The 2018 Iowa High School (Denker) and K-8 (Barber) Chess Championships were held on Saturday January 20th at Gloria Dei Lutheran church in Iowa City. This tournament had two sections, high school (9-12) and grades K-8. The event is held annually to determine Iowa’s representatives to the US Denker Tournament of High School Champions and the US Barber Tournament of K-8 Champions. The Denker and Barber tournaments are held annually in conjunction with the U.S. Open Championship. This year the US Open will be held in Madison WI, July 28th to August 5th. Both Iowa representatives receive a stipend from the Iowa State Scholastic Chess Association.
The Iowa tournament a four round Swiss System event with a G/60: d5 time control.
The venue was spacious and worked well for a chess tournament. Free coffee and water were graciously provided by the church. The church is located in downtown Iowa City allowing parents and players several options for lunch.
Ten players competed in the High School section and 48 players competed in the K-8 section. This year’s group was the largest in recent history. The drama was high until the last game ended in both sections.
The Barber was won by Owen Fiedorowicz of Northwest Junior High School in Coralville, IA with 4.0/4.0. The top two rated players in the section, Nathan Chen and Anish Lodh both of Northwest Junior High, tied for 2nd and 3rd respectively after tiebreaks having drawn in their final game on Board 1.
After round three seven players were in contention to the title. Please observe the following 4th round pairings closely.
There were five players who had a 3-0 score. If any of these players win, they will tie for 1st place. If all five of the players with 3-0 records tie and either Josiah Power or Kyros Wu wins, they would also share 1st place creating a six-way tie for first. Therefore, seven players are in contention going into the final round.
Final round of Barber tournament: Lodh v. Chen; Fiedorowicz v. Shukla; Power v. Xu
The first result was a win by Wu giving him 3.5 points. Nathan Chen and Anish Lodh drew, both finished with 3.5 points. Power and Eddie Xu drew, this result eliminated Power from his chance to share 1st place. Owen Fiedorowicz defeated Abhyudaya Shukla in the final game of the day in this section to win the event. The fourth seeded Fiedorowicz will represent Iowa in the 2018 US Barber Championship. Congratulations to Owen Fiedorowicz and to all who competed.
Fiedorowicz battles Shukla in the final game of the day in the Iowa 2018 Barber Chess Championship
The conclusion I drew from playing through the game is that Fiedorowicz gained a small advantage in the opening and capitalized on the advantage to slowly build an increasingly stronger position until he gained a winning position. You be the judge!
Trophies were awarded in the Barber K-8 section to the top three scores overall; 1st place to players rated under 1200, under 1000, under 800, under 600, and under 400. The top unrated player received a trophy for the “best” class prize.
Overall, 1st, Owen Fiedorowicz, 2nd went to Nathan Chen on tie-break, 3rd went Anish Lodh on tie-break. Chen and Lodh won on tie-break over Eddy Xu and Kyros Wu. Under 1200, 1st Kyros Wu. Under 1000, 1st Hadi Talih, on tie-break over Anjaneya Rao. Under 800, 1st, Anjaneya Rao on tie-break over several other players. Under 600, 1st Pakshal Jain on tie-break over several other players. Under 400, Wyatt Hammes on tie-break over several other players.
Owen Fiedorowicz, the 2018 Iowa representative to US Barber Chess Championship
Nathan Chen 2nd place in Barber on tie-break
Under 1000, 1st Hadi Talih on tie-break
Under 800, 1st, Anjaneya Rao on tie-break
Under 600, 1st Pakshal Jain on tie-break
The Denker was won by Arshaq Saleem on tie-break in a playoff against Michael Takahashi. Two masters, Joseph Wan and Saleem were the top two seeds. There were no upsets in round one. The fireworks began in round two as fourth-seeded Takahashi upset top-seeded Joseph Wan.
In round Saleem and Michael Takahashi played to a draw. Andrew Kozich upset Gokul Thangavel and Wan got back on track with a win over Clive Power. Kozich’s win over Thangavel was the biggest up-set of the tournament. The pairings for the fourth round are below.
