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Dublin Youth Chess: State, National and International Powerhouse

May 18, 2019

DUBLIN, CA–Two years ago, I wrote for OneDublin.org about how Dublin scholastic chess was on the rise, and would soon challenge Bay Area suburbs Fremont and Cupertino, which have long produced some of the best chess players and teams in the state and country.

Today, Dublin has in some ways eclipsed those towns, with a burgeoning youth chess scene that puts us on the state, national AND international map. Read on to learn more and/or skip ahead to the bottom if you want to learn about opportunities for your child to play!

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Fallon Middle School chess team

Established just 4 years ago as a parent-led club, Fallon Chess has almost 90 members meeting every Thursday after school. It is the most popular after-school club run under the auspices of the Fallon PFC.

Unlike many players who started competing in tournaments in early elementary school, many of Fallon’s players had never played seriously until joining. That hasn’t stopped them from rising quickly and winning many honors on the state and national stage for themselves and Fallon. Our team honors include:

  • 2017 and 2018 US Amateur Team West Scholastic Team Co-Champions
  • 2018 State Middle School Team Co-Champion
  • 2019 State Middle School Team Runner-up (team members pictured above)
  • 2019 U.S. Junior High School National Championships, 12th Place Team
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Evan Ai, State High School Champion

Fallon has had several nationally-ranked players in its short history, but the best has been current Fallon 8th grader Evan Ai.

Long one of the top 50 players for his age in the country, Evan is a candidate master who has defeated several masters in tournament play.

That includes this year’s State High School Championship, where Evan played up and went undefeated. In the final round, he upset the pre-tournament favorite, a master from one of the traditional powerhouses, Hopkins Jr. High School of Fremont, to be crowned K-12 individual state champion for 2019.

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International Master Christopher Yoo

Amazingly, being state HS champion doesn’t even make Evan the best player under 18 in Dublin. That honor goes to 12-year-old Christopher Yoo.

In 2016, then 9-year-old Christopher became the youngest master (over 2200 rating) in U.S. history. Two years later while still 11, Christopher became the youngest American to become an International Master (IM. That’s younger than 5-time U.S. Champion and former world no. 2 Hikaru Nakamura, and even the legendary late U.S. and world champion, Bobby Fischer. Oh, and Christopher is also the youngest California Open (any age) State Champion ever.

Rated nearly 2500, Christopher started playing just 6 years ago. His remarkable rise has been aided by his very supportive parents, especially his father, Young-Kyu, a retired software engineer who homeschools Christopher and takes him to tournaments in the U.S. and overseas.

Christopher is currently on a quest to to win youth chess’s triple crown – youngest Grandmaster in US history. To do so, Christopher must achieve 3 GM “norms” through strong performances in GM-class tournaments within the next year and half to beat the current record-holder. To follow Christopher’s progress, check on his dad Young’s Facebook page.

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The top-to-bottom excellence of Dublin youth chess was recognized by the Dublin City Council in April, when the council and Mayor David Haubert presented Certificates of Recognition to Christopher, Evan, and the Fallon chess team (above).

Is your child interested in playing chess? Besides the above Fallon club, there are after-school programs in local elementary schools run by DPIE and Pacific Chess Academy, and also Wells Middle School.

On weekends, the Tri-Valley Masters offers a Sunday afternoon club for tournament players and beginners of any age. It’s a non-profit started by some of the volunteers behind Fallon Chess (including myself).

For the first time, Tri-Valley and Fallon is offering week-long chess summer camps in June and August. Open to any K-12 players, classes will be small (fewer than 10 players per instructor) and divided into different sections. Coaches have experience at Fallon, Berkeley Chess School, and other schools. Learn more here.

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