Lakeville Children Won 5th Place At State Chess Tournament

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Mimi Hu
Mimi Hu

A Voice From The GN Chinese Association

When Xi Jin moved to Great Neck in 2013, she had to make weekend trips back to northern New Jersey so her son, Aidan, could continue his chess lessons. Jin was unable to find a single chess tutor for Aidan in the Great Neck area because it was not a tradition here, despite an overflow of afterschool and talent programs. She checked out Long Island–based chess programs, such as Chess Nuts and Chessmate, which provided afterschool chess classes in local schools. However, they did not want to come to Great Neck.

The 50th Scholastic Tournament
The 50th Scholastic Tournament

After three months of commuting to New Jersey, Jin had enough. She contacted Chinese parents in Lakeville whose children also shared a keen interest in chess like her son.

Together, they started The Knights Club with a few children in early 2014. They found tutors from the city. The children had most of their lessons in Great Neck House and had training sessions at their homes. Their coaches included Grand Master Gennady Saglachik and International Master Milos Sceki.

NYC chess in the school open tournament
NYC chess in the school open tournament

The children did not have regularly scheduled classes, which often resulted in cancellations and rearrangements. Most of their parents later resorted to private tutoring. But, the children improved quickly. In April 2015, William Tsay won second place in the U1000 group at the 48th New York State Scholastic Championship. In May, the club was finally able to find four players, the minimum requirement to form a team, and won first place in team matches in Long Island Chess Nuts Tournament.

School chess tournament

The group’s breakthrough came in January 2016. Vincent Tsay, 10; Ellen Wang, 8; Tristan Wan, 10; and Aidan Din, 10, formed the Lakeville Elementary School team and won fifth place out of 20 teams at the Greater New York Scholastic Chess Championship, an impressive
score in a state that has the fiercest chess competitions in the country.

Individually, Tsay came in seventh place out of 122 players and Wan beat the number three seed in one of the matches. After this tournament, Wang made it to the national top five among 8-year-old girl chess players. The group has set the best records for Great Neck in recent history.

Training session at home
Training session at home

When asked about their future plans, the children indicated that they wanted to go onto national levels. And their parents? They hope for more kids to play chess so there are regular and affordable chess programs at all levels here in Great Neck, which is still far behind other places on Long Island, such as Jericho. With their winnings and prizes, however, they are hopeful. Things have improved significantly in the two years since Jin moved here, as Master Milos is now offering two chess classes every week for about 12 children at South High School on weekends. His students now include Great Neck children from Lakeville and Baker.

If you are interested in learning more about chess, contact Haimei at haimei_duan@hotmail.com.

To share news with Mimi, email her at Mimi.Hu.GNRecord@gmail.com. 

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