Liam Hereford, a student in the Calloway Home School association, poses with his championship trophy, having beaten all of his opponents at the Kentucky State Individual Chess Tournament, played Saturday and Sunday at the MSU Paducah campus. With this title, Liam qualified for a national tournament to be held in Norfolk, Va.

PADUCAH – Liam Hereford, a student in the Calloway Home Schools association, won the Kentucky State Individual Tournament championship Sunday in the K-8 division. That title qualifies him to take part in the Dewain Barber Tournament of K-8 Champions to be held July 20-Aug. 1 in Norfolk, Virginia.

Liam beat out a field of 26 players from across the state, scoring a perfect five points and outlasting Tamm Omar of East Oldham Middle School in the final round. 

This year’s state individual scholastic chess tournament was held Saturday and Sunday at the Murray State University Paducah campus, a rare change from having it in Louisville or Lexington. The tournament contained five divisions: K-1, K-3, K-5, K-8 and K-12. The numbers indicate the highest grade that a player can be in to take part in that division.

“I think I played pretty well,” Liam said of his title performance. “I got into a tough position in the last game, and I was able to pull it out. I (opened) with f4 (Pawn to King Bishop 4), and it transposed into a Stonewall. I just tried my hardest.”

Liam had a U.S. Chess Federation rating of 1570 going into the tournament, the third-highest in the K-8 division. Tamm had a rating of 1584, while Connor Zhang of Winburn Middle School of Lexington, who finished in sixth place, had the highest rating at 1608.

Liam's sister, Marianna, also a Calloway Home Schools student, placed 17th in the K-8 division with two points.

Liam took seventh place in last year’s state individual tournament, while his brother, Josiah, won the K-12 division.

Landon Ulrich of Murray Middle School placed ninth in the K-5 division with 3.5 points. He was the only other student from a Murray or Calloway County school to place in the top 10 of any division.

Other area students taking part in the state tournament, and their result and point total in the five-round tournament, were:

•K-5 division: 13. Owen Riddle, 3.0 points; 14. Preston Key, 3.0; 18. Cooper Allen, 2.0; 29. Jackson Kimbro, 1.0; 30. Maddox Robinson, 1.0; 31. Aiden Collins, 1.0; 32. Joey Civitella, 1.0. All students are from Murray Middle School. Owen Riddle and Preston Key tied for 10th, but were ranked based on the tie-breaking system in place.

•K-3 division: 14. Aiden Lovett, 3.0; 15. Thomas Bucy, 3.0; 17. Ali Yarali, 3.0; 19. Myles Barnett, 3.0; 20. Alex Sharp, 3.0; 21. Josephine Earls, 3.0; 24. Will Burkeen, 2.0; 25. Dwinata Marjadi, 2.0; 28. Nate Dyer, 2.0; 34. Lillian Leitch, 2.0; 39. Frank Civitella, 1.0. All students are from Murray Elementary School. The first six players listed tied for ninth place, but were ranked by the tie-breaking system in place.

Quad A region coordinator Tom Knight directed the tournament, and said there were more than 150 players in the tournament. 

“It is amazingly huge that we’ve been able to have (the state tournament) here,” he said. “Due to the growth that this end of the state has had (in scholastic chess) in the last three years alone, it warranted it. … We’ve doubled in sixe since three years ago, and having this kind of a draw for a state event like this – half of the entries were from out of this region (which comprises most of western Kentucky as far east as Bowling Green).”

Knight praised Josiah Hereford for coming to the tournament and being a tournament director for the K-5 division.

“That’s really cool,” Knight said. “You win one, then you come back and you help out with the next one. I think that’s kind of neat.”

The 2017 state team tournament will take place March 18 at North Bullitt High School in Shepherdsville. Area teams from the Quad A region that qualified for the state team tournament were Murray Elementary School (K-3 division), Calloway Home Schools and Murray Middle School (both in the K-8 division). 

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