(Board 1 showdown on on Sunday morning in Dallas: Michael Lee on the left against Steven Zierk on the right. Photos from the tournament album on the MonRoi website.)
After five rounds of action, nothing has been settled yet at the Junior High School Nationals in Dallas. Although nobody has a perfect score in the elite K-9 division, there are still four players tied for first place at 4.5 points. The top board tomorrow morning will pit 8th grader NM Michael Lee (2277) from Seattle as white against Los Gatos High School 9th grader Steven Zierk (2105). Two more competitors are tied for the lead and will square off on board 2: 5th grader Darwin Yang (2159) and 7th grader Jason Jia (1884), both hailing from the Lone Star State. Those of us in California can watch live on MonRoi beginning at 7:00am. The seventh and final round is scheduled for 12:00 noon PDT.
Steven has done well so far with wins against two 1900s and a draw in round 5 against Raven Sturt (2082) from New York. Thanks to a draw on board 1 between Michael Lee and Darwin Yang, our hero is still tied for first place. Zkid, go get 'em!
The St. Mark's School team has 9.5 points in the K-9 U1250 division, which is good for 12th place after five rounds. Their top player, Puneeth Gadangi (1668), has 3.0 points in the difficult K-8 division. Good luck to longtime coach Ray Orwig and his team!
Update on Sunday morning: Unfortunately, Steven lost in an extremely wild Dutch defense game. Give credit to both competitors for playing exciting chess.