Setting a record for attendance, 116 players competed in the 70th Alabama State Chess Championship on Sept. 1-3 at Trash Panda Stadium in Town Madison. CONTRIBUTED

MCCL rates at state tourney; Bartlett joins US Chess staff

MADISON – Madison City Chess League or MCCL proudly presented the Alabama State Chess Championship this year in Madison.

“Hosting the State Chess Championship in Madison was a first. The 116 players who showed up to compete made this a record turnout,” MCCL Marketing and Communications Manager Nicole Wall said. The meet was held Sept. 1-3 at Trash Panda Stadium in Town Madison.

“The SportsMed Stadium Club made for a beautiful venue, and the Trash Pandas staff was fantastic. State Representative Phillip Rigsby, one of our sponsors, welcomed everyone to Madison and presented us with a certificate in recognition of the 70th annual championship,” Wall said.

In the Amateur Section, players’ ratings must be under 1,200. Sophia Jerez of Journey Middle School finished first with 5.5 out of 6 points. Landon Drummond of Bob Jones High School finished sixth with 4.5 points. Nathan Chiu, also of Bob Jones, tied for eighth place with 4 points.

MCCL members represented the league well in the Amateur section:

* Bob Jones — Aaron Chen, Caroline Wang, Sean Rowe and Rachael Ehrman.

* James Clemens High School — Oviya Gowder.

* Discovery Middle School — Cohen Tate, Noah Hsu, Arush Sharma, Christina Yang, Margaret Lin, John Chen, Abigail Barbre and Shiloh Stringer.

* Liberty Middle School — Anna Ai and Andrew Tkach.

* Journey — Jackson Moore.

* Horizon Elementary School — Kylie Zou, Alice Zou and Samuel Ellis.

* Rainbow Elementary School — Asher Allison and Annabelle Hsu.

* Madison Elementary School — Samuel Liao.

* Heritage Elementary School — Ibrahim Khan.

* Mill Creek Elementary School — Gopika Baipu.

* Andrew Hinckley, Patrick Piper, Jimmy McHugh, Robert Barbre, Sam Harrison and Vincent Grenon.

In the Reserve Section, players were rated below 1,600. Jacob New of Bob Jones finished third with 4.5 points. Esteban Jerez from Horizon, this section’s youngest player, finished in fourth place with 4 points. Aadi Saxena of Bob Jones tied for fourth place at 4 points. Andrew Yang, Nirvana Rajbhandari, Artem Starenki and Eddie Xiao of Bob Jones also competed in this section.

The Premier Section proved to have challenging games:

* Bob Jones — Xavier Bruni finished seventh with 4 points. His only loss was with co-champion Zachary Snow. Bruni finished a half-point behind four players who tied for first place, including two National Masters and one International Master. Bruni tied with National Master Scott Varagona, multiple winner of this championship; Bruni finished ahead of other past champions.

* Joel Friedman, coach for Journey Middle School and Madison Elementary School, and Bob Jones alumnus Victor Lundy tied for tenth place with 3.5 points.

* Bob Jones — Steven Pan with 2.5 points.

Zachary Snow and Matthew Puckett earned the title of Alabama State Chess Co-Champion.

In other news, Ranae Bartlett has accepted the position of Director of Operations with US Chess.

In 2013, Bartlett founded Madison City Chess League as a nonprofit chess program. Madison City Schools now has more than 5,000 students participating in school chess clubs. Since 2020, she has served as Education Director at

As a US Chess volunteer, Bartlett served as a delegate to the 2023 Annual Meeting and co-chaired the 2022 Chess in Education Committee. Recently, Bartlett traveled to St. Louis, Mo. for her first week at US Chess.

In civic work, Bartlett served on Madison Board of Education for 10 years. Currently, she represents District 5 on Madison City Council. Before living in Madison, she worked as Assistant General Counsel for a Fortune 500 company.

US Chess, a 501(c)3 organization, has an educational mission to “empower people, enrich lives and enhance communities through chess.” (

In addition, MCCL members voted for local candidates for Alabama Chess Federation Board positions. Madison representatives are Membership Vice President Adam Epling, Public Relations Vice President Sarah May and Scholastic Vice President Todd Guthrie.

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