Overview of the 2023 Hawaii Scholastic State Chess Championship


Yusuf Siddiqui, Staff Writer

Over the weekend on April 15, 2023, one hundred sixty three players came to Washington Middle School to play chess together to compete for trophies for their school and medals for individual performances based on grade level.

Gabriel White, the Hawaii open state champion, had a few opening remarks to get the tournament participants fired up and ready for the tournament, and to remind everyone that the most important thing is to have fun. He also let everyone know that losing one round doesn’t mean the tournament is over, and to not be disappointed by one loss because that could cause the rest of your tournament to end detrimental. When asked what is the best way to improve at chess, White said “focus on learning from your games, especially the ones you lost, and to do a consistent amount of chess puzzles each day, even if it’s only a couple.”

Out of all the schools that participated in the tournaments and these scholastic chess tournaments as a whole, there’s always one school who reigns supreme, that being the Hawaii Homeschool team. That team is coached by an experienced player named Chet Gionson, who has been coaching chess for over 20 years at several schools.

“My favorite part about coaching is being able to share my knowledge to the youth and see them grow as players and people,” says Gionson. 

Kaiser high school came short when it came to the top three best performing schools in the tournament. However, someone from Kaiser emerged a champion of some sort. Brandon Li, the twelfth grade chess champion, cemented himself as the best twelfth grade chess player in the state at that tournament.

When asked when how he started playing chess, Li said, “It all started during late quarantine time, roughly one and a half years ago, if it wasn’t for Chaz Tsang I would’ve never got into chess let alone join the chess club. And it feels unreal to be crowned a champion, it was all thanks to my friends, my family, and of course Chaz Tsang for getting me into the game. I wish to spread the joys of chess for more than a game, but a lifestyle.”

With such inspiring words, it’s amazing to see how much Li has accomplished even against other people in that tournament who’s had years of more experience than him, and yet still was able to emerge a champion, putting Kaiser on the radar in chess for the first time since 2020.

The 2023 K-12 Scholastic State Chess Champions

  • High School:  Mark Chen & Benjamin Kim (co-champions)
  • Middle School:  Koapaka Satterfield & Kyle Ching (co-champions)
  • Elementary School: Echae Kim
  • Primary School:  Alexander Bow-Smith 

The 2023 Team Chess Champions

  • High School Team:  Punahou School
  • Middle School Team:  Home School
  • Elementary School Team:  Punahou School
  • Primary School Team:  Pearl City Elementary School

The 2023 Grade Level Chess Champions

  • K: Alice Dmitriev
  • 1: Laguna Jabola-Ing
  • 2: Alexander Bow-Smith
  • 3: Echae Kim
  • 4: Ryden Yagi
  • 5: Tom Antin
  • 6: Koapaka Satterfield
  • 7: Jared Urbano & Spencer Pinho
  • 8: Kyle Ching
  • 9: Tyler Ching
  • 10: Mark Chen & Benjamin Kim
  • 11: Caleb White
  • 12: Brandon Li