Lawrence Lampert founded the School Chess Association in 1969 to provide an opportunity for elementary students to play chess against one another in conditions that recognize the needs of young players. Prior to 1969, elementary players had only one option - adult chess tournaments, which often lasted until 10:00 p.m. or later. The first School Chess Association tournament was the first Minnesota Elementary State Tournament, which was held in 1969 at Noble Elementary School in Golden Valley where 136 players participated in the six-round tournament. The registration was $1.00 per player. The tournament director was Irwin Heisler. Halfway into the tournament someone pulled the fire alarm and the entire building had to be evacuated until after the fire department deemed it safe to return.

The 1st place trophy was a 6th grader, Suzann Carpenter, who attended Noble. Noble Elementary won the State Championship, with 5 of the top 8 finishers; Cottage Grove finished second. There wasn't a team trophy for 3rd grade and under, but Noble's Brian Follase won first place among the 3rd grade and under.

In 1969 junior and senior high players were included in the tournaments. The following year, 1970, Marlow Manos from Clinton Elementary in Minneapolis won the second Elementary State Championship in a seven round tournament held at Central Junior High in St. Louis Park. Noble again won the team championship. Brian Campbell of Cottage Grove won the third State Championship in a memorable final against Robbie Holbrook of Edina. Before the 1990's, tournaments were all hand paired, including the 550 player tournament held at Westwood Junior High School in St. Louis Park where players were bused back and forth from Aquila Elementary School which held 150 of the players. That tournament still remains the largest scholastic tournament ever held in Minnesota.

In the early years Noble dominated the team results with either a first or second place finish in six of the first seven years. The most dominating teams were the Lincoln powerhouses, which won seven State Championships in a row, including 4 consecutive national champions, coached by Ted Haugen. This team included two national champions, Joe Longen and Tim Radermacher, both of whom became chess masters. Lincoln was in Brooklyn Park, but like the vast majority of the team champions were a part of the Robbinsdale School District. Non-Robbinsdale students to win were J.J. Hill of St. Paul, Barton of Minneapolis, William Byrne of Burnsville and Glen Lake of Minnetonka (Hopkins School District), and Meadowbrook Elementary School (Golden Valley School District) coached by Richard Goldstein.

In the nineties team trophies were added to the primary tournament. Winner of the first Primary State Championship was Sunny Hollow coached by Iric Lampert. Zachary Lane coached by Russ Erickson, Pilgrim Lane coached by Jean Scheau, Moreland Elementary coached by Bill Heinemann, and Robbinsdale Spanish Immersion coached by Sandy Mullaney have also won the State Primary Championship.

Through the years the School Chess Association has widened its mission to include summer chess day camp and helping schools to include a chess club in their buildings. There may well be some mistakes and names that I have not included in this short history. These were not intentional. If you know of any please send them to me and I will include them. I will include some of the coach's names in an update. I would also like to know coaches and schools of the two Cottage Grove schools in the early days of the SCA.

The School Chess Association is affiliated with USCF (United States Chess Federation) and MAEF (Minnesota Academic Excellence Foundation).


Merit Points History

Dick Harbeck developed a system of Merit Points to further encourage kids in his chess club to play tournaments in the Hastings area. Merit Points were incorporated into the School Chess Association in the early seventies. It was based on a percentage of performance. If you were in the bottom half of a tournament you would get 1 merit point, top 50% you would receive 2 merit points, the top 25% you would receive 3 merit points, the top 10% you would get 4 merit points. If you earned a trophy you would receive 5 merit points. The top was 100 merit points. The School Chess Association has changed the merit points and made it more accessable to everyone. We now have added merit point awards to include a 200, 300, 400, and 500-point awards.

The merit points had to be done manually, a complete crosstable of the tournament results had to be done, including tie breaking of all scores to come up with a ranked finish for the players so they could be grouped in percentiles and converted into merit points. Imagine the time it took to do a large tournament of 300, 400, or even 500 players! Frank Manos, the first vice-president spent many hours on calculating the merit points for each individual. All the merit points had to be recorded for each player. Penciling in the results for each player in a ledger was done by hand. Eventually the ledger amounted to nine large, heavy volumes that would be brought to each tournament so we could show people their merit points. In the 90's Robert Altman, a computer programmer, developed a system for computing the merit points with the score automatically updating the merit points at the end of each tournament. This is the system that is used today.


