Niskayuna children compete in state chess tournament – The Daily Gazette

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SARATOGA SPRINGS – Advait Iyengar focused intensely on the white chess pieces in front of him before making his next move against his opponent.

Iyengar, 9, a third grader at Hillside Elementary School in Niskayuna, was one of more than 900 students who attended New York State Scholastic Chess Championship which has started Saturday and should continue on Sunday at downtown Saratoga Springs and the Courtyard by Marriott Hotel.

The tournament was canceled in 2020 due to COVID-19 and then held online last year, event director Daniel Rohde said.

The event is a six-round non-eliminatory tournament. So anyone who loses a match simply plays another match against another who lost, and vice versa. Whoever has the highest number of points at the end of the six rounds is the winner. People can play both individually and for a team.

“From my perspective, that’s all they want,” Rohde said of the possibility of the kids being able to play together again.

In the next room, Advait Iyengar’s brother, Aarush Iyengar, an eighth grader from Van Antwerp Middle School, was playing for the middle school championship.

Advait Iyengar said he started playing when he was 5 years old and learned from both his father Satish Iyengar and his older brother.

“I like to play just for fun,” said Advait Iyengar.

Satish Iyengar said he learned to play chess around the same age as his own sons while growing up in India.

“It’s an intellectual challenge,” said Satish Iyengar.

But beyond that, the game teaches life lessons about how to make a decision when there are many options on the board, he said.

During the heart of the pandemic, Advait didn’t get a lot of personal playing time with other opponents, which his mother Smita Iyengar said made him a little nervous about playing on Saturday.

However, Advait said he practiced online and with his brother and father against other people.

“I always think the other player is just as nervous as I am,” he said of preparing and focusing on each game.

Advait Iyengar said that when he’s not playing chess, he also enjoys reading and drawing.

Aarush Iyengar was unavailable for comment ahead of his first game of the day.

However, his mother said chess was his passion.

“He’s been playing since he was in second grade,” she said, noting that he plays every day.

“More than a game,” she said.

He also enjoys playing the piano, said Smita Iyengar.

Smita Iyengar and her husband both waited patiently outside the rooms where their sons competed.

“It’s incredible,” she said as she watched her two sons compete in the tournament.

Several other children from the capital region also took part in the tournament.

Reporter Shenandoah Briere can be reached at [email protected]

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Categories: News, Saratoga County, Saratoga Springs, Schenectady County

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