Gareyev and Sadorra Win U.S. Class
By Franc Guadalupe   
October 6, 2011
Like last year’s edition of the U.S. Class, this year’s event took place at the beautiful facilities of the Hilton Hobby Airport Hotel and, once again, was a tremendous success.   The hot Houston temperatures gave way to a cooler and pleasant weekend, but the competition inside the hotel was still heated.

As typical in a five-round event, Round 4 had some key and interesting matches.  In that crucial round, China’s IM Wen Liang Li, playing in only his second USCF event and first since the 2005 HB Global, was paired against the top seed, GM Timur Gareyev, a student at the University of Texas at Brownsville (UTB). 

GM Sadorra
On Board 2, the second seed, GM Axel Bachmann also from UTB was matched against this year’s Southwest Champion GM Julio Sadorra, a student at University of Texas at Dallas (UTD).  On Board 3, IM Milos Pavlovic (UTD) was paired against the U.S. Class defending Champion, GM Mauricio Flores (UTB).   Board 4 had the battle of UTB teammates IM Max Cornejo and IM Alfonso Almeida.  These four games ended in hard-fought draws. On Board 5, Artur Safin, with two wins in his first three games, including an upset victory against his UTD teammate IM Sal Bercys, won against Kevin Cao. 

GM Timur Gareyev
This set up the final round pairings of Gareyev vs. Pavlovic, Li vs. Bachmann, Flores vs. Cornejo, and Sadorra vs. Safin.  The games on Boards 2 and 3 ended in draws but Gareyev and Sadorra emerged victorious and split the first ($1300) and second ($650) place prizes, each earning $975 for their efforts.  

Safin, in spite of losing in the last round, and Cao who won his last game against fast-improving 11-year old Jonathan Chiang, shared the first and second U2400 prizes, good enough for $300 each.   Jonathan’s consolation and, at the same time, heartbreak was that his rating improved to just two points shy of the Master level, at 2198!
A total of 243 participants entered the main event, including four GMs, seven IMs, two WGMs, and four FMs, making this event one of the strongest and biggest U.S. Class Championships ever.  Although many of the players paid the reduced rate which was available to Juniors in Class C and D, and all Class E and Unrated players, we surpassed the Prize Fund “based-on” attendance of 200 full-paid entries.  As result, the paid prizes were increased from the advertised $11,000 to $12,000.  Needless to say, this met the approval of the players!

The Class Champions were:

Master – Grandmasters Timur Gareyev and Julio Sadorra, 4-1
Expert – Austin Jiang, 5-0
Class A – Daniel Ng, 5-0
Class B – Angelito Abella, 5-0
Class C – Brian Shicoff and Ben Karren, 4 ½ - ½  
Class D – Cindy Nam, 5-0
Class E – Antonio Pereria and Adrian Patterson, 4 ½ - ½
Unrated – Alexandrov Olzhas, 5-0

In addition to the main event, we had a scholastic tournament which was also well attended, with 123 students.  The winners in that event were:

K-12 – Brian Chau, 4 ½ - ½
K-9 – Zoheb Hirani, 4 ½ - ½
K-6 – Jackie Sun, 5-0
K-3 – Jacob Buergler and Zachary Guo, 4 ½ - ½

Many of the players stuck around late Saturday night, after the third round, for the always-fun Blitz tournament.  In that side event, top seed IM Conrad Holt rolled over the competition in the Open Section, winning it with a perfect 8-0.  The U1800 was won by Ben Karren with a 7-1 record.  

Many of the games were transmitted live, and are still available, on  This writer organized and directed the event.  Forrest Marler and Thomas Boone assisted on the floor and Luis Salinas, President of the Dallas Chess Club and Assistant Chess Program Director of UTD, took care of the Monroi transmission. For rated results, please see the USCF MSA page.