UTRGV ‘GM-norm’ International Chess Tournament a big success

UTRGV student Grandmaster Holden Hernandez on the final day of the International Chess Tournament held on the Brownsville Campus. (UTRGV Photo by David Pike)

Click for tournament photo gallery

BROWNSVILLE, TEXAS – JANUARY 11, 2016 – The first GM-norm International Chess Tournament hosted by The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, begun on Tuesday, Jan. 5, ended after the final round on Sunday, Jan. 10.

The final tournament standings reported to the United States Chess Federation (USCF):
IM-norm table
GM-norm table

“Our team members were excited about having this event on campus, because this gives them the opportunity to play in GM/IM norm tournaments, which are hard to find in the United States,” said Senior Program Coordinator Alfonso Almeida. “And a big congratulations to Andrey Gorovets (Belarus) for achieving his GM-norm.”

World Chess Federation (FIDE) “norm” tournaments are designed for players to match their abilities against more highly-ranked players in order to obtain norms for international titles. The highest title in chess is grandmaster (GM), followed by international master (IM) and FIDE master (FM).

“As the tournament sponsor, we have invited a few internationally titled players to create strong competition, benefitting some of the UTRGV players as well as those who have come in from out of town,” said Coach Bartek Macieja.

FIDE Arbiter Korey Kormick oversaw the tournament, with 20 participants including four grandmasters and six international masters hailing from nine countries – Belarus, Canada, Cuba, Georgia, Hungary, Mexico, Poland, Russia and the United States.

Most of the competitors were members of university teams, including The University of Texas at Dallas, Texas Tech University and Yale University.

Two young competitors included 13-year-old WIM (Women International Master) Akshita Gorti, who traveled from Virginia with her mother, and IM Awonder Liang, 12, who came with his father, Will Liang, from Madison, Wisc.

Liang, a two-time world champion in his age group, and the second-youngest international master in history, began playing chess at the age of five.

“People all over the word are watching this university,” said Will Liang, remarking on the growth and increased status of the UTRGV Chess Program.

Coach Bartek, a grandmaster and world-renown chess player who became coach in December 2012, confirmed Liang’s comment.

“International coverage has grown tremendously as we have rebuilt the UTRGV team over the past three years,” Macieja said. “We have worked hard to develop existing players and recruit new players, resulting in our strongest team ever, with three international masters and four grandmasters, after the addition of GM Carlos Hevia from Cuba this semester.

Two UTRGV grandmasters who played in the GM-norm tournament ware Andrey Stukopin and Holden Hernandez, who helped propel the team to second place in the 2015 Pan-Am Intercollegiate Chess Championship, held Dec. 27-30 in Cleveland, Ohio.

The Pan Am Intercollegiate Chess Championship resulted in the Final Four rankings: Texas Tech University, UTRGV, Webster University and Columbia University.

The Final Four, officially the prestigious President’s Cup, will take place April 1-3, 2016, at the New York Athletic Club in New York City.

“This team has a great future,” Macieja said. “I am optimistic as we prepare for the Final Four in April. Webster University is the favorite. They outnumber us in grandmasters, but we now have our four, so we will be competitive.”

For more information, contact Bartek Macieja at bartek.macieja@utrgv.edu or Alfonso Almeida at alfonso.almeida@utrgv.edu or call (956) 882-7561 or (956) 882-7562.

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