Chess tournament at FHS draws students from around the region

Among the 82 participants in a regional chess tournament, which was sponsored by Farragut High School and took place in FHS Commons Saturday, Sept. 21, high school-aged competitors included from left, Jadian Taylor and Justin Blanchard, paired off and competing against those on the right, from front down, Justin Lee and Jakson Kirk.
Eighty-two kindergarten through 12th-grade ranked and unranked chess players from around the region turned out to play in Farragut High School Mu Alpha Theta Math Club’s fundraiser chess tournament in FHS Commons Saturday, Sept. 21.

FHS senior and MAO president Forest Chen and other members held the tournament to raise money to offset costs for students’ registration in and traveling to math competitions through the year, said Chen, a 2318-ranked national master.

“The Nationals is one of our top events,” Chen said. “We go to it every year. It’s pretty much the main goal. This year, it’s in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.”

These competitions increase interest in mathematics in high school students, he added.

Along with MAO volunteers — Nathan Stewart, Jason Lee, Reagan Barr, Emma Xiao, Jessey Yang, Prajwal Jagadish and Kenny Hoang — and sponsoring FHS math teachers — Jake Gulledge, Kelly Gruhn and Jordan Brown — the event also was sponsored by Tennessee Regional I Chess, East Tennessee Chess Club, Hardin Valley Academy Chess Club and the University of Tennessee Student Chess Club.

“Without them, we cannot do anything,” said Chen, who has been playing chess since the second grade.

However, Gulledge, lead sponsoring teacher, credited Chen and his father, Jiangang Chen, for coming up with and organizing the event. When the club sought a way to raise money, Gulledge said, “Forest just reached out to us and he and his dad have really headed this whole thing. He asked (the FHS math teachers) if we could be here as sponsors to help out.

“We gladly agreed,” he added. “All the proceeds go to our math club, which is fantastic. We’re so happy to host it here.

“This particular (chess) group, Regs4chess, meets at different places around the area. Forest reached out and he and his dad started this particular tournament that was hosted (Saturday). We’re so proud of Forest for taking charge.”

The tournament offered play for novice unrated players as well as rated competitors who are members of U.S. Chess Federation.

Rated competition winners:

• Kindergarten through third grade: Ethan Du, Farragut Primary School; Lucas Hu, A.L. Lotts Elementary School; Weixiao Zheng, Webb School of Knoxville; and Jason Zhang, Northshore Elementary School.

• Kindergarten through sixth grade: Elly Wu, Nolan Elementary School, Signal Mountain, Chattanooga; Sylvia Lin, Farragut Middle School; Max Sisson, home schooled; and Sam Kowalski, Webb.

• Kindergarten through ninth grade: Nikita Yang, Hardin Valley Middle School; Hrishi Brooks, Lenoir City High School; and Grace Feng, West Valley Middle School.

• Kindergarten through 12th grade: Stephen Xiao, FMS; Daniel Idell II, Karns Middle School; Justin Blanchard, Oak Ridge High School; and Justin Li, FHS.

Unrated winners included ...

• Kindergarten through third grade: Elena Wu, Farragut Intermediate School; Aiden Connor, Alcoa Elementary School; Annie Liu, FPS; Nina Qi, FPS; Aayush Sen, FPS; and Ellen Wu, FPS.

• Kindergarten through sixth grade: Nathanael Longmire, Lake Ridge Elementary School in Johnson City; Kobe Guillen, Lenoir City Middle School; Kobe Eavery Sanders, Alcoa Middle School; Fiona He, FMS; Emily Xu, FMS; and Dante Gomez, Alcoa Middle School.

• Kindergarten through ninth grade: Jared Mueller, Cedar Bluff Middle School; Mary Osucha, Thursday Connection, Knoxville; Isaac Gomez, Alcoa Middle School; Christian Coulter, FHS; Clara Hosenfeld, Thursday Connection, Knoxville; and William “Hunter” Mullins, LCHS.

• Kindergarten through 12th grade: Jeremy Miller, Thursday Connection, Knoxville; Jane Hosenfeld, Thursday Connection, Knoxville; Shukurulla Abulkhakimov, Jefferson County High School, Dandridge; Casey Delozier, JCHS, Dandridge; Aron Clabo, JCHS, Dandridge; Chase Herndon, JCHS, Dandridge; and Maddie Baxley, JCHS, Dandridge.

For other upcoming tournaments, young chess players can visit and register at