University of Texas at Dallas Invitational Begins
By Dr. Alexey Root, WIM   
December 18, 2010
IM Steven Zierk and Jerry Madden
In baseball, dignitaries throw ceremonial first pitches. In chess, they move white pawns or knights. At the Seventh Annual UTD Grandmaster Invitational (December 16-21), Texas State Representative Jerry Madden remarked that his ceremonial first moves have led to winning round one games. Not to be outdone, UTD Associate Provost Abby Kratz claimed that her first moves have also led to victories. Update: GM Dreev wins with 8/9. See full results on the UTD chess page.

Both Madden and Kratz faced daunting odds for their first moves this year. Madden moved 1. d4 for IM Steven Zierk, who had white against the top-rated player ever to participate in a UTD GM Invitational, GM Alexey Dreev. Tournament director Franc Guadalupe explained the excitement behind the round one pairing, "Zierk is the current World U18 Champion and our Denker Champion. Dreev has been rated over 2700 FIDE before (October 2003 - 2705, January 2005 - 2704, and April 2005 - 2705) and has been just outside the Top Ten in the world." Kratz moved 1. Nf3 for IM Julio Sadorra, a UTD sophomore playing white against UTD alumnus GM Magesh Panchanathan.

IM Sadorra, Abby Kratz and GM Magesh Panchanathan

Dreev prevailed over Zierk in an instructive game that showed how to play against an isolated queen pawn.


Sadorra won an upset victory with a nice tactic.


Panchanthan still had something to be happy about, though. Before Round One began, Panchanathan won the Richardson Cup by defeating FM Darwin Yang 1.5-.5 in a two-minute, two-game blitz match. After winning the first game as black, Panchanathan drew with white in the second game.

IM Steven Zierk with TD Franc Guadalupe watching FM Darwin Yang playing blitz
Fourteen-year-old Yang is trying for his third IM norm. Using FIDE ratings and rules, Guadalupe explained norm prospects, "Darwin is going to need 4.5 points for his IM norm (and six points for a GM norm). Norm requirements vary from player to player because the average rating of the opponents is not the same for all players. For example, the average rating of Yang's opponents is 2483 but for Hughes, our lowest-rated player (2267), the average is 2499.67 (since he does not play a 2267 as Yang does). The cut-off for needing 4.5 points is an average rating of opponents of 2492. Because of that, Hughes needs only 4.0 points for the IM norm."

Follow the results of the UTD GM Invitational at the Web site, which will be updated after each round and has a link to the games at the MonRoi Web site.

Read more about WIM Dr. Alexey Root at Root will also be reporting on this event for an upcoming issue of Chess Life Magazine.