Scholastic Chess of Indiana

Indiana Teen Leads Team to U.S. Amateur North 1st Place Finish

Indiana scholastic chess had another great performance in a high-level tournament as Culver Academy 9th grader Aydin Turgut led his team to a first place finish at the 2019 U.S. Amateur North tournament (held in Schaumburg, IL on February 15-17). Aydin’s team (“Liquid Knightrogen”) finished in a three-way tie for first place with 4.5/5 points, taking first on tiebreaks.

The U.S. Amateur North is an annual team tournament in which the average rating of the team must be below 2200 to compete. The top teams

Team Liquid Knightrogen (Aydin on far left)

usually come very close to this line, with a couple players above 2200 and the lowest player around 2000. The competition on board one can be particularly strong, with a couple of grandmasters and international masters playing this year.


Aydin entered the tournament with a rating of 2283 and played on board one alongside the three other teenagers on his team: Arshaq Saleem (2268 from Iowa), Rithwik Marhur (2249 from Wisconsin), and Benjamin Shoykhet (1985 from Missouri). As one might expect, Aydin’s competition throughout the tournament was extremely strong. He opened up with wins against three expert-level players before two draws against a 2500+ rated opponent in round four and a national master in round five. His strong play gave him an increase of 18 rating points, ending the tournament with an impressive 2301 rating!

His round four game against 2532 rated Mike Brattain was particularly interesting. Here is the game with Aydin’s own annotations:

Aydin (left) on board 1


This tournament win is just the latest in a long line of chess accomplishments for Aydin. Currently ranked 7th among 14-year olds in the U.S., he finished first place in the 2011 National Chess K-1 Championship, the 2013 K-3 Championship, and the 2014 K-5 Championship, and he had runner-up finishes in a number of other years. He has also represented the United States in the World Youth Chess Championships seven of the last eight years.


There were a number of other Indiana players who participated in the tournament, including the all-Indiana team of John Cole (rated 2397), Les Kistler (2019), Aidan Kaczanowski (2009), and Mat Leach (1959). Their team finished with three points, with Penn High School 12th Grader Kaczanowski leading the group with a 4/5 score on board three. Canterbury School chess coach and former Indiana State Champion Jim Dean scored 3.5/5 on board one for his team as well.


This is the second post in what we hope will be a regular series of stories celebrating the accomplishments of Indiana scholastic chess players. We’ll focus mainly on major events outside of the state, but I’m sure we’ll find some in-state successes to celebrate as well. If you have a story you would like to share, please contact Todd Walatka at
Thank you to Aydin’s father, FM Tansel Turgut, for some of the background for this story.

1 Comment

  1. Ben Bentrup on March 10, 2019 at 4:25 pm

    Thanks for preserving these memories for the site, Todd. Excellent write up!

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