Polgar: Dream comes true for 13-year-old chess phenom at tournament
Sunday, March 28, 2010
Story last updated at 3/28/2010 - 12:48 am
Last week 13-year-old Darwin Yang of Plano came to Texas Tech to pursue his dream at the prestigious 2010 SPICE Spring Chess Invitational, a 10-player round robin tournament.
Being the lowest seed in the tournament, Yang had to battle more experienced and higher rated competitors in pursuit of an international chess master norm.
In chess, grandmaster is the highest title, followed by international master. In order to become an international master, one typically has to achieve three international master norms and an international rating of 2400 and above. To become a grandmaster, one typically has to achieve three grandmaster norms, which is much more difficult than an international master norm, and a rating of 2500 and above.
There are more than 45 million chess players in the United States and more than 700 million worldwide. However, there are currently about 1,200 grandmasters worldwide, out of which only 21 are women. That is to illustrate how difficult it is to become a grandmaster.
The Texas Tech Knight Raiders chess team has three international masters, Gergely Antal, Davorin Kuljasevic and Gabor Papp. All three have ratings that exceed 2500, which is half of the requirement imposed by the world chess federation (FIDE). Two of them have two grandmaster norms while the third has one.
All three Knight Raiders fought valiantly for nine rounds. International master Gergely Antal was in contention the entire way. He had to beat grandmaster Jesse Kraai of California in the final round to earn his final grandmaster norm and title. At the end, he only managed to draw and therefore came up just short. He finished in second place with 5.5 points, a mere half point short for his final grandmaster norm. His two teammates tied for fifth and sixth with 4.5 points, 1.5 point shy of the grandmaster norm. I have no doubt that all three will eventually become grandmasters. But for now, it is back to the drawing board to prepare for the College Chess Final Four in Brownsville in two weeks.
Yang started out with a bang. He shocked the world by leading the tournament with three points after four rounds. He earned his first international master norm after only seven rounds. Unfortunately, he lost his final two games and had to settle for seventh place.
Grandmaster Julio Becerra of Miami won the 2010 SPICE Spring Chess Invitational with 6.5 points in nine games. He last competed in Lubbock in the 2008 SPICE Cup, where he finished a half point out of first. After the tournament, grandmaster Becerra told Matthew McGowan of The A-J the following: "If they invite me, I'll be here for sure," he said. "I love to be here." This is the greatest compliment for SPICE, Texas Tech and Lubbock.
Overall it was a very exciting tournament with high level of energy and fighting spirit. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed their time here and they cannot wait to have a chance to come back to compete in future battles. The chess games were broadcast live for chess enthusiasts around the world to follow. The tournament was covered by many global chess sources, including FIDE, which has more than 160 member nations and millions of readers.
Here are the winners:
1. Julio Becerra, g, USA, 2538, 61/2.
2-3. Gergely Angal, m, Hungary, 2511, 51/2.
2-3. Benjamin Finegold, m, USA, 2534, 51/2.
4. Dean Ippolito, m, USA, 2466, 5.
5-6. Davorin Kuljasevic, m, Croatia, 2552, 41/2.
5-6. Gabor Papp, m, Hungary, 2542, 41/2.
7. Darwin Yang, f, USA 2378, 4.
8. Irina Krush, m, USA, 2461, 31/2.
9-10. Jesse Kraai, g, USA, 2508, 3.
9-10. Eric Hansen, f, Canada, 2415, 3.
More than 460 pictures from the SPICE Spring Chess Invitational can be viewed here: http://picasaweb.google.com/SPICEChess/SPICESpringSelect.
As a tradition of all SPICE invitational events, I invited all players, SPICE groups and volunteers for a dinner celebration at my home after round eight.
One of the fun activities for the night was a chess quiz.
Here are some of the questions that were posed. How many can you answer? I will provide the answers next week.
1. When did William Steinitz become the first official world champion?
2. What is grandmaster Pal Benko's birth country?
3. What year did the Polgar sisters win their first Olympic Gold medal for Hungary?
4. Which country finished second at the 1966 Chess Olympiad?
5. Who won the men's individual gold on board 1 at the 1970 Chess Olympiad?
6. What was Bobby Fischer's highest chess rating?
7. In which country does world champion Vishy Anand have his second home?
8. What was Topalov's highest ever rating?
9. Who won the 1957 world championship match between Botvinnik and Smyslov?
10. What year did Kasparov lose his match against Deep Blue?
11. Who said "When you see a good move, look for a better one"?
12. Who said "I don't believe in psychology. I believe in good moves"?
13. Who said "It is not enough to be a good player... you must also play well"?
14. Who said "There are two types of sacrifices: correct ones and mine"?
15. Who said "Life is a kind of chess, with struggle, competition, good and ill events."?
16. Who said "Chess is a test of wills"?
17. Where was grandmaster Walter Browne born?
18. Who was England's first grandmaster?
19. Why are the Melody Amber events called as such?
20. Which currently married chess couple has the highest combined average rating?