There wasn’t drama in this section. Saleem and Takahashi were the only two players in contention for the title. Takahashi had a much easier opponent than Saleem. Saleem faced the top-seeded player, Wan. Takahashi was was rated 276 points higher than his opponent, Morgan Lu. Both Saleem and Takahashi won their final games to tie for first. A playoff was needed to determine which player would represent Iowa at the US Denker High School Championship event at the US Open.
The playoff was held the following weekend in conjunction with Prairie Winter Series at the Prairie Middle School in Cedar Rapids. The time control for the playoff was G/60 d5. Saleem won the first game with white and they drew the second. Arshaq Saleem is the Denker representative for the third consecutive year. He was the Barber representative in 2014.
Saleem, a senior at Iowa City West plans to study biology in the fall and possibly attend medical school after completing his under graduate degree. He has not settled on a school as of now. Below is game one of the playoff annotated by Saleem.
(1) Saleem,Arshaq - Takahashi,Michael [E04]
2018 Denker Playoff (1), 27.01.2018
1.d4 e6 2.c4 Nf6 3.Nf3 d5 [I was not expecting him to go into a Catalan.]
4.g3 dxc4 5.Bg2 a6 6.0–0 Nc6 7.e3 Bd6 [This isn't played too often.]
[7...Bd7 This is by far the most popular move in the position, but perhaps he was going for surprise value.]
8.Qe2 Bd7 9.Qxc4 Rb8 [Again, another rare move. It is quite sensible though, because now when he plays e5 dxe5 Nxe5 Nxe5 Bxe5 the pawn on b7 won't be hanging.] [9...0–0 is the usual move.]
10.Qe2 0–0 11.Nbd2 [He told me after the game that he was expecting Nc3, but I thought the knight was also good on d2, from where it could leap to c4 to put pressure on his dark-squared bishop and slow down his counter-play with e5.]
11...b5?! [perhaps this is not so bad, but I didn't think he should weaken the queenside (in specific, the c5–square) like this.]
[11...Na5!? crossed my mind as an option during the game, and I was planning on playing 12.b3 Bb5 13.Nc4; 11...Qe7 This might have been the best, but White seems to be a bit more comfortable after 12.Nc4; 11...e5 12.dxe5 Nxe5 13.Nxe5 Bxe5 14.Nc4 This is another point of 11. Nbd2. 14...Bb5 15.a4 Bxc4 16.Qxc4 and White can work with the bishop pair.]
12.e4 e5 13.dxe5 Nxe5 14.Nxe5 Bxe5 15.Nf3?! [This seemed the most natural, but I miss an opportunity to transpose to positions similar to 12.Nb3.]
[15.Nb3! with the idea of f4 puts Black in a lot of trouble.]
15...Bg4 16.Qc2 Bxf3 17.Bxf3 [I was pleased with my bishop-pair and central majority, but Black can probably neutralize White's slight edge with precise play. However, this is easier said than done, especially when there is time pressure.]
17...Qe7 18.Be3 Nd7 19.Rad1 Bd6 20.Bg2 Ne5 21.h3 [After some slight inaccuracies from Black, my advantage is again significant. ]
21...c5 22.f4 Nc4 23.Bf2 Qc7 24.Rc1?! [I was targeting c5, but more direct play was called for.]
[24.e5! Be7 25.Rfe1 After White goes e6 next move, Black is almost lost. 25...Rbd8 26.e6 f5 27.a4!+– and Black's position crumbles.]
24...Rfc8 25.Bf3 Qa5 26.Rfd1 Bf8 27.a3 Rd8 28.Be2 Nb6 29.Rxd8 Rxd8 30.b4? [30.Be1 Qa4 31.Qxa4 Nxa4 32.b3 still kept most of the advantage.]
30...cxb4 31.axb4 Bxb4 32.Qc7 [By this point, I had given away my advantage, but I managed to win in the ensuing time scramble.] 1–0
Final position before time scramble. Saleem playing white, Takahashi playing black.
Arshaq Saleem will once again, represent Iowa in the 2018 US Denker Championship. Congratulations to Arshaq and to all who competed.
Michael Takahashi, Denker Representative Arshaq Saleem, TD Jim Hodina
You can find the cross tables for this tournament at: