Ethan Hinds, sixth grader at Tampa private school Hillel Academy, wins national chess championship in Miami

Ethan Hinds, a sixth grader at Hillel Academy, a Tampa private school, defeated eight of his nine opponents to emerge the K-6 Chess Champion at the United States Chess Federation National Youth Action East Championship in Miami.

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More than 330 students from across the country competed on December 10th and 11th in a grueling nine-round chess tournament.

The National Youth Action Championship is a scholastic championship chess tournament with four sections: Kindergarten through Third Grade (K-3), Kindergarten through Sixth Grade (K-6), Kindergarten through Ninth Grade (K-9), and Kindergarten through Twelfth Grade (K-12). “Action Chess” refers to tournament chess games where each player is given only 30 minutes for all of their moves.

United States Chess Federation reporter/blogger Melinda Matthews writes the short time control “allows little room to ponder and even less margin for error.”

Scholastic chess tournaments usually match players against one another using the Swiss System.

In each round, players are paired against another player who has won the same number of games with the same players never opposing each other twice.

For the first round, players are seeded by USCF rating. A player’s USCF rating is an estimate of the strength of that player, based on his or her performance against other rated players. Since the Swiss system cuts the number of perfect in half each round, it usually doesn’t take long until there is only one player remaining with a perfect score. Likewise, it usually doesn’t take long before the best players are playing one another and the competition gets really tough.

Ethan’s accomplishment is particularly impressive because five of Ethan’s opponents had a higher USCF rating than he did.

Ethan has been traveling to play competitive chess for about five years, and has accumulated quite a few trophies, but this is his first National Championship.

In addition to keeping up with school work and soccer (Ethan plays for both the Hillel soccer club and a Tampa Bay United team), Ethan spends between five and six hours a week studying chess.

Ethan is a long-time student of Hillel Chess Club director, Jeff York, and he also takes lessons from a Ukrainian Grand Master once a week via Skype.

Amy Wasser, head of Hillel Academy, says the school is getting used to seeing Ethan arrive with large trophies.

“He is always so proud to share his success with his peers and encourages younger students to become involved in our chess club,” Wasser says.

Recently Ethan has been assisting Coach York in working with the beginners at Hillel.

Founded in 1939, the United States Chess Federation is the official, not-for-profit U.S. membership organization for chess players and chess supporters of all ages and strengths, from beginners to Grandmasters. The group represents the United States in the World Chess Federation, which brings together chess players around the world.

For more information about Hillel Academy, the Tampa private school, please visit

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SOURCE:  Hillel Academy of Tampa


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