• Jef Leifeste/TofuNightmare

Results of State

Updated: Apr 1



On Saturday, March 20, the Idaho Chess Association sponsored the State Scholastic Chess Tournament for 2021. “State” is one of the most anticipated tournaments of the year here in Idaho. It is important for several reasons. First, the top youth players from all over the state compete to determine the champion in three sections. Second, the winners go on to play in US Chess national events. Finally, it is just really cool to get everyone together at the same time and play some serious chess. And serious it was. We had several C-players and even a few B’s and A’s. I know I sound like a broken record, but Idaho chess just keeps getting better and better.


This year’s event was held on Chess.com. 68 players competed. It was a five round Swiss with each player getting 30 minutes for their game and receiving five extra seconds for each move (G/30+5). Chess.com handled the pairing and used the Sonneborn-Berger tie break system.


Here’s how the tournament works. Players must reside in the state of Idaho and be enrolled in school grades K-12. Players must qualify to get the opportunity to play in State. There are several ways to qualify, but the most obvious way is to place first, second or third in one of our four regional qualifier tournaments. State is divided into three sections based on grade: K-5, 6-8 and 9-12. These sections were chosen because they correspond to the US Chess national tournaments. The winner of the K-5 section will represent Idaho at the John D. Rockefeller National Tournament. The winner of the 6-8 section will represent Idaho at the Dewain Barber National Tournament. And the winner of the 9-12 section will represent Idaho at the Arnold Denker National Tournament.


But wait, there’s more! The top three players in each section will compete in the Idaho Tournament of Scholastic Champions. This tournament determines the best scholastic player in 2021 regardless of age. The “TOC” is a grueling event as there are never any easy pairings. Only the best are invited to the TOC so every round is demanding, some would even say exhausting.


In the K-5 section, Hanford Chong and Leonardo Wang are co-champions with each scoring 4.5 out of 5. They will face each other in the TOC to determine who will represent Idaho at the Rockefeller. That’s going to be a heck of a match! Christian Palfreyman took third with 4 points.


In the 6-8 section, James Wei will represent Idaho in the Barber. James got a clean first with 4.5 points. Kaustubh Kodiholli grabbed second with 4. And Finn Belew came in third with 3.5 points.


In the 9-12 section, first place was disqualified, therefore, second place will represent Idaho at the Denker. Darwin Porth came in second with 4. Bryce Leifeste got third place on tiebreaks with 3.5 points. Josh Price and Justin He also had 3.5 so they too will be invited to the TOC. A fourth player with 3.5 points was also disqualified. (Note that this paragraph was updated on 2021-04-01)


And now for the first place winners by grade. They are listed below. Notice that both of the Wei boys got on the podium this year. Same for the Gao and the Heineck kids. The Nosarev and Bauman boys also performed well this year. We sure have some strong chess playing families in Idaho!


1st grade Andrew Gao

2nd Liam Nosarev

3rd Emma Gao

4th Malea Heineck

5th Luke Wei

6th Andrew Beck

7th Darren Su

8th Sina Heineck

9th Jack Nelson

10th Josh Price

11th Niall Mckenzie

12th Zackary Semancik


Thank you to all the players and parents. Things went pretty smooth with just a few last minute issues. We plan on conducting our first over the board tournament of the year in June. Next year’s State will be over the board again. And it looks like the current consensus is that the Idaho Closed will take place over the board, Labor Day weekend, at the Riverside Hotel in Boise. However, the voting for the event location is still open until the 31st. Refer to idahochessassociation.com for the voting form.

















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