Saturday, March 19, 2011

Knight Raider Captain share first at SPICE Spring Invitational

Texas Tech Knight Raider Captain share first at SPICE Spring Invitational
Posted: March 19, 2011 - 5:25pm
By Susan Polgar

Darwin Yang, a 14 year old from Plano, and the number junior in Texas, earned his third and final International Master norm at 2011 SPICE Spring Chess Invitational after beating Harvard former number one player, International Master Marc Esserman, in an intense battle which lasted more than four hours in the eighth round.

This was a critical game as it was a must win situation for both players. Esserman needed to win in the final two rounds to secure a Grandmaster norm. Yang only needed to draw to earn his final International Master norm. But just like Esserman, he also had to win his final two games for his first Grandmaster norm.

The more experienced Esserman decided to go all out and literally threw the kitchen sink at Yang hoping to rattle the kid. However, the poised 14 year old with nerve of steel calmly defended his opponent’s attack and tricky tactics. At the end, the risky strategy by Esserman failed. Yang scored the full point to make history by earning his third and final International Master norm to become the youngest International Master in Texas Chess history.

Texas Tech and Lubbock definitely feel like second home for Wang as he always performs extremely well here. He earned his first two International Master norm at the 2010 SPICE Spring Invitational and 2010 SPICE Cup. As players compete all across the country and around the world, it is extremely rare to earn all the norms from the same place. But Yang earned all three norms right here in West Texas, on the campus of Texas Tech. His next goal is to become a Grandmaster, the highest designation in chess.

This is Naroditsky's first tournament at Texas Tech. His chess resume is impressive for an individual at such a young age. Not to be outdone by Yang, 15 year old International Master Daniel Naroditsky and number one junior in California, also performed spectacularly. Both were in contention for the SPICE title throughout the entire tournament.

Naroditsky shocked the chess world three years ago by winning the World Youth Championship as a heavy underdog. He earned a spot in the upcoming 2011 US Championship by finishing as the top American in the 2010 US Open. He will be by far the youngest participant in the field. In addition to being a chess phenom, he is also an accomplished chess author. He has written a number of articles in various chess publications. His first chess book, Master Positional Chess, was released last year to rave review. His next book will be published soon.

Both Yang and Naroditsky are top notch students in their respective schools. Yang also plays football for his school.

Going into the final round, three players were tied for the lead: Naroditsky, and Yang. There was no easy game and every battle lasted around four hours or longer. After the smokes were cleared, Kuljasevic and Naroditsky tied for first with Yang just half a point behind.
Kuljasevic is a graduate student at Texas Tech. He is also the Captain of the Knight Raiders A team. He played solidly throughout the entire tournament and was the only player who remained undefeated at the end.

Final round 9 results

Diamant 1-0 Yang
Esserman 1/2 Naroditsky
Altounian 1/2 Kuljasevic
Bykhovsky 1–0 Aleskerov
Sipos 1-0 Kleiman

All five members of the Texas Tech Knight Raiders A team took part in this prestigious event. In addition to bringing tremendous positive worldwide publicity to Texas Tech and Lubbock, the SPICE Spring Invitational also served as a valuable warm up for our players as they prepare to compete in the College Chess Final Four in Washington, DC in two weeks.

Final standings

(GM = Grandmaster, IM = International Master, FM = FIDE Master, SM = Senior Master)

1-2. GM Kuljasevic, IM Naroditsky 6.0 points
3. FM Yang 5.5 points
4-6. GM Bykhovsky, GM Diamant, IM Esserman 5.0 points
7-8. IM Altounian, IM Sipos 4.0 points
9. SM Aleskerov 2.5 points
10. IM Kleiman 2.0 points


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