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Young chess players hit the boards for massive state tournament in Valencia

Posted: March 17, 2014 2:00 a.m.
Updated: March 17, 2014 2:00 a.m.

Gio Zanjanipour, center, makes a move on his opponent as 570 Southern California tournament players, ages 5 - 18, competed during the 2014 Super States Chess Tournament Championship held at the Hyatt Regency Valencia on Saturday. Signal photo by Dan Watson.

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Scores of dueling chess players walked away from the Hyatt Regency Valencia Sunday hauling trophies almost as big as some of the competitors.

For two days, more than 500 competitors, including California’s top chess players, gathered at the downtown hotel for the 2014 Super States Scholastic State Championship chess tournament.

As of Sunday afternoon, tournament host Jay Stallings, director of the nonprofit California Youth Chess League in Valencia, was still handing out trophies for excellence in chess in the hotel’s ballroom.

“The top chess players are all here,” said Sarah Lu, who runs the “Beyond Chess” club with her husband in Rowland Heights. “And, this is the biggest competition of the year.”

This weekend, 150 of the visiting club’s 400 chess-playing members made the trek to Santa Clarita for the biggest competition of the year, she said.

The Beyond Chess club, with members from Temple City and the San Gabriel Valley, won first place in the K-12 Varsity Club Team competitions.

“We’re proud of our students,” Lu said. “We had a lot of people competing in each section.”

Jaren Huang, 13, an eighth grade student at Huntington Middle School, scored big points for his team, coming away with his own individual trophy for 2nd place in the Individual K-12 competition.

“I learned a lot from Sarah and Ben (Deng),” Huang said, noting Lu and Deng are ranked international chess masters.

At last year’s Super States competition he didn’t win. On Sunday, he said he succeeded because he “practiced a lot more.”

Also, on the winning team was 11-year-old Edmond Wen, who prior to Sunday’s big club win had placed seventh in Las Vegas a couple of years ago.

“I first started in first grade,” he said. “Back then it was just moving pieces around.”
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