Niskayuna kids compete at state chess tournament – ​​The Daily Gazette

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Advait Iyengar focused intently 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 900 students participating in the New York State Scholastic Chess Championship, which started Saturday and was set to continue Sunday at the Saratoga Springs City Center and the Courtyard by Marriott hotel.

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

The event is a six-round tournament with no elimination. So, anyone who loses a match just plays another match against someone else who lost, and vice versa. Whoever has the highest score at the end of the six rounds is the winner. People can play both individually and for a team.

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

In the next room over, Advait Iyengar’s brother, Aarush Iyengar, an eighth-grader at Van Antwerp Middle School, was playing for the Middle School Championship.

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

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

Satish Iyengar said he learned to play chess at about the same age as his own sons when he was growing up in India.

“It’s intellectually challenging,” Satish Iyengar said.

But on top of that the game teaches life lessons like 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 playing time with other opponents in person, making him a tad nervous to play Saturday, according to his mother, Smita Iyengar.

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

“I always think that the other player is nervous like me,” he said about preparing and focusing for each game.

Advait Iyengar said when he’s not playing chess he also loves reading and drawing.

Aarush Iyengar was unavailable for comment prior to his first match of the day.

However, his mother said chess is his passion.

“He has been playing since he was in the second grade,” she said, noting he plays every day.

“More than one game,” she said.

He also enjoys playing the piano, Smita Iyengar said.

Smita Iyengar and her husband both waited patiently outside of the rooms where their sons were competing.

“It’s amazing,” she said about watching both of her sons be able to play in the tournament.

Several other kids from the greater Capital Region also participated in the tournament.

Reporter Shenandoah Briere can be reached at [email protected]

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