Tech chess champion fueled by competition
Updated: Tuesday, September 15, 2009
While children his age were learning 4th-grade science, one future Texas Tech student was traveling throughout Europe participating in chess competitions.
Chess has been part of Gergely Antal’s life since he was 4, and he began competing at age 8 or 9 in tournaments around Europe.
“My grandfather was the first to teach me the game,” said Antal, an international master of chess from Hungary. “My father, uncles and my sister play chess. It is like a chess family, but they are not serious chess players. They just play for fun.”
Antal said he likes to compete in chess tournaments rather than playing leisure games because he likes the feeling of being under pressure during a chess tournament.
Hal Karlsson, faculty adviser for Knight Raiders, said he thinks Antal is a strong player.
“I always thought he had potential when he came,” Karlsson said. “He played in our spring tournament and didn’t do so well, but I think it was jitters. He also won the Southwest Open. I think he has done extremely well this year.”
The Southwest Open was hosted in the DFW area and had 160 players in attendance. Antal won first place and took home the $1,500 prize.
“Usually, they rank people by their strength, and he was the fifth-highest-rated player,” Karlsson said. “He was not the highest-rated player, but won it.”
Antal is a talented player, Karlsson said, but he is not the only talented player at Tech.
Antal did not have competition from his own team last year because he was the only international master on the team. This year, Tech has acquired two other strong players who are international masters.
“We have three international masters, and all of them are quite strong,” Karlsson said. “They all just need one more grandmaster norm to become grandmaster.”
Davorin Kuljasevic, who won second place at the Southwest Open, said Antal’s international master status would be the equivalent to master’s degree in college, and a grandmaster would be the equivalent of a doctoral degree.
“He also has two grandmaster norms,” said Kuljasevic, an international master of chess, “which means he is very close to achieving his grandmaster title. He has a grandmaster strength, which makes him probably top 500 chess players in the world.”
Antal has achieved many accomplishments to be an international master, including his most recent victory in the 2009 World Chess Live Tournament of College Champions during the summer.
“It was a collegiate tournament in Indianapolis,” Antal said. “Universities sent their best students to the competition.”
Antal was the only student from Tech to attend the competition.
“I was the strongest player at that time,” Antal said.
Kuljasevic said the upcoming individual tournaments are scheduled Sept. 19 through Sept. 27 and will be hosted in the matador room in the Student Union Building.
The tournament is going to be difficult, Kuljasevic said, because talented international players will be competing. Grandmasters and chess players from different areas of the United States will also gather in the matador room to compete.
Despite all the talented players and tough competition, Kuljasevic said it is possible for Antal to achieve his goal of becoming a grandmaster.