Chess Success: Webster Players Excel in Tournaments Around the Globe

Feb. 19, 2013

Webster sophomore grandmaster Georg Meier, who is the No. 4-ranked chess player in Germany, was invited to compete in the “super invitational” Grenke Baden Baden Classic tournament. The opposition was mighty. Reigning World Champion Vishy Anand of India. The top-ranked players in Germany and England. And the world's fifth-ranked Fabiano Caruana of Italy, who just happened to start his chess career at age 5 at the Polgar Chess Center in Queens, N.Y. It has been 88 years since Baden Baden hosted such a prestigious invitational.

Despite being the lowest-ranked player in this powerful field, Webster's Meier finished in third place overall, and the top German player in the tournament. Even more significant, he drew both games against World Champion Anand. “No collegiate player in the United States has ever held a reigning World Champion to a draw twice in a tournament,” said Paul Truong, director of marketing for the Susan Polgar Institute of Chess Excellence (SPICE) at Webster University. “This was an incredible feat!”

Webster senior and women's international master Inna Agrest of Sweden competed in the Baden Baden Open, which was held alongside the invitational. She also had a great outcome, gaining 22.4 rating points.

Two teams from Webster competed in the 2013 U.S. Amateur Team Championship in Chicago last weekend. The event is the most prestigious amateur team event in the U.S. Each team consists of four players and the average rating of the team must be under 2200, which is considered the amateur level.

The team members also must decide on a nickname for their team. Webster's two teams chose “Gorlok Express” and “Oppan Gorlok Style,” based on the YouTube sensation song Oppan Gangnam Style.

At the event, Webster junior Mara Kamphorst of Brazil played the role of hero for her “Oppan Gorlok Style” team. “Her upset win against Adream Liang of Wisconsin in the final round gave her team a crucial victory for a third place tie finish out of 54 teams,” Truong said.

Webster's “Gorlok Express” team finished with a 4-1 overall match score to tie for third place. Paul Truong Jr. scored one win and two draws against much-higher rated opponents to contribute to his team's success.

Another very strong event, the Illinois Blitz Championship, was held during the 2013 U.S. Amateur Team Championship in Chicago. “In a super-tough tournament with 55 individual players, including five grandmasters, Webster junior and Grandmaster Denes Boros of Hungary scored an impressive 9-1 score to finish a full point ahead of the field,” Truong said. “The only loss he had was to his own Webster teammate, junior grandmaster Anatoly Bykhovsky of Israel, as they split 1-1.”

Up next? Webster freshman and grandmaster Wesley So of the Philippines arrived in Reykjavik, Iceland on Sunday to compete in the prestigious Reykjavik Open. With the success from the recent Zonal Championship in the Philippines, So earned a berth in the 2013 World Cup while pushing his rating to a personal best of 2689, Truong said. “He is 11 points shy of the 2700 mark, which is considered the level of a super grandmaster. No collegiate chess player in the United States has ever come close to this mark before. Wesley will try to break this barrier while competing in Iceland.”