USN continues to place among top chess teams statewide
The USN Chess Team, the only school in state history to qualify teams in all four sections for the state championship, brought home several trophies at the 2020 Tennessee State Team Championship. Players earned second place in the K-3 Primary Division, 12th place in the K-6 Elementary Division, third place in the K-9 Junior High Division, and sixth place in the K-12 High School Division.
By Todd Andrews, Chess Team Coach
The University School of Nashville Chess Team walked in the door of the Tennessee State Chess Championship on Saturday, February 8 as trailblazers, being the first school in state history to field a team in all four team sections, and these students demonstrated clearly why they deserved to be there in all four groups.
In the K-3 Primary Group, our defending state championship team started off hot with a 3-0 victory, including a round three win versus crosstown rival Harding Academy. This set up a final round match with our perennial rivals from Grahmnwood Elementary in Memphis. In what is always a back-and-forth battle between USN and the Memphis student, we came up short this year and finished second overall in the state. Hard work and perseverance was demonstrated by our squad of Captain Matthew Golann '29, Preston Chan '29, Reese Mehr '30, and James Keiper '31.
In the K-6 Elementary Division, our team finished with 1.5 points out of 4 rounds as 12th in the state. Seeing as we had no sixth graders in this group and the entire team will return next season, the future is bright for this squad going forward. We are proud of the hard work from Captain Jonah Bendell '27, Ishaan Nachnani '28, Krish Nachnani '28, Will Nichols'28, and Teague McMillan '27.
In the K-9 Junior High Division, the USN team was slightly dinged up when we lost key team member Collin Chan '25 to the math competition scheduled the same day. Our confident Lower School players Henry Hirt '28, Loch McMillan '28, and Matthew Golann '29 played up to join Captain Evan Hauser '25, Stewart Hall '25, and Brendan West '25. The team earned two undefeated wins and two draws to finish tied for second in the state. West Collierville nudged us on tie-breaks to finish second, we officially brought home the third-place trophy just ahead of Meigs Magnet school. Unfortunately, we did not get our shot at eventual state champions White Station Middle. Hauser also brought home the Gold Medal prize for Board Two: free entries to all Nashville Chess Center tournaments this summer. We did not send anyone over the seventh grade into this K-9 division this year, which means there is nowhere left but up to go for these students.
In the K-12 High School Section, Captain Kunaal Saggi '21, Hall (again manning two boards for two teams), Krishin Parikh '22, and Lang Skarda '21 finished 2-2 in a tough group to place sixth overall. All teams first through sixth officially placed and brought home trophies to USN. A tough final round loss to McCallie out of Chattanooga kept us out of the playoffs for second place, where the High Schoolers would have been competing for a half-scholarship to Tennessee Tech University. Again, we fielded a team with no seniors that could all return next season.
Kudos also go out to high school alternates Kevin Mehr '28 and Houston Hirt '28, that were there for back up and also participated in the rated side event. Kevin even turned in a 4-0 score.
Many thanks to Coach Epiphany Peters for volunteering all day to assist in the coaching and as always, we have illimitable gratitude for the parents and families that sacrifice their Saturdays to make our team one of the best in the state.
Seventh and eighth graders brought home the first-place trophy from their first Quiz Bowl tournament, and Isaac '24 ranked No. 1 out of more than 140 students. Alexander '24, Brendan '25, and Sarah '24 also finished in the top 20.
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