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2019 DC Scholastic Chess News


DC Scholastic Chess events is a community venture, bridging individuals organizations and the community  with activities to increase children playing chess and increase access to chess tournaments in Washington, DC . In an effort to improve Girls intellectual ability to challenge the world. Chess Girls DC nonprofit organization supports DC Scholastic events. 

DC Scholastic Chess events is proud to report that the 2018- 2019 season started off July 18 with Councilman Grosso, Chairperson of the Education committee inviting the 2018 student representatives, Ayah Swan, Amanda Lossef , Zahir Muhammed  and their families to his office to recognize their outstanding performance in Chess. 

October 2, 2018, Councilman Gray presented the Denker representative, Zahir Muhammed with a special resolution recognition award before the City Council.

· The tournament season started October 12, 2018 with a collaboration between Chess Girls DC and the US Chess Center. A free Chess tournament at Emery Recreation Center for National Chess Day was sponsored by grant from Wards 3&4 Prevention organization. Special Thank You to 

Mr. David Mehler for his support and encouragement.

· October 16, seventy girls converged from, New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey, Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, West Virginia and  around the region to participate in the 2nd annual Regional Girls Chess tournament at the Homewood Suites hotel. Through an annual collaboration with Capital Area Chess we hope to make our 3rd upcoming season a bigger success.

· November’s Turkey Bowl classic at the Thurgood Marshall center had a low turn out but fun was had by all. Thank you to Anand Dommalapati of Capital Area Chess for his support and encouragement. Special Thank you to Mr. Reginald Luckett who graciously set up & packed equipment for the tournament.

· January 12, DC Scholastic Chess organized it’s first MLK Day Classic Chess tournament at the Thurgood Marshall Center. Students received water bottles as gifts from IGM Maurice Ashley.

· The Black history month chess tournament was conducted at the Thurgood Marshall Center in February. All students received Chess boards from IGM Ashely as a gift. First, second and third place winners received complimentary memberships to the Internet Chess Club in addition to trophies and medals. Special thank you to Dr. Allen Chauvenet who often tirelessly volunteers his day as tournament director support.

· The citywide Barber- Denker Championship never disappoints. Thank you to Mr.Robert Teachey and Dr. Allen Chauvenet who teamed up to make the event as smooth as possible.

o 61 students participated

o Zahir Muhammad successfully defended his title as the District of Columbia representative.

o There was a 5-minute tie break blitz between Jesse Webb and Adamson Steiner. Jesse Webb becoming the victor.

o Special Thank You to Jay Stallings for sponsoring the trophies and the ICC chess club for providing complimentary memberships to the winners of all the Spring events.

· May 6, 2019 District of Columbia Girls tournament. Amanda Losseff defended her title as the reigning all girls champion. Amanda will also represent Washington,DC at Susan Polgar’s SPICE camp at Webster University.

Special Thank You to Mr. Andy Rea who filled in as tournament director at the last minute.

Amanda, Jesse and Zahir will represent Washington, DC in Orlando, Florida at the 4-day Tournament of Champions. National Master David Bennett created a fundraiser to help eliminate some of the costs of travel for Zahir and Jesse who live in Ward 7. 

We are especially grateful for Mr. David Bennett’s time, talent and resources that he has donated to the children in Washington, DC. 

Special recognition is given to Mr. Paul Swaney who donated 25 chess sets. The chess sets were distributed to students in Ward 7&8 who participated in the Black History month tournament.

Ardent thanks to Mr. Marc Rotenberg for his encouragement and support during the season.

Feel free to download a copy of our news letter below.


Chess News

Chess News across the region

Congratulations to  Zahir Muhammad

by John D. Rockefeller V & Chris Y. Kim

Zahir participated in the 2018-2019 qualifying season for the Maryland Sweet 16  2019 on 2019.03.02-03. Since 1995 this annual invitational tournament  has featured 16 of the top K-12 Maryland players competing in a separate  section of the UMBC Open at University of Maryland, Baltimore County.  The MD-Sweet-16 tournament-announcement page  contains all tournament details, including qualification rules &  Varsity-Points scoring rules. The MD-Sweet-16 Champion will receive a MD-Sweet-16 UMBC Chess Scholarship, valued at $47,112. (There are 2 additional types of UMBC Chess Scholarships for which high-school seniors from any state are eligible.)

9 of the 9 scheduled MD-Sweet-16 Qualifiers in this qualifying season  have been completed. The Final Standings include the results of MD  Chess Roland Park February II on 2019.02.23.

