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Fifth grader places second at national chess tourney

Aerial view of Kuhlman stadium with water tower in foreground.

What started with an after school activity has grown into a passion for a Cornelia fifth grader, and a successful one at that. Marshall Tsai recently earned a very large trophy at a national chess tournament.

Playing chess has been one of Marshall’s interests since he first learned to play in second grade. He signed up for Chess with Russ, a staple after-school activity at Edina elementary schools, led by Russ Erickson through Community Education’s youth programming. By fourth grade, he was competing in School Chess Association tournaments. This year, his mother Michaela said, “it has become a true passion.”

Marshall plays in weekly tournaments at The Chess Castle in Minneapolis, attends summer chess camps and plays daily in online tournaments with players from across the world. “He loves the strategy,” said his mother. “After a game, he likes to analyze what went well and where he could have made better choices.”

“After a school day and piano, cello and soccer, chess helps me relax,” Marshall said.

Marshall placed second in the K-6 Under 1000 section at the U.S. Chess Elementary School National Tournament in Nashville, Tenn., May 11-13. He won his first six games and lost an epic two hour and 15 minute match in the championship round.

Next, Marshall will travel to Chicago for a tournament over Memorial Day weekend. He will attend School Chess Association summer camp for three or four weeks and hopes there will be enough interest among students to have a chess team at South View Middle School next year.