Scholastic Chess in Hawaii is Booming!

4/4/2012 – Hawaii is generally off of the chess radar. It’s not home to any GMs or IMs, although there is one FIDE Master and a few National Masters. Rated events are few and far between. In truth, many of Hawaii's players get in more rated chess on the U.S. Mainland (mostly at the big opens in Las Vegas or national scholastic events) than at home in Hawaii. Pictorial report by Beau Mueller.

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Scholastic Chess in Hawaii is Booming!

By Beau Mueller

Despite the lack of titled players and opportunities for rated chess, Hawaii's scholastic chess scene is booming. A great number of local schools field active chess teams and employ chess coaches. In the past few years, between six and ten scholastic tournaments have taken place every year. Passionate coaches, supportive parents, enthusiastic schools, and a focused Hawaii Chess Federation have all contributed to the significant number of kids playing chess.


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In 1959 Hawaii (or more precisely: Hawai'i) became the most recent of the 50 U.S. states, and is the only one made up entirely of islands. The state encompasses nearly the entire volcanic Hawaiian Island chain, which comprises hundreds of islands spread over 1,500 miles (2,400 km). It is north-east of Pago Pago and one hour ahead on the clock. The archipelago is physiographically and ethnologically part of the Polynesian subregion of Oceania.

A true-color satellite view of Hawaii shows that most of the vegetation on the islands grow on the north-east sides which face the wind. The silver glow around the south-west of the islands is the result of calmer waters. [Source: Wikipedia]

This year's Hawaii State Scholastic Chess Championships, held on Saturday, March 31st, saw a big turnout of over 140 kids from twelve different schools battling it out in four sections – K-3 (Primary), K-6 (Elementary), K-8 (Intermediate) and K-12 (High School).


The venue: Washington Middle School in downtown Honolulu


A beautiful mural outside the playground of the school


The Hawaii Chess Federation's banner


The school cafeteria is packed with kids!


A player from Punahou – Barack Obama’s Alma Mater!


A player from host Washington Middle School


A shot from the Elementary section


Top boards in the High School section


Likeke Aipa (USCF 1971), from Kamehameha High School, glares confidently at his opponent


A player from the small island of Molokai (population: about 7,000)


Girls in Hawaii play chess too – and play it well!


Eldon Nakagawa (USCF 1988), a pre-tournament favorite in the High School Division


Eldon’s younger brother, Ford (USCF 1756) – 2012 Intermediate Champion


Hawaii’s highest rated scholastic player, Stephen Mau (USCF 2013)


9th grader Evan Zheng (USCF 1713), winner of the High School Division!


A sea of blue – the K-3 Team Champions from Punahou


Jason Sadayasu – individual winner of the K-3 Section


Winners of the Elementary Division Team Prize – Homeschool/Independent


Zachary Kim, absolutely giddy individual winner of the Elementary Division

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About the Author

Beau Mueller recently returned home to Hawaii after spending two years in rural Japan as an English teacher on the Japanese government-sponsored JET Programme. An active (but average) tournament chess player, he is also a second dan in shogi, and while in Japan maintained a popular shogi blog. Beau is also a father to a one year-old, an active entrepreneur, a competitive bodyboarder (not bodybuilder!), and the new Technology Chairman of the Hawaii Chess Federation. He has recently re-designed the HCF’s website.

Copyright Mueller/ChessBase


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