Thursday, January 28

FM Zierk Wins Falconer Award

Mechanics' Institute chess director IM John Donaldson reports that Los Gatos High School junior FM Steven Zierk won the 2010 Falconer Award as Northern California's top rated kid. The cash award, given by former US Senior Champion and longtime Mechanics' Institute Trustee Neil Falconer to the highest rated Bay Area player under 18 on the December rating supplement, is equal to the youngster's rating - in Steven's case $2,387. Past winners of this prestigious prize include IM Vinay Bhat (now a Grandmaster) and IM Sam Shankland.

The fight for this year's came down to the final tournament in Reno, the Western States Open, with FM Daniel Naroditsky ahead by 45 points. Steven literally needed to pull off a 2700 level performance, which is exactly what he did by beating one Grandmaster and drawing with two others. I predict these two teenagers, both now rated above 2420 and ranked in the top 15 of the country under age 21, will compete neck and neck again in 2010.

Here's a summary of Steven Zierk's many chess achievements. (Photo at top by Shorman.)

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