Click below for the current MD-Sweet-16 Qualifiers, 2 Alternates, Backup Alternates, & Full Standings.

MD Chess schedules only 2 rounds of G/90 +30 games in the Varsity  section at MD-Sweet-16 Qualifiers (a.k.a. Local Scholastic Tournaments),  to give elite scholastic players the opportunity to compete in games  with the same time control used at the MD Sweet 16, the Denker Tournament of High-School Champions (for which the MD High-School Chess Champion will receive a MD Chess stipend of up to $750), the Barber Tournament of K-8 Champions (for which the MD Middle-School Chess Champion will receive a MD Chess stipend of up to $750), & the National Girls Tournament of Champions  (for which the MD Girl Chess Champion will receive a MD Chess stipend  of up to $750). MD Chess sets the Varsity floor at 1600 to keep the  sections reasonably sized & competitive.

Ratings are from US Chess's March Supplement.  (Players' published/official US Chess ratings in March will be used to  determine the Final Standings, regardless of whether the MD Sweet 16  will be held in February or in March.)

Current 8 MD-Sweet-16 Qualifiers by US Chess Rating
(Primary  path to qualification. Total # of Varsity Points is immaterial. The  player's place would be retained, even if the player were to withdraw  from the MD Sweet 16.)

  Place Name US
ID # US Chess Rating 2019.03 Total Varsity Points # of MS16Qs Varsity Points per MS16Q   1 Daniels, Jason 14107163 2187 33.0 1 33.000   2 Tahmassebi, Bijan 14989940 2107 26.5 1 26.500   3 Du, Jeffrey 14354251 2043 35.5 1 35.500   4 Malcolm, Douglas 14673296 2014 37.5 1 37.500   5 Jay, Neel 14803101 1972 0.0 0 #DIV/0!   6 Diep, Andrew 15127811 1964 223.5 9 24.833   7 Power, Sean Kee 15057148 1950 146.0 5 29.200   8 He, Ryan 14836300 1937 0.0 0 #DIV/0!    

Current 8 MD-Sweet-16 Qualifiers by Varsity Points
(Secondary  path to qualification. US Chess rating is immaterial. The player's  place would be retained (*), even if the player were to qualify by  rating [the primary path to qualification] and/or were to withdraw from  the MD Sweet 16.)

  Place Name US
ID # US Chess Rating 2019.03 Total Varsity Points # of MS16Qs Varsity Points per MS16Q   1 Diep, Andrew * 15127811 1964 223.5 9 24.833   2 Joshi, Ariel 14997631 1686 218.5 9 24.278   3 Ballares, Ritz 16568828 1871 207.5 7 29.643   4 Holcomb, Emerson 15557394 1746 182.5 7 26.071   5 Tarantin, Joseph 14385432 1874 175.5 6 29.250   6 Mathura, Max 15313760 1834 165.0 6 27.500   7 Granruth, Anthony 15327252 1778 150.0 6 25.000   8 Power, Sean Kee * 15057148 1950 146.0 5 29.200    

Additional Current MD-Sweet-16 Qualifiers by US Chess Rating (0-16 players)
(Players  qualify either because 1+ of the Current 8 MD-Sweet-16 Qualifiers by US  Chess Rating is also 1 of the Current 8 MD-Sweet-16 Qualifiers by  Varsity Points and/or has withdrawn from the MD Sweet 16, or because 1+  of the Current 8 MD-Sweet-16 Qualifiers by Varsity Points has withdrawn  from the MD Sweet 16.)

  9 Ye, Chen-Chen 15129761 1927 0.0 0 #DIV/0!   10 Lolla, Satvik 14717778 1888 134.5 5 26.900    

Current 2 MD-Sweet-16 Alternates by US Chess Rating
(The FINAL 2 MS16 Alternates are required  to be in the Tournament Room at 9:30 AM on the Saturday of the MD Sweet  16, ready to replace any Qualifier who were either to withdraw at the  last minute or not show up for Round 1. MD Chess will pay for the 2 MS16  Alternates' entrance fee to the UMBC Open, which runs concurrently with  the MD Sweet 16. In case a Qualifier were to withdraw from a later  round of the MS16, MD Chess prefers (but will not require) that the 2  MS16 Alternates compete in every round of the UMBC Open that overlaps  with a round of the MS16.)

