Texas Tech chess player wins 2022 U.S. Open Championship

Published: Aug. 18, 2022 at 5:06 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 18, 2022 at 6:52 PM CDT
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - Texas Tech student and Grandmaster Aleksey Sorokin is this year’s chess U. S. Open Champion. The senior outlasted more than 400 players to bring the top prize home to Lubbock. He competed in the tournament in Rancho Mirage, California, in early August, going undefeated with seven wins and two draws. He tied for first with Grandmaster Elshan Moradiabadi and beat his opponent in an Armageddon game to win the title.

Sorokin grew up in Barnaul, a city in Siberia, Russia, and started playing chess at eight years old. He moved to the U. S. in 2019 to join the chess team at Texas Tech, feeling the heat as soon as he stepped off the plane. He had never heard about the university, until another Russian Grandmaster, a stranger, invited him to join the program.

“I never met him before. He just reached me out and said like, ‘this is an opportunity to come here and study and play chess.’ I decided that it sounds interesting to study in America. So, that’s why I’m here,” Sorokin said. “I just like the game and plus I’m enjoying winning, and I win a lot.”

He was on the 2019 team that won the Pan-American Intercollegiate Chess Championship. The only player from that team still in school, it was Sorokin’s time to shine at the 2022 U. S. Open.

“Basically, it was a really huge playing hall and it was only one game, and maybe 30 to 40 spectators looking at us. So, I was kind of nervous, but when we started yeah it just, it’s gone. I was just playing chess,” Sorokin said.

After several days of chess, seven wins and two draws, Sorokin won an Armageddon-style playoff for the crown. His trophy was too big for his carry-on. He had to give it to his teammate before their luggage got mixed up in Dallas, but it safely made it home to the chess program room in Drane Hall.

The game before the final round, Sorokin challenged another player from Texas Tech. He says the program recruits top players from all over the world.

“We’re like one of the biggest or strongest chess teams in America. So, if you love chess just come here. We have a chess club. Just come to the chess office, and yeah we will teach you how to play,” Sorokin said.

On the non-competitive side, the chess club is called the Knight Raiders. Sorokin will graduate in the spring with a degree in Computer Science. He says coaching chess may be in his future, though.

“I believe I am good at chess and I can teach someone to be good, as well. I really like the game and why not?” Sorokin said.