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September 2, 2009 > Newark youth wins Pan American chess gold

Newark youth wins Pan American chess gold

Submitted By Michelle Motoyoshi

Eight-year-old Tanuj Vasudeva from Newark won the gold medal at the Pan American Youth Chess Festival held last month, August 15-22, in Mar del Plata, Argentina. Vasudeva earned the top honor by winning all of his nine matches, a feat rarely achieved even by much older competitors.

In the Pan American Youth Chess Festival, players from all over the Americas come to compete with each other. In order to participate, competitors must be the top-ranked players in their respective country. Needless to say, this makes the competition fierce. Even so, Vasudeva won his matches handily, never losing a game and winning many in under 25 moves.

To prepare for the Pan Am tournament, Vasudeva received coaching from notable grand and international masters like Yuri Shulman, Andranik Matikosyan, Ricardo De Guzman, Enrico Sevillano and Richard Shorman. Additionally, over the past year, Vasudeva followed a curriculum set out by Ted Castro, who has been his coach since he was 5 years old.

Vasudeva also studied chess extensively on his own and analyzed his own play. The most crucial factor in his success, however, has been his determination and desire to win. He wants to prove that he's one of the best players in the world in his age group. And he has done just that.

The road to the Pan Am tournament offered Vasudeva stiff competition, but he met all of it with enthusiasm and great skill: In 2008 though he was only in the first grade, he won the state championship in the K-3 division; later that year, he also won the K-1 National Championship held in Pennsylvania by winning all seven of his games; and this year he won the state championship in the K-5 division as a second grader.

To date, Vasudeva has won the state championship four times in different divisions. His impressive record won him the number-one ranking in the U.S. in his age group when he was 7 years old, an honor that earned him his spot in the Pan Am competition and the World Youth Chess Championship.

Vasudeva has his sights set on the World Youth Championships for his next challenge. WYC will be held in Turkey in November. Also competing in the World Youth Championships will be 8-year-old Alisha Chawla (Weibel Chess), another Tri City youth and student of Coach Ted Castro. Both Vasudeva and Chawla are regulars of the Newark Chess Club (held every Friday at 7 p.m.) in the Newark Public Library.

Chawla and Vasudeva are excited about this opportunity to represent the United States in this prestigious event, and if past performance is any indicator, these two youths will make their country and community proud.

For more information about Vasudeva, you can check his Website at; and for more information about the Newark Chess Club and Coach Ted Castro, you can e-mail Castro at

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