Past Minnesota State Chess Champions
(page down for Team Champions)

0000 Primary
2022 Jaden Walker Sourish Majumder
2021 Kai Shemesh Vivian Yang
2020 No tournament COVID-19
2019 Aakash Thurairajalingam Jordan Timm
2018 Alice Lee Troy Cavanah
2017 Arlen Murataliev Linden Lee
2016 Andrew Xing Nastassja Matus
2015 Uri Moon-Rosha Joseph Thompson
2014 Nastassia Matus Karthik Padmanabhan
2013 Samrug Narayanan Joseph Truelson
2012 Evan Jiang Andrew Titus
2011 Franklin Zhou Zach Kollodge
2010 Andrew Titus Samarth Chakrasali
2009 Andrew Tang Brett Kleist
2008 Trevor Seets Kevin Lu
2007 Daniel Lekah Vlad Maltsev
2006 Webster An-Ho Matthew Dahl
Kevin Ma
2005 Grant Hopkins Darek Johnson
2004 Kevin Bu Tyler Nelson
2003 Tyler Nelson Adarsh Konda
David Kang
2002 Jonathan Liu Jimmy Simonse
2001 Ben Carter Genya Akselrod
2000 Yuri Hupka
Curtis Ware
Zachary Best
Daniel Smith
1999 Erik Fagerstrom John Bartholomew
Nate Wong
1998 Adam Garber
Ryan Marshall
Daniel Smith
1997 Robert Donahue Victor Feldberg
1996 Igor Yakushev Victor Feldberg
Grady Cantrell
1995 Matthew Jensen Dan Almog
Dane Kuiper
Bryan Piras
1994 Matthew Jensen
Victor Feldberg
Sean Nagle
Sam Wong
1993 Matthew Jensen
Caleb Bousu
Sean Nagle
Aaron Momose
1992 Matthew Hanscom Erin Wheat
John Peterson
Ryan Ogaard

Brian Barlow
Matthew Hanscom
Sean Nagle

Ian McManus
Doug Kasper

1990   James Allen
Jeff Sams
1989 Wade DesRosier
Erin Wheat
Christopher Nelson
Vince Conley 
1986   Rob Knight
1985   Alan Polk
1984 Kris Breezely  
1982 Jeff Thiede Joel Michelich
1981   John Thiede
1980   Tim Rademacher
1979 Dan Mullaly Tim Rademacher
1978   Tim Rademacher
Joe Longen
1977   Dennis Olson
Joe Longen
1976   Mike Naiditch
1975 Mike Rogers Randy Divinski
1971 No tournament Brian Campbell
1970 No tournament Marlow Manos
1969 No tournament Suzann Carpenter

Championship Teams

0000 Primary Elementary
2022 Orono Intermediate Elementary Eagle Ridge Academy Charter School
2021 Breck Nicollet Middle School
2020 No tournament COVID-19
2019 Breck Metcalf Middle School
2018 Robbinsdale Spanish Immersion Breck
2017 Robbinsdale Spanish Immersion Wayzata Central Middle School
2016 Breck Chippewa Middle School
Kimberly Lane
2015 Turtle Lake Capitol Hill Magnet/Rondo
2014 Turtle Lake Seward Elementary
2013 Kimberly Lane Seward Elementary
2012 Capitol Hill Magnet Highlands Elementary, Edina
2011 Highlands Elementary William Byrne
Capitol Hill
2010 Plymouth Creek Capitol Hill
2009 Capitol Hill Magnet/Rondo Capitol Hill Magnet/Rondo
2008 Minnewashta Lake Harriet Community School
2007 Robbinsdale Spanish Immersion Lake Harriet Community School
2006 Christ Household of Faith
Capitol Hill
Lake Harriet Community
2005 Zachary Lane,
Clear Springs
William Byrne,

Zachary Lane,
Lake Harriet Community School

Oak Point
2003 Oak Hills - Lakeville,
Lake Harriet Community School
Language Immersion
Technology & Language Campus
2002 Zachary Lane Zachary Lane
2001 Zachary Lane Glen Lake/Lang. Immersion
2000 Zachary Ln/Lang. Immersion Zachary Lane
1999 Zachary Lane Tech Learning/Zachary Lane
1998 Language Immersion Zachary Lane
1997 Zachary Lane Plymouth MS
1996 Moreland Sunny Hollow
1995 Zachary Lane Plymouth MS/Valley View
1994 Zachary Lane Plymouth MS
1993 Zachary Lane Zachary Lane
1992 Noble Zachary Lane
1991 Zachary Lane JJ Hill
1990   Clara Barton
1986 Sonnesyn Byrne
1985 No tournament Byrne
1984 No tournament Lincoln
1983 No tournament Lincoln
1982 No tournament Lincoln
1981 No tournament Lincoln
1980 No tournament Lincoln
1979 No tournament Lincoln
1978 No tournament Lincoln
1977 No tournament Thorson
1976 No tournament Meadowbrook
1975 No tournament Noble
1974 No tournament  
1973 No tournament  
1972 No tournament  
1971 No tournament Noble
1970 No tournament Noble
1969 No tournament Noble


If anyone can fill in the holes please contact Lorene at lorene@schoolchess.org