Fresh off its second-place showing at the 2015 Pan American Intercollegiate Chess Championship, the UTRGV chess program hosted a tournament for grandmaster and international norms the week of Jan. 5.
“There are several goals,” Chess Coach Bartlomiej “Bartek” Macieja said. “One of them is to allow our players to meet strong opponents and to train. Second, is to gather here talented American players so maybe they can join our program.”
The UTRGV Chess Team qualified for the Final Four of Chess, formally known as the President’s Cup, at the Pan Am tournament, tying for first and placing second after the consideration of judges of the tie-break points. The President’s Cup determines the college chess team champion.
“I am really proud of my students and we qualified to the final tournament, which is called Final Four, which will take place in April in New York City,” Macieja said. “[The Pan Am] tournament also serves as the first training tournament preparation for the event. Apart from that, we will have a normal schedule, which means trainings and training tournaments as well.”
In the GM-norm International Chess Tournament, hosted by UTRGV, participants from Belarus, Canada, Cuba, Georgia, Hungary, Mexico, Poland, Russia and the United States competed. Among them were four grandmasters and six international masters.
Grandmaster (GM) is the highest title in chess, followed by International Master (IM) and FIDE Master (FM).
Women IM Akshita Gorti, 13, of Virginia, and FM Awonder Liang, a 12-year-old prodigy from Wisconsin, competed in the tournament.
Liang won the 2013 World Youth Chess Championship, becoming the youngest American to qualify for the title of International Master.
Liang encourages students who are interested in chess to play as much as possible.
“Work on the game,” he said.“[Students] have to really kind of have a lot of determination for the game and they shouldn’t really give up.”Liang’s father said the tournament was well organized.
“The university provided a great opportunity for kids, like my son, and other norm seekers,” Will Liang said. “It’s a beautiful thing to do.”
Twenty players participated in the two tournaments. Nine rounds were played during the week of Jan. 5.
The final tournament standings reported to the U.S. Chess Federation are as follows: IM Zurab Javakhadze of Texas won first place in the IM-norm table; GM David Bercezes, also of Texas, placed second; and IM Roberto Martin del Campo, of Mexico City, finished third.
In first place for the GM-norm table was IM Andrey Gorovets, of Texas; second place, GM and UTRGV student
Andrey Stukopin; and third, IM Daniel Gurevich, of Georgia.
Liang placed ninth in the GM-norm table.
“The organization here has done a phenomenal job of providing excellent conditions for the players,” said Korey Kormick, the tournament’s sanction arbiter. “It’s like any other qualified discipline, lot of practice, lot of time
going against stronger competition.”