July 20, 2009
Congratulations to IM Daniel Fernandez, winner of the 2009 Texas State Championship, held Memorial Day weekend in San Antonio. Daniel scored 6-1, a half-point ahead of NM Kalin Nonchev. In the Amateur section Paul Haney scored 6.5-0.5, winning first place by a full point.
The Dallas Chess Club organizers did a great job running the event, but the 113-player turnout was disappointing. In fact, a search of the USCF tournament database reveals that this was a record low turnout for a Texas State Championship. (The database only goes back to 1992.) Unfortunately, this seems to be a trend, as we've now seen below-average turnouts for 5 consecutive years. (An average of 129 for 2005-2009 versus 153 for 1992-2004, or almost a 20% difference.)
Part of the problem is that many Texas players now prefer to play in the Chicago Open, which is held the same weekend and offers a much larger ($100,000 guaranteed) prize fund. This year, 14 Texas players opted to play in Chicago, including 12-time Texas State champion IM Joe Bradford, FM Michael Langer, and FM Darwin Yang.
Another problem is that many schools hold their graduation ceremonies over Memorial Day weekend. And many of our top players are UTD students who return home (out of state) when the Spring semester ends. One possible solution, proposed by Luis Salinas, would be to swap the dates of the Southwest Open and State Championship.
What do you think? If you have ideas for how to attract more players to the State Championship, please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org