  12 Ballares, Ritz 16568828 1871 207.5 7 29.643   13 Guo, Bradley 14921922 1841 0.0 0 #DIV/0!    

Current MD-Sweet-16 Backup Alternates (in descending order of US Chess Rating)
(The FINAL MS16 Backup Alternates are not required  to be on site at the MS16, as MD Chess will not pay for their entrance  fee to the UMBC Open. MD Chess will contact a MS16 Backup Alternate  shortly before the MS16 only if the Backup Alternate is needed to  replace a withdrawn Alternate.)

  14 Muhammad, Zahir 14653988 1838 28.0 1 28.000   15 Zhou, Kevin 13737126 1837 0.0 0 #DIV/0!   16 Mathura, Max 15313760 1834 165.0 6 27.500   17 Zheng, Carissa 15612136 1812 0.0 0 #DIV/0!   18 Cooke, Adam 14367881 1798 136.5 5 27.300   19 Granruth, Anthony 15327252 1778 150.0 6 25.000   20 Booth, Dylan 14931625 1759 133.5 5 26.700   21 Holcomb, Emerson 15557394 1746 182.5 7 26.071   22 Grigsby II, Sherlock 16110477 1740 37.5 1 37.500   23 Yuan, Andrew 15396035 1717 0.0 0 #DIV/0!   24 Rupeshkumar, Shiyam 14892045 1711 80.0 3 26.667   25 Joshi, Ariel 14997631 1686 218.5 9 24.278   26 Mariappan, Anish 15993356 1652 146.0 6 24.333   27 Roytenberg, Anthony 15080935 1624 53.5 2 26.750   28 Hsu, Skylar 14427353 1599 0.0 0 #DIV/0!   29 Zimmer, Kevin 14953206 1593 0.0 0 #DIV/0!   30 Cai, Joshua 14800363 1573 14.0 1 14.000   31 Owens, Ifasoke 14636278 1551 19.5 1 19.500   32 Dutton, Joshua 15592091 1551 0.0 0 #DIV/0!   33 Liu, Joshua 16222106 1539 0.0 0 #DIV/0!   34 Carlson, Richard 16398404 1527 0.0 0 #DIV/0!   35 Joshi, Gabriel 14997652 1509 20.0 1 20.000 



The 2018 National Tournament of Champions Representatives for the District of Columbia


Hosted in partnership with the Thurgood Marshall Center Trust in Washington, D.C., the annual District of Columbia Scholastic Cup Chess Tournament is the qualifier to advance to the prestigious Barber Tournament of kindergarten to eighth grade champions, The National Girls Invitational Tournament, and the Denker High School Tournament of Champions. The Barber Tournament of K-8 Champions invites the winners of the US Chess State Affiliate Championships to compete for the title of the 2018 Barber Champion. The Executive Board of United States Chess Federation has added the Barber Champion to its list of qualifiers for the World Youth or the World Cadet Championship and the US Cadet Championship. 

The qualifying student in case of a tie will be the highest finishing player on tie-breaks who meets the eligibility requirements of the World Youth/World Cadet event for the US Chess delegation and the US Cadet Championship.

The US Chess National Girls Tournament of Champions is a tournament of champions for girls from across the United States.  It is held annually in the model of the Denker and Barber Tournaments in conjunction with the US Open Chess Tournament.  The 2018 event will feature a $5,000 scholarship funded by Robert and Barbara Schiffrin.

The Denker Tournament of High School Champions is a chess tournament that occurs annually in the United States alongside the US Open Chess tournament, the Barber Tournament of K-8 Champions, and National Girls Invitational. The tournament is named in honor of the founder, Grandmaster Arnold Denker. The players will descend upon Madison, Wisconsin for a 6-round schedule. All three scholastic tournaments–the Denker Tournament of High School Champions, the Barber Tournament of K-8 Champions, and the National Girls’ Tournament of Champions–will be hosted at the Marriott Courtyard Hotel. The six-round tournament includes players from 50 states, Guam, the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, and Washington, D.C. The top prize is a $5,000 scholarship sponsored by US Chess Trust.

This year 2018, Washington, D.C. will be represented by Ayah Swan as the National Girls Tournament representative, Amanda Lossef as the Barber representative, and Zahir Muhammad as the Denker High School representative.

