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Fifth-grader makes right moves

Avril Gauthier places first in national chess tournament

A Forest Grove girl rose to the top in her division over the weekend during the U.S. Chess Federation’s 2014 national championship tournament in Dallas, Texas.

Avril Gauthier, a fifth-grader at Valley Catholic Elementary School in Beaverton, took first place in the K-5 Under 900 division when all the points were added up Sunday.

“Her trophy is over 4 feet tall,” said her dad, Joe Gauthier, who accompanied Avril to Dallas last Wednesday and returned home Monday.

Another Valley Catholic Elementary student, Nikhil Samudrala, took ninth place in the same division. The two were among 2,200 competitors from across the country who played individual matches that took up to four hours each — quite a bit of rigor for grade schoolers.

“They’re kind of like athletes,” said Joe Gauthier. “You have to make sure they eat right and get enough rest and relaxation so they can concentrate.”

Between Friday morning and Sunday evening, Avril played seven matches against students in a pool of 277 in the K-5 Under 900 division.

Avril began learning chess with the Oregon Scholastic Chess Federation (oscf.org) several years ago. Her mother is Molly Saunders Gauthier of Forest Grove.

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