The Bret Harte Elementary Chess Club traveled to nationals and put Modesto on the board, with the youngest team finishing sixth out of 35 teams in its age group.
Bret Harte teacher and chess club coach Kevin Cripe called the standing “an awesome accomplishment.” Out of 348 players in the section, second-grader Arely Raya came in 25th and will see her chess rating rise to 850. Emanuel Lara tied for 35th place.
The intermediate team placed 16th. Alondra Raya finished individually in 21st place in a field of more than 240, Cripe said. Alondra’s rating will rise to 1,078, he said, adding she is his first student to top 1,000.
More than a dozen students and nine chaperones made the trip to Dallas to compete in the National Elementary Chess Championships, thanks to private donations and families pitching in. The teams returned Tuesday from their five-day trip.
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But the trip included dealing with suspected maneuvers outside the game as well, Cripe said.
Arely won all but two of her games, both against players from Washington state entered as beginners despite having higher standings in their state, he said. Cripe said he was one of several coaches who filed complaints.
“The section had ‘ringers’ in it,” he said. “It is not an understatement to say that Arely landed herself in the middle of one of the worst decisions made by a tournament director in the history of chess.”