Five Lead in WCL Tournament of College Champs
By Erik Patchell   
August 3, 2009
IM Jacek Stopa, one of the leaders after three rounds, Photo courtesy
The tournament of collegiate champions is back this year courtesy of World Chess Live , who graciously supplied the prize fund and offered the tournament to entrants at no entry fee.  The tournament has a solid 20 players this year and will hopefully continue to grow with each passing U.S. Open.  There is a wide breadth of colleges represented, ranging from the University of Utah, to Grinnell College, to the University of Oregon.  As word of this tournament continues to spread, we can hope there will be even more representation next year.

The University of Texas at Dallas showed up in force this year with a team consisting of IMs Stopa, Zivanic, and Bercys topping the rating list.  The University of Texas as Brownsville also brought a strong contingent of players with IM Daniel Fernandez leading the way.  Due to the fact that there was a large rating gap between these very strong players and the rest of the field, there was a large rating disparity in all of the first round games.  This led to a ‘perfect’ first round, with the higher rated player winning every game.

In the second round, however, there were a few surprises.  Arturo Gracia from University of Texas at Brownsville was able to draw teammate IM Fernandez and Benjamin Hutter from Grand Valley State was able to defeat Ethan Peake, rated more than 400 points above him.


As of the end of the third round, five players are tied for first, Stopa, Zivanic, and Bercys from UTD, Gergely Antal from Texas Tech University and Gracia from UTB, who continues to impress; following up on his draw against Fernandez, he defeated a slightly higher rated player in round three.  These players will be forced to go against each other in the upcoming rounds, so we can all look forward to some exciting chess.

I had the pleasure of receiving a free lesson from Bercys in the second round and was holding my own after some move order trickery in a gambit line of the Samisch King’s Indian.


Then, after some sloppy calculation on my part, I went in for 22. … Bxb2? instead of Bxc4, Qxc4, Bxb2 when Black can probably hold.  I completely missed 24.Qf6! and Bercys finished the game very nicely, taking advantage of the weak dark squares around my king.  I would like to note how gracious Bercys was in offering to go over the game with me afterwards.  It means a lot to lower rated players when IMs and the like take their time to discuss the game afterwards.

Stay tuned for more updates from Patchell as the WCL Tournament of College Champions concludes. Also see standings and live games on Monroi.