Texas Chess Center Grand Opening

by Alexey Root
1/26/2022 – With Omicron on the rise and social gatherings discouraged, leasing 2,000 square feet for in-person chess seems risky. Yet the gamble paid off for the Texas Chess Center, which attracted 67 players to its grand opening on January 22, 2022. WIM Alexey Root reports.| Photo: Christopher Tetzlaff

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Opening prep

The co-founders of the Texas Chess Center are Jarred Tetzlaff, Chief Executive Officer, and David Gaston, President. Their philosophy is that “chess never sleeps.” Tetzlaff and Gaston added, “With many businesses shuttering, or cutting back their offerings, it’s important to keep a diversity of options available for young and old!”

Jarred Tetzlaff (black suit, white shirt) | Photo: Christopher Tetzlaff

Recognizing the safety issues for in-person chess, Tetzlaff and Gaston allow players to wave or fist-bump their opponents in lieu of handshakes. Any player who begins to feel ill or uncomfortable before a round may excuse themselves with a half-point bye. Additionally, the Texas Chess Center offers both in-person and online options for chess games and coaching.

Before Tetzlaff and Gaston cut their center’s ceremonial ribbon at 12:30 p.m. on January 22, they sanitized sets and boards. They provided chess clocks, pre-set to G/30 d/5 (game in 30 minutes, 5-second delay). The men’s and women’s restrooms were clean. A parents’ waiting room had refreshments and video feeds from the tournament rooms. They expected 40 players.

David Gaston (standing). | Photo: Christopher Tetzlaff

Students Win!

Sixty-seven players, split into four sections, began their first-round games just after 1:00 p.m. on January 22. International Master Aaron Grabinsky won the Open section with a perfect 4–0 score, netting $200.

At The University of Texas at Dallas, Grabinsky is in his second semester of a master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering and is a member of the chess team. Grabinsky provided the notation for all four of his games. Three of Grabinsky’s wins were against players that finished tied for third through eighth place. Games from other players tied for third through eighth place (with 3–1) and a game from the second-place finisher (3½–½) are also at the end of this article.

Ajitesh Nair (White) vs. Aaron Grabinsky. | Photo: Alexey Root

A University of North Texas (UNT) engineering major, Dhroov Pandey, won the Under-1600 section with two wins and two draws. Pandey is the UNT Chess Club President. “Under 1600” refers to players rated 1599 and lower by the United States Chess Federation.

“Scholastic” means students in kindergarten through twelfth grades. Scholastic players took top honors in the two lowest sections. Ananya Srivatsan won the Under 1100 section with three wins and a draw. Chaithanya Telugu won the Under 600 section with a full-point BYE and three wins.


The games are from the top eight finishers in the Open section.

Alexey was the 1989 U.S. Women's Chess Champion and is a Woman International Master. She earned her bachelor’s degree in History at the University of Puget Sound and her doctoral degree in Education at The University of California, Los Angeles. She has been a Lecturer in Interdisciplinary Studies at UT Dallas since 1999 and is a prolific author.


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