BY Nubia Reyna | THE RIDER
Grandmaster Andrey Stukopin, a junior physics student from Russia, won first place among 83 players from 20 countries in the 2016 U.S. Chess Masters, a tournament that took place Aug. 25 to 29 in Greensboro, NC.
Three other members of the UTRGV Chess Team competed: Felix Ynojosa, who placed 24th; Guillermo Vazquez, 29th; and Carlos Hevia, 37th.
“There were many, many good players,” Coach Bartek Macieja said. “Andrey won a very strong tournament.”
The UTRGV Chess Team attends both national and Texas championships.
“The teams from Texas are always the strongest,” Macieja said. “Our players are in very, very good shape.”
The team consists of eight team members and two alternates. They divide the members between A and B teams, with four players in each one.
Stukopin said that even though he was feeling sick, he was enjoying the tournament and trying his best.
“Even though I was sick, it felt very nice [to be there],” he said in an interview with The Rider.
Stukopin defeated Grandmaster Gata Kamsky, a five-time U.S. champion.
“When I was a kid, he was already very famous,”Stukopin said. “Some chess players were saying, ‘Oh, you’re gonna play against a legend.’ … Everyone in the chess world knows who Gata Kamsky is.”
Stukopin said that he was not planning to win the game, just trying to show his best.
“After the realization [that I won the tournament] came to me, I felt excited,” he said.
The UTRGV Chess Team members are preparing for their next tournament, the Texas Super Finals Trophy, which will take place Oct. 21 in Dallas.
“Our classes just started,” Stukopin said. “We are analyzing openings, solving chess puzzles; we analyze everything together, it is a partnership.”