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Axel Gaetano wins kindergarten level state chess title

ANAHOLA — Axel Gaetano, of Anahola, became the kindergarten level state chess champion after winning his category at the 2024 Guy Ontai State K-12 Chess Championship, which took place at Washington Middle School on O‘ahu on April 20.

Anthony Miranda, writing for the Hawai‘i Chess Federation, said Gaetano got a break when Apollo Van Brunt from Kona elected to play up in the “much tougher section for Grades 3 to 5.

“In the end, Apollo tied for first with fifth grader Jasper Watanabe-Hiromasa with 4.5 points out of 5,” Miranda said. “But his Solkoff tiebreaks were slightly better, so Apollo is officially the Hawai‘i K-5 Champion who will represent our state at the Rockefeller Tournament of Elementary School Champions this summer.”

Chief Tournament Director Damian Nash said Gaetano only recently fell in love with the game, and the Ontai was his very first tournament.

“Axel defeated both of Punahou School’s highest-rated players, and also defeated Kilauea Elementary School’s highest-rated player,” said Nash, who is president of the Hawai‘i Chess Federation. “Apollo will get good competition from kindergarten champion Axel in future years.”

Kilauea School finished in second place in the primary (K-2) team standings with 11 points, just two points back of first place finishing Punahou, who posted 13 points. Pearl City Elementary settled for third place in the category with eight points.

“Hawai‘i has been blessed with a long history of extreme chess talents,” Nash said. “They welcome Apollo, Axel, and other rising stars to their club. We all look forward to some great games with them in the future.”
Source: The Garden Island

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