Sadorra, Xiong & Wheeler Top Southwest Open; Hilby Earns GM Norm

The 84th Annual Southwest Open took place on August 30 – September 3 in Irving, Texas.  The event attracted 349 players who competed in six sections, two of those in the one-day scholastic event.  The International section had 53 players representing 15 federations, including 11 GMs, 14 IMs and one WIM. At the end of the 9-round event, GM Julio Sadorra, GM Jeffery Xiong and IM Cameron Wheeler shared the title with 6.5 points, each earning a third of the top three prizes combined, $2,400-$1,200-$600, so $1,400 for each player.

IM Craig Hilby earned a GM norm at the Southwest Open

IM Craig Hilby, a freshman at the University of Texas at Dallas had an outstanding event against very tough competition and earned a GM norm! Hilby explained to US Chess the reason for his surge.

I was really on form this tournament and was definitely out for blood. My mid-tournament talk with Keaton (Kiewra) really calmed me down and made me forget all about playing for norms or extrinsic purposes; it cleared my head and I played the best chess of my life the last 4 rounds. More and more, I’m taking risks against higher rateds and playing all out for wins when I used to be very happy with a draw.

Craig annotated a key victory, his win over GM Kovalyov.

Craig also thanked his coach and family.

My coach Alexander Ipatov has been an amazing inspiration and help in my growth throughout this last year, he is the one who taught me the Grunfeld that served me so well this tournament. He helped transform me into a much better player. My parents have also been amazingly supportive of me throughout my chess career.

Last round at the Southwest Open: Board 1- Xiong vs Hilby, 2 – Sadorra vs. Checa, 3 – Wheeler vs. Arrivas, 4 – Reshef vs. Matsenko

FM Ben Li and Anish Vivekananthan, with 5.0 points, earned IM norms.  For Li, it was his final norm for the title and his IM application will be considered at the upcoming FIDE Congress.

WIM Emily Nguyen, also with 5.0 points, had a strong finish with a win against IM Titas Stremavicious and draws against GM Dani Raznikov and GM Anton Kovalyov to secure a WGM norm.

In the U2300 section, also FIDE rated, WGM Carla Heredia finished in clear first with 6.5/7 and earned the $800 prize. News of her victory spread rapidly throughout the media, as Heredia builds a powerful social media following, which should be of particular interest to our Spanish speaking members, or those who aspire to improve their Spanish.

Rachael Li and Shiva Kakarla tied for first, with 6.0 points, in the 7-round Reserve section, each earning $600.  This performance allowed the 8-year old Rachael, little sister of GM Ruifeng Li, to increase her rating by 30 points, to 1990, only 10 points shy of achieving an Expert rating!  In the 7-round Novice section, Joshua Feldman pocketed the $500 prize as he finished clear first with 6.0 points.  His victory allowed him to improve his US Chess rating by 111 points.

The scholastic winners were Kabir Ahmed and Cole Blakeman in the K-12 Championship, and Shreya Kirumaki in the K-12 1000.

The event was organized by Luis Salinas and Barbara Swafford of the Dallas Chess Club.  I was the Chief Arbiter/Chief TD and NTD/NA Eddie Rios assisted in the International Section. NTD/IA Brian Yang was the Chief for the U2300, Reserve and Novice Section.  The Scholastic Tournament was directed by Louis Reed, Jr. and Thomas Crane.  Luis Salinas and Lori Riley were the Pairing Chiefs for all sections except the International.

For US Chess results, please see the tournament’s MSA page.  The International section results, pairings and FIDE statistics may be found at chessresults.  The games of the top 24 boards of the International section were transmitted live using DGT boards, courtesy of UT Dallas, and are available here.  For details of this and upcoming events at the Dallas Chess Club, please go to


  1. In addition to our top player lists can we have a list of American players with active norms for GM, IM, WGM and WIM titles?

Leave a Comment

  • Categories

  • Archives

  • Announcements

  • US Chess Press