The 86th Annual Southwest Open Chess Championship, sanctioned by the Texas Chess Association (TCA) and hosted by the Dallas Chess Club (DCC), was held at the Doubletree by Hilton hotel in Irving from September 4 to September 7.
The tournament was broken down into Open, Reserve, Novice and Scholastic Sections for chess enthusiasts from grades K-12. COVID-19 protocols were being used, as no one was allowed in the building, the practice or the active rooms without a mask.
Sharangopi Jayaraj of Plano, who is the father of the only female player in the tournament, said of his daughter, 11 year-old Neha Sharan, that, “She’s been playing about three years. She got interested in chess and we took her to a tournament in second or third grade. She won fourth place, so I thought I thought she might be a natural in chess.
“She goes to Rice Middle School. Right now, she is ranked 25th in her class in the U.S., so I think that she will keep going. She likes that I like it and that we are supporting her wherever she goes. She’s in the Reserve Category, which I think is 1400 to 1800. She’s [ranked] 1453,” said Jayaraj.
“I just wanted to say a few words about why we think that running this event is safe,” said Tom Crane, President of the Texas Chess Association (TCA). “Number one, as you see by the pictures, everyone is wearing a mask. Number two, no one is touching each other. We’re using common sense. We have a large jug of hand sanitizer for anybody [to use]. We have a disinfectant spray that we spray the pieces with at the end of each round.
These protocols worked well in the last tournament that TCA was able to hold, back in July.
At the end of the tournament, the winners were: Justin Joseph Sarkar from New York (first place in the Open Category); Shaun Graham from Oklahoma (first place in the Reserve Category); and Derek Hoover from Richardson (first place in the Novice Category).