In Dallas, A Rocky Start, a “Rocky” Finish
By Dr. WIM Alexey Root   
November 30, 2009
GM Alejandro Ramirez facing IM Daniel Ludwig. Continue reading to find out who gave Ramirez roses.

The University of Texas at Dallas (UTD) GM and IM norm invitational tournaments had a rocky start. GM Amon Simutowe forfeited round 3. By the end of round 5, nine games had been postponed due to students’ classes and exams. There were several short draws.

Coach Rade
Steps in

UTD Chess Coach IM Rade Milovanovic rescheduled missed games and changed perceptions. Milovanovic explained that Simutowe didn’t mean to forfeit round three. Milovanovic said Amon had a communication problem with Chief Arbiter Jon Haskel and with his opponent, GM Zviad Izoria. But this problem could be solved. Izoria, Rade told me, was known for his modesty. During one round of the 2007 UTD GM Invitational, Izoria didn’t want to inconvenience anyone by asking for a ride so he walked for miles from his hotel to the playing site. On Wednesday night Rade predicted that Izoria would play Amon rather than keep his forfeit win. That prediction came true on Thanksgiving, immediately after round 6, when Izoria drew Simutowe in 13 moves.

Coach Milovanovic expected a large number of draws in the GM-norm section for two reasons. First, players could score six draws and three wins to earn a GM norm (6 points out of 9). Second, the players in the GM-norm section were very close in rating. Therefore, they had to play carefully against each other. The winners of the GM section were Izoria and GM Giorgi Kacheishvili, each with 6 points out of 9. Both players are originally from Georgia but now live in the US.

Kacheishvili had an instructive endgame win in the last round over IM Sal Bercys, using a Lucena position to win the K, R, and Ps against K, R, and Ps endgame.


 As Bercys said, "I resigned because he's a GM. He knows how to build a bridge."

Roses for Ramirez

As the tournament entered its last three rounds, NM Tautvydas Vedrickas, IM Puchen Wang, FM Daniel Yeager, and WFM Bayaraa Zorigt were still in the norm hunt. The games became longer and more closely contested and the spectators showed their appreciation.
UTB’s GM Gareyev with Mohammed Nasim, a student in my Chess Online ED 4358 course

GM Timur Gareyev (a student at The University of Texas at Brownsville and Texas Southmost College) gave roses to the players and to Coach Rade. UTD Team Captain Alejandro Ramirez ended up with the lion’s share of the roses. Ramirez brought in the Sunday, November 29, 2009, Dallas Morning News. The chess team’s recent trip to Cuba was front page news! All the players and staff were very excited to read the article.

Bayaraa Zorigt, Sal Bercys, and Alejandro Ramirez check out the Dallas Morning News front-page article

Fighting Spirit

The IM-norm section had more fighting spirit. The winner of the IM section was NM Tautvydas Vedrickas with 6 points out of 9. Vedrickas's rating now goes over 2300 FIDE, so he can apply for his FM title. WFM Bayaraa Zorigt made the only norm of the event, by scoring 5 points and gaining a WIM norm.


TD Jon Haskel awards Bayaara Zorigt her WIM norm certificate while IM Puchen Wang looks on

Bayaraa also scored 5 of 9 at last year’s UTD norm event, one point above what is required for a WIM norm, but the 2008 IM-norm section was one titled player short. That meant no norm last year. So this year’s norm was her first ever. I asked Bayaraa to strike a pose from the movie Rocky. She hadn’t heard of the movie, so IM Julio Sadorra showed her how it’s done.

IM Julio Sadorra is a fan of the movie, Rocky

Despite a rough tournament, UTD freshman Sadorra also kept punching until the end, winning his last round against GM Amon Simutowe.


Find complete game collection from the tournament on Monroi and see final crosstables on the tournament website. Also see WIM Alexey Root's first CLO article on the tournament.

Dr. Alexey Root, WIM is the author of Children and Chess: A Guide for Educators. Her blog is on the MonRoi site. Root is also teaching a series of online classes in Chess Education. Registration for Spring 2010 classes is now open.