IM Sandeep Annotates - #2 - K6 Nationals Roundup

Team chess photo nationals

MCA at the 2023 K-6 Nationals

MCA Students showed their skills at the 2023 K-6 National Championships this May. They displayed a deep understanding of the game, from opening moves to endgame strategies, and everything in between. However, there were also valuable lessons to be learned from the games they played. Even the best players can benefit from analyzing their games to identify areas for improvement, so you definitely can as well.

game analysis with coach Daniel

A Battle Between Comrades

In the tournament, we had a faceoff between two MCA students, Natalie and Ryan. Both players were playing well up to this point, and continued to do so in the game, but in the end only one could win, and that turned out to be Ryan. Check out the annotated game here:


Some Key Takeaways

  1. You always, always have to check for your opponent’s response, especially when it seems like they are blundering. Remember your opponent is always trying to deceive you, so you have to be prepared for the possibility that their blunder is actually a trick.
  2. Keep Rule #1 in mind always, but you also have to be prepared to call your opponent’s bluff. No matter how high-rated they might be, they still will make mistakes, and the only way to beat them is to call out those mistakes.
  3. Don’t make trades that improve your opponent’s pawn structure. Examples might be undoubling their pawns, but sometimes doubled pawns are better than normal if they control key squares.
student with medals

Test Your Knowledge

Try to solve these positions and then check out the answers in the annotated game.

chess positionIt seems like Black has just given up the pawn on d6. Is this a blunder, or is Black up to something?


chess position 2
Black has just made a blunder. How does White gain a winning advantage?

analyzing on the floor

A Chance to Take Out One of the Top Seeds

One of MCA’s students, Benjamin, had played well enough to make it to the top boards of this event and face one of the top seeds. Despite starting the game with some inaccuracies and reaching a troublesome position, he came back strong posing tough questions to his opponent. Once he took back the advantage it was all upward from there and he ended up winning against one of the top seeds. By doing this he gave us all a great example of how to never give up; even the top seeds at nationals can mess up winning positions, so all of your opponents can as well. Never give up! Check out the annotated game here:



Some Key Takeaways

  1. Keeping a strong pawn center is very useful and can give you a big advantage, but you have to make sure that you don’t leave behind weaknesses that your opponent can take advantage of. It’s a very big problem if your opponent can create outpost squares in your territory.
  2. In the KID pawn structure with a g6 pawn, when your opponent pushes h4 h5 and takes on g6, you should take back with the f-pawn, because it keeps more shelter for your king and opens the f-file
  3. The knight on g3 is controlled by the pawn on g6, and it can’t reach any of the squares it wants to move to. When a piece is in a situation like this, the way to improve it is by rerouting to a different square. From g3, the knight can reach a much better square, f2, by going through an unusual square, h1.

getting ready for a big game

Test Your Knowledge

Try to solve these positions and then check out the answers in the annotated game.

chess position 3

White is trying to use his pawn center and h-pawn to attack. How should Black counter this? 


chess position 4

Black has created some weaknesses but White is up an exchange. The only problem is the knight on g3. How should White bring it back?

1st place!

A Shoutout to Everyone Who Submitted Games

We received many submissions from the K-6 Nationals, but unfortunately we couldn’t cover all of them. We would like to thank Natalie, Benjamin, Colin, and Jack: their annotated games are linked below. Thanks also to Sidhaant and Vivaant but we’re sorry that your games could not be included in this recap.  

About This Series

(IM) Sandeep Sethuraman
Our new series is written by International Master (IM) Sandeep Sethuraman and will feature analysis of tournament games played by our students.  Sandeep is a rising high school senior in Arizona and one of the top players in the USA for his age.  Students are encouraged to submit games for future articles by contacting our online team.  



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