K-12 Open Champions
By Eric Vigil
2016.03.29

Absolutely Fabulous K-12 Iowa Scholastic Open on Saturday March 26th 2016. I haven’t been to the Holiday Inn Airport Hotel in over 10 years. I used to frequent it a lot for many Army meetings and gatherings. Holiday Inn did a great job remodeling. My kids want tournaments in more fancy hotels in the future. 

In the action. Amogh Jithendra swept the K-3 section going 5-0. A commanding performance. Venkat Pathuru defeated Arun Dixit in a dramatic round 5 showdown to go 4.5 and take the K-5 section. Nathan Chen was a steamroller in the K-8 section with a perfect 4.0 (K-8 and K-12 only had 4 rounds because of longer time controls.) Andre Sayonthin Vongpanya went 3.5 of 4 drawing Ana Denison in round 4 in what can be described as a battle of future grandmasters! When Andre was asked what is the first thing you are going to do after winning the K-12 Open Championship, he didn’t say “I am going to Disneyland” He said “I am preparing for my free entry into Ice Harbor!” That is the spirit Andre, that’s the spirit. Perhaps it was more his mother thinking “Andre just saved us some money, because we were going anyway.”

The K-12 Open was so much fun, players didn’t want to leave!!!! Kids were shouting in the halls, “We want more chess! We want more chess!” So how could I deny them? Hence the Super Bonus round. Then they still didn’t want to leave! Parents must have been pulling out their hair; some probably had Easter eggs to hide or candy to buy, or dinner to make. But the cries for more chess kept getting louder. Heck Coach Bill Broich had started packing up chess sets and clocks, but how could I deny players who wanted more chess. Hence the Super Double Extra Bonus Round. I paired the Bonus rounds with players from Des Moines against Eastern Iowa as best I could so they would play students they normally don’t play. I loved the enthusiasm of players, it was a great crowd. One of the Bass Boys handed me an ice cream bar and thanked me for the tournament. It touched my heart and stomach.

Photo courtesy of Iowa Scholastic Chess Facebook page.
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