The 2021 US Chess Championship wrapped up on Monday, October 18 with two SLU students, Dariusz Swiercz and Thalia Cervantes, competing in the prestigious event. The duo, who are also members of the SLU chess team, both performed well against internationally ranked competitors. Åwiercz finished with a score of 5/11, winning 8th place, and Cervantes also finished with 5/11, winning 7th place.
The championship was played from October 8 to 20, with eleven rounds and two days off. Only one round was played per day, games often lasted several hours. The tournament was divided into a male and female section, with a fund of $ 150,000 for the male section and $ 100,000 for the female section.
The US Chess Championship is the oldest national chess tournament in the world, and the St. Louis Chess Club in the Central West End has hosted the tournament since 2009. It’s a tournament with a long history; American chess icon Bobby Fischer won it at age 14, the youngest champion of all time, and later entered history in 1963 with a perfect score of 11/11, a feat that didn’t has never been matched (although if it ever is, the champion will receive the Fischer Bonus Prize, a bonus of $ 64,000 on top of the first place cash prize).
Both players took a break from busy schedules and mid-sessions to compete in the championship. Dariusz Åwiercz is a Masters student in Applied Financial Economics from Poland. He received his BA in Economics from SLU in 2019. Åwiercz went on to become Grandmaster, the highest title a chess player can achieve, at the age of 14, and is currently ranked 102nd in the world. Cervantes is a freshman at SLU from Cuba who moved to the United States to pursue better chess opportunities. She specializes in sports affairs.
Both Åwiercz and Cervantes faced stiff competition in their respective sections. The men’s section seed was world number two Fabiano Caruana, who won the tournament in 2016 and was also the final challenger for Magnus Carlsen’s 2018 world title. World number six Wesley So, who won the tournament in 2017 and 2020, was the second highest ranked player in the championship section.
In the women’s section, Cervantes faced some of the world’s top ranked chess players, including eight-time American chess champion Irina Krush and two-time Nazi champion Paikidze. Eventual tournament winner Carissa Yip was seeded second in the tournament. Yip made history in 2019 when she became the youngest woman in U.S. history to win the International Masters title, the second-highest achievable in chess.
SLU chess coach Alejandro Ramirez, commenting on the strength of the peloton, said: âThis is the strongest national championship in the world, and it’s the best chess news for the two weeks. where it takes place. The women’s section is also very strong and is getting stronger and stronger thanks to a combination of international transfers and rising juniors: Thalia is one of them.
Before the tournament, Cervantes says she focused on playing well, regardless of the tournament outcome. âI was also one of the lowest ranked on the pitch so I took it as a test of my performance against these players. By joining SLU and being my first year, I have been very busy.
SLU chess coach Alejandro Ramirez said of Åwiercz and Cervantes: âThey are polar oppositesâ¦ Dariusz is the most experienced and strongest player on the team and has been The cornerstone of our team since our very first participation as a team at the 2016 Pan-American Intercontinental Chess Championships. Thalia, meanwhile, is our new recruit. Thalia has been one of the top juniors on the US tour and recently reached new heights in chess.
Halfway through the tournament, Ramirez assessed the respective performances of his players: âI think Dariusz is a little dissatisfied with his results. He was a bit unlucky, pressing for the advantage in many games but coming back empty-handed, “adding that” I’m sure he wants to score a few more wins before the tournament is over. ”
âThalia is the lowest rated player in the event, and despite that, she is currently tied for seventh place. Again, there are things to fix, but it’s a good rebound for her after a few tough tournaments before the champions, âadded Ramirez.
Despite several tough losses early in the tournament, Åwiercz performed well in the second half of the tournament, finishing with a score of 5/11, earning him eighth place in an incredibly talented field. Åwiercz ended the tournament with a victory over Lazaro Bruzon and a draw against Lenier Dominguez, two prominent Cuban players.
Cervantes also put in a strong performance overall, finishing in seventh place with a score of 5/11. Highlights of her tournament included a draw against tournament winner Carissa Yip, who is currently the third-largest chess player in the United States. Cervantes described his match against Yip as “aggressive and competitive”. Cervantes also won an exciting match against Sabina Francesca Foisor in the third round.
“I am proud of my victory against Sabina Foisor,” said Cervantes. “It was a hotly contested game and I ended up coming out on top.”
When asked to rate his tournament performance, Cervantes concluded: âIt was a great experience and overall a very solid score as I have played most of my matches. I could have done a lot better, but I’m happy with the result. I hope my performance in this event will only improve.