his clock.  NHC wound up winning the match 24-22.  Every year has been a close match and this year was no different.  It was a really good day for the NorCal House of Chess, as an hour later, they wrapped up the US Amateur Team championship.

This was an almost free event, and I want to thank Ted for helping organize the event, as well as the numerous Weibel alumni volunteers who helped TD and go over the games - Experts Kevin Moy and Joanna Liu, along with former State Champions Daniel Ho and Steven Li.  I hope some of the current Weibel players will give back to the chess community after they depart from Weibel, just like the others mentioned have.  I also thank Dr. Alan Kirshner for donating his time, equipment and trophies, and to Joyce LaForteza and Tigran Darbinyan for their usual help in Weibel and NHC events.

Weibel will face NHC in a rematch on May 3, in a prelude to the Elementary School Nationals the following weekend.

USCF Results
CalNorth Youth Chess Photos

Wednesday, March 26, 2014


Last week, while I was enjoying the sun in Hawaii, the President of the Weibel Parent Teacher's Organization gathered the Team parent votes on attending the CalChess State Championships.  Last night, the PTO President sent the results to all the Weibel Team parents.  The vote is official and for the third straight year the parents voted overwhelmingly not to attend the CalChess State Championships because they were being organized by Salman Azhar.  The parents were sent the ballots along with a link to arguments pro and con, the parent letters sent to the U.S. Chess Federation describing the unprofessional behavior, the lack of ethics and their fears of having the said organizer around children.  This information is posted at:

My hopes that Weibel children and those of other programs could be protected outside the playing hall through some form of due process procedure came to naught when the President of CalChess never responded to my e-mails requesting that we continue negotiations after the CalChess Grade Level. 

I see a strong possibility that, with many things changing next year, Weibel will be back on the State scene next year.  Meanwhile this year, as the last two years, we are focusing our attention on the National stage.  Our girls are gearing up for the All-Girls Nationals in Chicago in two weeks.  The whole Team is training hard for the National Elementary School Championships in Dallas in May.  At these events we will confront school teams from all over the country as well as strong California teams like Gomes Elementary and Mission San Jose Elementary Schools.  I do hope we can return to Northern California with at least one national title and another national championship banner for our school.

Chess is Forever!



Tuesday, February 11, 2014


I am pleased to report that the Weibel Chess Team and Club players with their parents and their coaches deserve Kudos for their results at the 7th Annual CalNorth Youth Chess Age Level Sunday, February 9.  In 2000, during a conversation with NM Sunil Weeramantry, the father of  GM Hiraku Nakamura, presently the number 1 US player, he told me an interesting story.  When Hiraku was 12 years old Sunil told him that he felt it was time to get him a Grand Master as his coach. Sunil reported that Hiraku told him that he definitely did not want a coach.  Sunil, surprised, asked him why.  Hiraku said, “Well, then they will take credit for my greatness.”

            The moral of the story is that while we as parents, friends, teachers and coaches can inspire and provide opportunities to our children their ultimate success comes from within.  A few weeks ago I had two of our Weibel coaches patting themselves for training one of our students.  I had to step in and tell them of the long successful history this young girl had in chess before she entered any of their classrooms.  She took the best from each of them and succeeded because she was the talent.  I get sick to my stomach when someone in the business of chess exploits the talents of a player who took one lesson from them, went to their camp one summer or shook their hand.   Granted, I know they are making a living at chess or  have a need to assuage their own ego, but I say, let the results speak for themselves. I thank the large number of Weibel players and their parents for coming to the Age Level, especially those parents and coaches that volunteered their time. In my mind they expressed the respect for Weibel and the program I organized because of my children and one of their coaches, Richard Shorman. 

            On to the Weibel Team and individual results in the CalNorth Youth Chess Age Level Championships, one of the largest youth chess by age events, in the nation.  This year Carl Moy skillfully organized the event. 

I was asked a few weeks back by a chess program director as to how the CalNorth Youth event drew so many players—over 500 signed up this year.  Sadly, due to sickness and other reasons many players withdrew at the last minute.   As soon as it is rated, which should be Tuesday, I will have a better count.  My response to this chess organizer was that Northern California has loads of programs and players that are boycotting, for various reason, the CalChess State tournaments under the auspices of  Dr. Salman Azhar.  These players, schools and programs have selected to come to the CalNorth events so they can test their mettle.  Added to these numbers are the players who love good competition wherever they can find it.

            Weibel took first place Team trophies in the 6, 7, 8, 9(here we tied with Chadborne), 10, and 11 year old divisions.  In the 12 year old Team division Tierra Linda Junior High School of San Carlos won and in the 13 year old division (the oldest age competing) Hopkins Junior High School took first.

            There was no Team trophy in the 4-5 Age Group or the 4-9 Special Open competitions.  The 4-9 age group was established to give the top young players longer time controls. This year Carl Moy decided to create a special award called the Kirshner Cup for first place.  He felt this would be a special legacy award for my creation of this event.  I might note that all first place winners were given certificates to attend the NorCal House of Chess Summer camps.

