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Valor Mexia wins chess tourney

There have been three community chess tournament on Kauai this year. What do they all have in common? Despite a different group of players at each event, there is one obvious answer: Kauai High School 10th-grader Valor Mexia won them all. With three wins against the tough Wailua Chess Club members and a draw against tournament veteran Chad Badgett in the final round, when the dust settled Mexia stood alone on top with 3.5 points out of four. Saturday’s victory gives him a record in 2019 of 11 tournament wins, 1 draw and 0 losses.

Fellow KHS 10th-grader Joe-Ansel Puplava finished in a second-place tie at 3-1, along with Owai Kaneali‘i and Benjamin Fernandez of the Wailua Chess Club. Ethan Pinnock won the medal for the best player under age 15 with a 2-2 finish.

After the awards ceremony, Tournament Director Damian Nash took on six of the top finishers simultaneously, giving them a chance to play the reigning state co-champion.

Playing with the black pieces, Valor Mexia lured Nash into the dubious “Fried Liver Gambit,” which Nash gleefully accepted. After a wild game, Nash’s deep experience with the line prevailed, handing Mexia his first and only loss of the year. Mexia had previously drawn Nash in a simultaneous exhibition game in February and again in a head-to-head encounter in April.

Nash went 6-0 in the exhibition after converting a small endgame advantage against Frank Ho‘oikaika from the Wailua Chess club.

For more information about weekly chess classes and chess tournaments at the Lihue Public Library, contact


The Garden Island
Source: The Garden Island

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