Chess team continues success with league, tournament wins

December 12, 2008 — by Albert Gu

With the end of this year’s chess league, the Saratoga High team continued its dominance in both the league and tournaments, with a notable performance by freshman Brian Wai in the latest tournament.

In the league, the team lengthened a string of wins by crushing Lynbrook 6.5-0.5, Cupertino 7-0, Harker 6-0, Palo Alto 5-1, Fremont 7-0 and Monta Vista 4.5-2.5. This is the fifth consecutive year that Saratoga has won the league, which consists of 10 of the best chess teams in the Bay Area.

“No other schools are a threat to us right now,” said captain junior Charles Sun. “We’ve only lost one match in the history of the league, and that was three years ago.”

Besides the league, the chess team has also participated in other tournaments. On Thanksgiving weekend, freshmen Brian Wai and Evan Ye attended the Bay Area Chess Thanksgiving Festival, held in Berkeley. While both did well, Wai’s performance was exceptional. Wai entered as the lowest rated person in the Master/Expert section but proceeded to win third place with a score of 3.5/6.

“I entered the tournament without knowing what to expect,” said Wai. “I wasn’t really expecting to do well.”

However, Wai had one of his best performances ever. He defeated three of the top 5 Bay Area players under age 12, all rated 100-200 points above him and drew a former master. He lost only two games, both to extremely strong adult players who ended up placing first and second in the tournament.

One of the young players Wai defeated is the top rated 7-year-old in the country, who ended up tying for third place along with Wai.

As a result of the tournament, Wai gained 95 rating points, an enormous jump for a player of his caliber. Wai is currently the 86th top rated 14-year-old in the country, but will jump to around 60th as a result of his rating change.

“I was pretty happy with my playing results,” said Wai. “Hopefully I’ll be able to perform this well in the future.”

Although the league is over, the chess team is preparing for the League Championships that takes place in a few weeks. After that, they will be ready to head to the State and National tournaments next spring.

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At UC Berkeley, PhD student Abrar Abidi and research assistant Yvonne Hao have embarked on a goal of creating hand sanitizer for the Bay Area's most vulnerable populations, including the homeless and the incarcerated. Their hand sanitizer includes glycerol mixed with other products, in accordance with a formula from the World Health Organization. So far, they are producing 120 hundreds of gallons of sanitizer each week. Photo courtesy of Roxanne Makasdjian with UC Berkeley.

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