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 (PK-2) Elementary (PK-5) Middle (PK-8)
2024Samuel PetersonSanjeev GundlapalliMiguel Kirckof
2023Ryan ZhouVignesh SubramanianAarti Kannan
0000 Primary (PK-3) Elementary (PK-6)
2022Jaden WalkerSourish Majumder
2021Kai ShemeshVivian Yang
2020No tournamentCOVID-19
2019Aakash ThurairajalingamJordan Timm
2018Alice LeeTroy Cavanah
2017Arlen MuratalievLinden Lee
2016Andrew XingNastassja Matus
2015Uri Moon-RoshaJoseph Thompson
2014Nastassia MatusKarthik Padmanabhan
2013Samrug NarayananJoseph Truelson
2012Evan JiangAndrew Titus
2011Franklin ZhouZach Kollodge
2010Andrew TitusSamarth Chakrasali
2009Andrew TangBrett Kleist
2008Trevor SeetsKevin Lu
2007Daniel LekahVlad Maltsev
2006Webster An-HoKevin Ma
Matthew Dahl
2005Grant HopkinsDarek Johnson
2004Kevin BuTyler Nelson
2003Tyler NelsonDavid Kang
Adarsh Konda
2002Jonathan LiuJimmy Simonse
2001Ben CarterGenya Akselrod
2000Curtis Ware
Yuri Hupka
Daniel Smith
Zachary Best
1999Erik FagerstromNate Wong
John Bartholomew
1998Adam Garber
Ryan Marshall
Daniel Smith
1997Robert DonahueVictor Feldberg
1996Igor YakushevGrady Cantrell
Victor Feldberg
1995Matthew JensenBryan Piras
Dan Almog
Dane Kuiper
1994Matthew Jensen
Victor Feldberg
Sean Nagle
Sam Wong
1993Caleb Bousu
Matthew Jensen
Aaron Momose
Sean Nagle
1992Matthew HanscomJohn Peterson
Ryan Ogaard
Erin Wheat
1991Brian Barlow
Matthew Hanscom
Sean Nagle
Ian McManus
Doug Kasper
1990 James Allen
Jeff Sams
1989Christopher Nelson
Erin Wheat
Wade DesRosier

Vince Conley
1986 Rob Knight
1985 Alan Polk
1984Kris Breezely
1982Jeff ThiedeJoel Michelich
1981 John Thiede
1980 Tim Rademacher
1979Dan MullalyTim Rademacher
1978 Joe Longen
Tim Rademacher
1977 Dennis Olson
Joe Longen
1976 Mike Naiditch
1975Mike RogersRandy Divinski
1971No tournamentBrian Campbell
1970No tournamentMarlow Manos
1969No tournamentSuzann Carpenter

Championship Teams

year Primary (PK-2) Elementary (PK-5) Middle (PK-8)
2023Our Lady of GraceEagle Ridge Academy Charter SchoolNicollet Middle School
year Primary (PK-3) Elementary (PK-6)
2022Orono Intermediate ElementaryEagle Ridge Academy Charter School
2021BreckNicollet Middle School
2020No tournamentCOVID-19
2019BreckMetcalf Middle School
2018Robbinsdale Spanish ImmersionBreck
2017Robbinsdale Spanish ImmersionWayzata Central Middle School
Chippewa Middle School
Kimberly Lane
2015Turtle LakeCapitol Hill Magnet/Rondo
2014Turtle LakeSeward Elementary
2013Kimberly LaneSeward Elementary
2012Capitol Hill MagnetHighlands Elementary - Edina
2011Highlands Elementary
William Byrne
Capitol Hill
2010Plymouth CreekCapitol Hill
2009Capitol Hill Magnet/RondoCapitol Hill Magnet/Rondo
2008MinnewashtaLake Harriet Community School
2007Robbinsdale Spanish ImmersionLake Harriet Community School
2006Christ Household of Faith
Capitol Hill
Lake Harriet Community
2005Zachary Lane
Clear Springs
William Byrne
2004Zachary Lane
Lake Harriet Community School
Oak Point
2003Oak Hills - Lakeville
Lake Harriet Community School
Language Immersion
Technology & Language Campus

2002Zachary LaneZachary Lane
2001Zachary LaneGlen Lake/Lang. Immersion
2000Zachary Ln/Lang. ImmersionZachary Lane
1999Zachary LaneTech Learning/Zachary Lane
1998Language ImmersionZachary Lane
1997Zachary LanePlymouth MS
1996MorelandSunny Hollow
1995Zachary LanePlymouth MS/Valley View
1994Zachary LanePlymouth MS
1993Zachary LaneZachary Lane
1992NobleZachary Lane
1991Zachary LaneJJ Hill
1990Clara Barton
1985No tournamentByrne
1984No tournamentLincoln
1983No tournamentLincoln
1982No tournamentLincoln
1981No tournamentLincoln
1980No tournamentLincoln
1979No tournamentLincoln
1978No tournamentLincoln
1977No tournamentThorson
1976No tournamentMeadowbrook
1975No tournamentNoble
1974No tournament
1973No tournament
1972No tournament
1971No tournamentNoble
1970No tournamentNoble
1969No tournamentNoble

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