Steven Zierk won his first two games today at Junior High School Nationals in Dallas, Texas. Playing in the competitive K-9 division, Steven defeated two opponents from the host state, including talented second grader Dachey Lin (1748), the nation's top ranked 8 year old. There's no doubt that the pairings will become more difficult tomorrow, as there are a dozen players rated over 2000 in the section. The top two seeds are NM Michael Lee (2277) from Washington state and NM Parker Zhao (2225) from New York. Steven, officially rated 2105, is the fifth seeded player. Goooo Zkid!
Unfortunately, very few other kids from CalChess are playing this year; even the overall attendance is down by about 10%. Only Ray Orwig has made his annual pilgrimage to nationals with eight students from St. Mark's School in San Rafael. His top rated player, Puneeth Gadangi (1668) won in both of the first two rounds; the rest of the team is playing in the K-9 U1250 division.
Games from the top boards are available live on MonRoi as long as the convention center's internet stays up. Free registration is required, but that's worth it to watch the games between exciting young players. The pairing on board 2 between the country's top first grader Raymond Sun (1784) and NM Parker Zhao appeared interesting, but the game was anticlimactic when Zhao won a piece on move 10.
Update on Saturday morning: Steven is now 3-0.
Update on Saturday afternoon: Steven wins again and now stands at 4-0.