Ayah Swan is a nine year old third grader at Latin American Montessori Bilingual School (LAMB) in Washington, D.C. She has been playing chess since she was five years old, when she developed  interest in the game while watching her father Quito Swan and older sister Ifasadun playing the game. Her prowess in the game developed through years of coaching by her father, guidance by her mother Maryam Sabur, and playing with her sister.  Most recently, she has also been coached by DC based chess master David Bennett. She has represented her school, En Passant Chess, and Chess Girls DC at several local, regional, and national tournaments, including the All-Girls tournaments in Chicago, Illinois, and the Scholastic Nationals in Orlando, Florida. Over the past several years, she has consistently been ranked in the top 20-50 girls in the United States Chess Federation for her age. In 2017 and 2018, she won second place in the District of Columbia All Girls Citywide Chess Tournament. She recently participated in a simul with one of her inspirations, Jennifer Yu. She also enjoys playing piano, building complicated Lego sets, Mine crafting, attending robotics classes, experimenting with slime, and completing jigsaw puzzles. This summer she will attend Breakthrough Girls Chess Camp in Washington, D.C., hosted by Chess Girls DC and Woman Grandmaster and 2017 U.S. Women’s Champion Sabina Foisor.

Amanda Lossef is currently an 8th grade student at Alice Deal Middle School and has lived in Washington, D.C. her entire life. Her favorite subject is math, and she is taking geometry this year. In addition to chess, she likes to spend her free time sketching and writing fiction. She learned to play chess in third grade and quickly took interest. She likes it because the game is visual and involves calculating many moves ahead using a combination of tactics and strategy. In 2017, Amanda came in first place at the DC Girls Chess Championship and represented the District at the National Girls Tournament of Champions (NGTOC) in Norfolk, Virginia. This year, she won the first place awards in both the DC Girls Chess Championship and the K-8 District of Columbia Scholastic Cup Chess Tournament. This summer, she will represent Washington, D.C., at the annual Barber National Chess Tournament in Madison, Wisconsin.

Zahir Muhammad, a Ward 7 resident, has been playing chess since the age of three. As a nationally ranked player, he has enjoyed being a captain of his chess team and back in 2016 was a top-10 finisher at the K-12 National Championships in Orlando, FL. More recently, he won the Varsity Maryland Roland Park championship in November 2017, as well as other numerous chess accomplishments along the way.
While growing up in Southeast DC, Zahir has had the benefit of being trained by DC metro area instructor greats such as Ted Fagen, Vaughn Bennett, Shaka Greene, National Master Gregory Achonolu, Quito Swan, National Master David Bennett, Robin Ramson, and many others. Zahir’s preferred chess strategy is to attack from the flanks. “I normally start with a Queen’s Gambit to attack from the sides, and then I converge into the center. I think it reflects my personality too.” Surprisingly, Zahir believes the most valuable chess piece is the pawn. “Most people would say it’s the king or queen, but the pawn is key and the base. They are taken for granted, but they make a big impact on the game.” However, Zahir’s favorite chess piece is the bishop. “It’s the most effective because it can attack from far away and do a great deal of damage.” As a rising junior at DeMatha High School, Zahir takes honors classes and strives to be a well-rounded student. When he steps away from the chess board, he plays AAU basketball, runs track, and is a member of the Mayor’s Youth Leadership Institute and the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Washington. His favorite subjects include Math and Chemistry, and he studies both Mandarin Chinese and Spanish as part of his daily courseload. His future plans include becoming a national master by junior year and getting a college scholarship with plans to major in Chemical Engineering. The future is bright for Zahir as he plans to achieve his goals. His short term goals are to win the Denker High School Tournament of Champions in July and  reach a 2000 chess rating by the end of the year (he currently stands at a 1751 rating). Zahir wants to become an international master (2400 World Chess Federation rating or above). In the long term, Zahir hopes to start his own chess team. Zahir is the oldest of four children, and credits his father for teaching him how to play chess and his mother for driving him around to numerous practices and tournaments. When asked who inspires him most towards excellence, he points to the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan whose consistency and strength motivates him to achieve greatness in chess and in life.

After the grueling rounds of chess at Saturday’s DC Scholastic Cup Chess Tournament, Ayah, Amanda, and Zahir emerged as the victors among fellow competitors from area schools in a fierce set of games that determined who would represent the District of Columbia at the National Tournament of Champions in Madison, Wisconsin, July 2018. The Washington, DC community is so proud of all of the students who attended the event.

Submitted by:

Robin Ramson

USCF Scholastic Coordinator, Washington, D.C.


For more information on the Barber Tournament rules or Denker tournament rules go to:

If you would like to submit Chess news about a local student please contact Robin Ramson at

Congratulations to our 2018 Barber,Denker and All Girls representatives by Councilman Grosso.

Congratulations to our 2018 Barber,Denker and All Girls representatives by Councilman Grosso.