One of the highlights of the annual US Open is the Denker Tournament of High School Champions, featuring the best young players from almost all of the 50 states. Next to each of the boards are two flags representing the states where the combatants live. This invitational, named after the American legend Grandmaster Arnold Denker, is a true competition of champions, as each participant already won a state level championship just to qualify. GM Denker would be proud of this year's field of 48, featuring five young masters and a whopping total of 14 participants rated over 2100 USCF on the August supplement.
The level of play is fierce, especially because some participants are highly underrated. After three rounds, only two experts had a perfect 3-0: Scott Low (2198) of Maryland and Karel Gonzalez (2183) of Florida. All of the masters, including top rated FM Daniel Yeager (2349), have 2.5 or 2.0 points, surrendering draws or even losing to experts or even A players. Click here for the standings and pairings of the Denker invitational.
Steven Zierk (see photo at top) is the Northern California representative at the Denker. He shared 1st place in the K-12 division of the CalChess Scholastics and became the state's nominee. Unfortunately, Steven started off on the wrong foot here in Dallas, losing badly to Alex Weiner (1808) of Alabama in the first round. He has since bounced back, winning three straight games largely because of his vastly superior endgame skill. Steven has accurately observed that many A players cannot handle even the most dead drawn of endgames. Hopefully, Steven can continue his streak in the last two rounds tonight at 5pm PDT and Tuesday at 9am PDT; with a little help from other players, a share of 1st place is still within reach! Goooo Zkid!!!