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Chess champ, 7, dedicates win to Maui fire survivors

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COURTESY PHOTO

Laguna Jabola-Ing, 7, a second-grader from Ewa Elementary School, on Saturday won the 2024 Hawaii K-12 Scholastic Chess Championship's K-2 division.

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COURTESY HAWAII CHESS FEDERATION

Above, Josh Lewis, standing, contemplates the position in his game against defending state high school champion Mark Chen.

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COURTESY PHOTO

Laguna Jabola- Ing, 7, a second grader from Ewa Elementary School, on Saturday won the 2024 Hawaii K-12 Scholastic Chess Championship's K-2 division.

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Laguna Jabola-Ing, a second grader from Ewa Elementary School, won his primary school division of the 2024 Guy Ontai State K-12 Scholastic Chess Championship tournament over the weekend.

The annual state championship tournament hosted by the nonprofit Hawaii Chess Federation was held Saturday at Washington Middle School, with more than 160 chess players from kindergarten to 12th grade participating. Students competed as individuals as well as school teams.

Laguna, 7, emerged victorious with four wins, zero losses and one draw in the kindergarten to second grade division.

At the awards ceremony, Laguna held up a Lahaina Strong T-shirt and dedicated his win to Maui fire survivors.

Laguna has family on Maui, including a grandmother and great-grandmother, so he feels connect­ed to the island, according to mother, Khara Jabola-Carolus.

He was the only West Oahu public school student from Ewa in the competition, according to his family.

A few other primary school students competing in the K-2 division were from Manoa, Pearl City and Kilauea elementary schools, among others. Some students were also home-schooled.

A kindergartener from Kona, Apollo Van Brunt, chose to play in the grades 3-5 division and will represent the state at the John D. Rockefeller III National Tournament of Elementary School State Champions this summer.

Teams representing Punahou School, 'Iolani School and Hawaii Baptist Academy, among others, also competed.

Laguna proudly wore his "Straight Out of Ewa" school T-shirt to the tournament, and gave a nod to his school and his "West Side" community during his victory speech.

The second grader fell in love with chess after playing konane, a traditional Hawaiian board game, at an after-school program. He got a chess set about a year ago, and continues to love the game.

He said he hopes to one day start a chess club at his school.

"Some of the grown-ups at our school assume kids out here aren't interested, but I think they are wrong," he said. "They just need to give us a chance and some of the attention that private school kids enjoy, then we will fly."

The mission of the Hawaii Chess Federation is to enable its members to play the game of chess through the sponsorship of tournaments, matches and other chess events, as well as to advocate and teach chess to enhance thinking skills.

Another chess tournament is scheduled on May 25. Visit or to learn more.

RESULTS

Individual winners in the 2024 Guy Ontai State K-12 Scholastic Chess Championship tournament:

Primary K-2

>> 1st place. Laguna Jabola-Ing, 4.5 points

>> 2nd place. Garen Zhang, 4 points

Elementary 3-5

>> 1st. Apollo Van Brunt, 4.5 points (Rockefeller Representative)

>> 2nd. Jasper Watanabe-Hiromasa, 4.5 points

Middle School 6-8

>> 1st. Kevin Ching, 5 points (2024 Barber Tournament Representative)

>> 2nd. Aurelia White, 4.5 points

High School, 9-12

>> 1st. Mark Chen 4.5 points (2024 Denker Tournament Representative)

>> 2nd. Kyle Ching, 4 points

Source: Hawaii Chess Federation