            Let me begin the individual awards with the 4-9 Special Open.  I worked a computer in the younger players hall.  Due to the longer time controls of the 4-9 Special Open Division they played in the 10 through 13 year-old building. After we were done I walked over to the other building and was met by an excited third grader Oliver Wu who shouted out, “I think I have won the Kirshner Cup.”   I felt great for this was another birthday award for me—Oliver is Weibel’s top third grade player and one of the best in the country.  I felt honored to give him the trophy at the awards’ ceremonies. 

            Three other Weibel 3rd grade players entered this division designed for those with a minimum 1000 rating:  Louis Law,  Vincent Wang and Eshaan Mistry.  Eshaan decided to switch over to the 4-9 Open after competing for three rounds in the 8 year old section without losing a game.

We awarded 15 plus trophies.  The plus refers to those who tied at 15th place.  We awarded logo chess medals to all participants.  The 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 year olds played 5 games.  The 10, 11, 12. 13 year olds played 4 games. Here are the Weibel trophy winners:

FIVE YEAR OLDS (23 entries):
Aakash Koneru (2nd)
David Gao (3rd)

SIX YEAR OLDS (51 entries):
Rutansh Pathak (3rd tie)
Alex Han (9th tie)
Mihir Gadre (11th )
Nik Sadeghi (11th tie)
Reyansh Samanta (11th tie)
Zayaan Madhini (11th tie)

SEVEN YEAR OLDS (79 entries):
Dharshan Vetrivelan (2nd tie)
Prisha Jain (4th tie)
Weslie Chen (4th tie)
Umesh Gopi (4th tie)
Isha Varada (4th tie)
Aryan Yenni (4th tie)
Erin Law (14th tie)
Mihir Chauhan (14th tie)

EIGHT YEAR OLDS (109 entries)
Sasha Prakir (1st tie)
Sidarth Raman (4th)
Surya Somasundaram (4th tie)

NINE YEAR OLDS (76 entries)
Aaron Lee (3rd)
Stanley Ko (3rd tie)
Zayaan Khan (3rd tie)
Frederick Zhang (3rd tie)

TEN YEAR OLDS  (75 entries)
Jeremy Chen (1st)
Rahul Ravishankar(4th tie)
Anish Kasam (7th tie)
Jaden Wei (7th tie)
Prithvi Nagamanivel (7th tie)
Tanabh Mishra (7th tie)

ELEVEN YEAR OLDS (45 entries)
Daniel Emmanuel (3rd tie)
Suryateja Mandadi (5th)
Raisha Khan (5th tie)
Avi Khanna (5th tie)
Praveen Ravindar (5th tie)
Avikam Chauhan (12th tie)
Shivangi Gupta (12th tie)

Congratulations to all of the above and to all the other Weibel attendees who spent the day with tough competition and I am sure learned a lot of chess on the practice field.

Weibel Chess


Sunday, February 2, 2014


Today was the Eighth Annual Girls State Chess Championships and for the eighth year Weibel won a section.  This year Weibel won the Team Championship in the K-6 and the K-8 sections.  Yup, Junior High School. Since we had so many great players in the K-6, we placed two of our best in the K-8—Serafina Show and Raisah Khan, both sixth graders.  Serafina won the section and became this years Junior High School Champion.  On her way to the victory she drew a 2199 rated player by forcing a draw through a three-move repetition that prevented her opponent from winning.  Today was Serafina’s birthday and a beautiful one it turned out to be.  It was also my birthday and a great one for me as well as I can add to our next year’s T-shirts that Weibel has won at least one section in a CalChess State Championship from 1990 to 2014.  This was an important win since Weibel did not attend the CalChess Grade Level and may not attend the CalChess Super States in April if the CalChess President does not respond to my request to continue negotiations on establishing due process protection for parents and players outside the playing hall.

I will add more detail in a later note about how our individual players did when I get a list of all the results.  I would be remiss in this short note if I failed to mention that the K-6 Co-Champion, winning the first place trophy on tie-breaks, was Aria Lakhmani, a former Weibel student who switched to Warm Springs last year but still attends our Friday sessions.   Kudos to all players and their supporters at today’s games.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014


My KUDOS to Joanna Liu. After last weekend's Golden State Open in Concord Joanna broke the 2000 (2005) rating barrier and is now a National Expert.  Joanna, a sixth grade student at Gomes, who led her school Team to a National Open Scholastic title last Spring, is a former Weibel student.  Joanna attended Weibel until the middle of fourth grade when her family moved into the Gomes district.  When she left Weibel she had obtained the highest ever rating for a girl in our program, 1587.  This was broken by her good friend Serafina Show last week with her 1613.  I sent the following note to Joanna's father Jay:

"Please congratulate Joanna for reaching the Expert title.  She is only the fourth ever former Weibel student to have obtained an Expert title: Kevin Moy, NM Michael Wang, NM Rohan Agrawal, Micah Fisher-Kirshner.   In my 25 years with chess in NorCal only one young girl has obtained the title of Master.  This was Jennie Frenklakh at 16 back in the 80’s.  I am sure that Joanna will break that record."