Grandmaster Xiong, 15 years old, Wins Southwest Class


Jeffrey Xiong at the 2015 US Junior Closed Championship, Photo Saint Louis Chess Club

While much of the country was occupied with Amateur Team Championships, Continental Chess Association held a norm event and Grand Prix tournament in Dallas, Texas from February 11-15th.  Several articles noted how the Amateur Team East had record cold temperatures.  In Dallas, we did not have this problem as it was sunny and 70 most days.  Interestingly, the Amateur tournament had 13 GMs while our Professional event had only six!  It is certainly a testament to the Amateur Team East that they had more GMs and had nearly as many teams as we had players!

This was the largest Southwest Class with 325 players and a $30,000 guaranteed prize fund.  The Master section was quite strong with six GMs headlining the 61 player Master section field.  Eight IMs, Twelve FMs, Two WIMs, and two WFMs and a host of other FIDE rated players came in search of norms and prizes.  There were eleven foreign players representing  eleven different federations.  This made it challenging to meet the FIDE requirements for number of foreign players and number of titled players necessary to make a norm.  Ultimately, there were no norms achieved.  FM Michael Langer and NM Hans Niemann both achieved IM performances and tied for 4th-8th with 3 other GMs, but they did not face the necessary number of foreigners.  WIM Agata Bykovtsev had a fine tournament scoring 5 points and did meet the foreign and titled players, but fell just short of a WGM norm.

The Master section was won by top seeded GM Jeffery Xiong. He had another breakout tournament performance and crossed 2700 USCF and 2600 FIDE for the first time.   Jeffery is now preparing to play in his first US Championship. At only 15 years old, this 10th grader is the highest rated player in the world born this century.  His future is certainly very bright.  Jeffery played eight of the nine rounds on board one, played 4 of the other 5 GMs (and 4 other IMs enroute to his undefeated first pace victory).  He won $3000 plus the $200 first place bonus. His favorite game was his round 5 win over GM Conrad Holt.

GM Holt equaled Xiong’s win total with six and wound up with 7 points finishing in clear 2nd place.  Holt started slowly drawing NM Sanjay Ghatti in round one.  Holt achieved an advantage as white, but allowed too much counterplay and for a while Ghatti was winning, but Holt held the draw.  Holt’s first round draw set up an interesting pairing in round 2.  Holt was paired up (by points) to the lowest rated player with one point an 1800 player resulting in a nearly 700 rating point difference for the pairing!  After winning in rounds two, three, and four, Holt worked himself back into contention for the top prizes.  Here Holt hands FM Michael Langer his only loss of the tournament.

Somewhat unusual for tournaments of this size is the fact that the top three prizes were not ties.  In clear third pace was GM Bartlomiej Macieja.  GM Macieja coaches the University of Texas Ro Grande Valley Chess tea.  UT-RGV tied for first at this year’s Pan-American Inter-collegiate and will be in the college chess final four. GM Macieja counts as one of his best games this tournament his win over GM Julio Sadorra in the final round.

Sadorra was one of five player’s tying for 4th place with 6 points.  Sadorra played some exciting chess.  He sacrificed a piece for mate in both rounds 1 and 2!

GMs Andrey Stukopin and Andrey Baryshpolets were the other GMs tying for 4th.  As mentioned, FM Langer and NM Niemann also scored 6 and were tied for 4th.  All the 4th place winners received $250 except for Langer who won $1400 for clear first Under 2300 (FIDE).

Every tournament has a few interesting stories and this one is no exception.  In one of the lower sections, I was called to a board for an illegal move.  The player who made the illegal move had a lone king versus black’s army.  Neither player was keeping score, but both agreed that the illegal move had been made in the last 10 moves.  When I got to the board the player wanting to go back to the position where the illegal move occurred was moving several pieces in an attempt to recreate the position.  Of course this made it difficult to determine what the current position is.  As I’m trying to untangle this, both players agree that the payer with the lone king was checkmated after the illegal move was made, but within the last 10 moves.  It wasn’t hard to arrive at the correct decision, but it was humorous that a player with a lone king, who made an illegal move, and who displaced the final position was arguing he had a right to go back to the illegal move because it had not been 10 moves!

A more interesting TD story was also in the lower section.  Black’s cell phone goes off for a second time.  In accordance with the rules, he was warned after the first offense to turn off his cell phone and if it rang again he would be forfeited.  Of course it did ring again.  He was forfeited.    However, his opponent has a lone king.  What is the correct result of the game?  1-0?  ½ – ½?  ½- 0?  0 -0?  For those who want to know more about this situation, see “Running Chess Tournaments” in USCF Forums.  

The master section is not immune from stories either.  I was watching a high board number game in time pressure.  Black is winning with two pieces and a pawn for a rook, but he only has 5 seconds (with 10 second delay).  White was able to sacrifice his rook for the remaining pawns and get to B+N versus lone king.  Black, rated 2256 FIDE, tried for 40 moves but could not checkmate.  I’m sure with more than 5 seconds, he would have done it.


The Class sections were all seven rounds rather than 9.  The Under 2200 section ended in a two way tie between Robert Sanchez and David Gaston.  They each started with 5 out f 6 and drew their last round game to earn $1500 each.  Gaston lost his first round game to Leo Creger (who finished tied for third) and re-entered.  

In the A section, Arish Varani finished with 6 ½ out of 7 to take $2000 for clear first.  He also picked up 255 rating points!

In the B section Erick Zachate finished with 6 points for clear first and $2000.  

The C section was won by Artemio Loiz with 6 ½ which was worth clear first and $1200.  

The D section ended in a two way tie for first with 5 ½.  Kenan Wright and Naren Pullela each won $900 for their efforts.

The class E section was won by the section’s top seed – Rachel Li with a score of 6 points worth $800.  Rachel is the sister of IM Ruifeng Li.  They combined for the mixed doubles prize with each winning $500 for that victory.

The blitz tournament had a lighter than expected turnout.  Jacob Furfine scored 6 ½ out of 8 to win the $55 prize.  Furfine was helped when top seeded IM Felix Aponte forfeited his two round 1 games.   IM Aponte went 5-1 in the remaining games and tied for 3rd place.  

International Arbiter and National Tournament Director (NTD) Steve Immitt directed for CCA assisted by NTDs David Hater, Brian Yang and Tracey Vibbert (also an IA) and Senior TD Rob Jones.

Full tournament details (including most of the games from the master section) are at

Details on past CCA tournaments can be found at  


    • The FIDE title regulations provide that in a 9 round event such as this in order to earn an IM norm you can only play 5 players from your own federation. Thus you need a minimum of 4 players not from your own federation i.e, 4 foreign payers.

Leave a Comment

  • Categories

  • Archives

  • Announcements

  • US Chess Press