The Polk Scholastic Chess Championship Tournament for season 2016-17 was conducted at Bartow Civic Center on March 11, 2017. This year, we had more than 580 students compete at our tournaments, from 59 Polk County schools, making us the largest scholastic chess tournament in USA. These young players from various ethnicities and backgrounds demonstrated fantastic chess skills, team spirit, sportsmanship and love of the game. Our Chief Guest for this grand finale, Ms. Trish Pfeiffer, Mayor, City of Bartow, congratulated all the players and encouraged them to do their best next year.


“We conclude our 2016-17 Scholastic Chess Season with a special note of thanks to the wonderful teachers and coaches from Polk County schools who have implanted the seeds of good character, ethics and academic progress”, said Mr. Malay Shah, President. To recognize such extraordinary contribution by the coaches, Polk Scholastic Chess awards the “Richard Lewis Lifetime Achievement Award” every year to a chess coach. This year, this award was given to coach Ms. Melissa Atkinson (Bethune Academy).


Click here for the TOURNAMENT RESULTS. Result highlights:

  1. DAVID SCHAAK (Bethune Academy)
  2. NICHOLAS HARRISON (McKeel Academy Central)
  3. DOMINICK HARRIS (Lincoln Avenue Academy)

  1. AJAY SONI (All Saints Academy)
  2. DEV PATEL (Lincoln Avenue Academy)
  3. ETHAN RODRIGUEZ (Bethune Academy)

  1. PRANAV GUNJALA (Lincoln Avenue Academy)
  2. ABRAHAM MEDINA (Brigham Academy)
  3. JAKOB DIAZ (Brigham Academy)

  1. NIRIHAM SHAH (Union Academy)
  2. BILLY ODOM (Crystal Lake Middle)
  3. JERIMIAH DECKER (Crystal Lake Middle)

  1. SHULAGRA SHAH (Bartow IB)
  2. NANDAN PATEL (Bartow IB)
  3. PIERCE MEYER (Independant Player)

We recognize two graduating seniors with scholarships towards their continuing education each year. These students need to have an extended length of participation with Polk Scholastic Chess, win our essay contest and must have made active contributions to their school and community. The two winners this year were Nandan Patel (first place) and Alexander Palmer (Second Place).


Simone GableWe were glad to have Ms. Simone Gable, last year's Polk Scholastic Chess scholarship winner, share her thoughts with us. Here is what she had to say: "Since starting school at Florida State University in Tallahassee, a multitude of opportunities have opened up for my future. I am a zoology major pursuing a Bachelor of Science and eventually a PhD in herpetology. I am in the Honors Program here at FSU and live in the Honors dormitory on campus. I applied and was accepted into the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) and have been working in the Travis Marine Biology Lab as an assistant, while also running my own project. My project is based on feeding behavior in a species of saltwater fish called Sailfin Molly.

I am also doing a Directed Individual Study (DIS) in the Rokyta Snake Venom Lab where various venomous snake species are housed, such as Timber Rattlesnakes, Hognose Snakes, and Pit Vipers. This lab studies the genetics of snake venom and compares them between variables like puberty and subspecies.

I cannot thank the chess community enough for awarding me this scholarship to help with my tuition, I miss everyone on the chess board and hope to visit soon!"




Polk Scholastic Chess (PSC) is a non-profit, 501(c)(3) organization dedicated for the past 29 years to encouraging academic growth through the game of chess. PSC organizes chess tournaments for all Polk County public schools and is supported by the Polk County School Board. Every year, around 600 kids participate in the tournaments from the entire Polk County, Pre-Kindergarten to 12th grade. All the board members are non-salaried volunteers.

Follow us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/polkchess

 Our special thanks to past Chief Guests who have graced our award ceremonies:

       Mr. Joel McGuire, Principal, Union Academy, Bartow
       Dr. Brenda Hardman, Principal, International Baccalaureate at Bartow High School
       Mr. John Miller III, Curriculum Specialist, Accelerated Programs at
                            Polk County School Board
       Mrs. Hazel Sellers, Polk County School Board Member
       Senator Kelli Stargel, Florida Senate, 22nd District
       Mr. Howard Wiggs, Mayor, City of Lakeland


Melissa Atkinson Bethuen Academy with Bartow Mayor Trish Pfeiffer








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