Carson Middle School student ranked No. 1 by U.S. Chess Federation
For the third consecutive year, North Allegheny sixth grader Evan Park will compete in an international chess tournament.
Park, 11, of McCandless qualified for the World Cadet championship Aug. 20 through Sept. 2 in China in the Open U12 division.
Park, who ranked first in April among Top Age 11 players by the U.S. Chess Federation (2239), advanced by achieving the highest rating in his age and gender category according to the federation’s February rating supplement.
Grandmaster Alexander Shabalov, Park’s instructor for the past three years, expects Park to be a darkhorse.
“Every year of development at this age is crucial,” said Shabalov, a resident of Pittsburgh’s Squirrel Hill neighborhood. “Our goals will be to gain necessary experience to become a contender in two years, plus to get rating points along the way.
“Compared to (the) best guys at the tournament, Evan’s experience will be very limited.”
Park placed 24th in Open U10 in the 2017 championship in Brazil, and 51st in U12 Open in the 2018 tournament in Spain.
A U.S. Chess National Master, Park hopes to achieve the title of World Chess Federation International Master. He will need a minimum rating of 2400.
Park, a member of the 2019 U.S. Chess All-America team in Age 10, was proud to make National Master. The title, which is awarded to any player reaching 2200, is held by less than one percent of rated players, according to U.S. Chess.
“Evan’s breaking the rating barrier to become a National Master is a great achievement at this age,” Shabalov said. “It is much more important for me to see that he got the foundation to become a Grandmaster one day.”
Grandmaster, the highest title, requires a 2500 and is awarded by World Chess.
Park (2177) took first place in the National Chess Congress Under 2200 Section last November in Philadelphia. He was first in the Pennsylvania State Scholastic Championships in the K to 8 Open in March in Gettysburg (2199).
As a state champion, he has been invited to the Barber Tournament of K-8 Champions Aug. 3-6 in Orlando, Fla. He will compete in the National Elementary (K-6) Championship May 10 to 12 in Nashville, Tenn.
Park said his goals are to enjoy every tournament and do his best.
He said he has fun talking with Shabalov, and that his former coaches, National Masters Franklin Chen and Qibiao Wang, encourage him.
His parents, Yongseok Park and Airong Luo, pay for and travel with him to tournaments.
He said his sister, Eleanor, 14, also deserves credit.
“I have to take one of our parents away from her when I travel for tournaments,” he said.
Karen Kadilak is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.