RICHARDSON — Survival of the fittest is no small matter when your name is "Darwin" — Darwin Yang.
"The joy of victory is very enjoyable," said the 14-year-old Plano boy. "I just want to win."
At an elite tournament sponsored by the top-ranked University of Texas at Dallas chess team this week, Yang hoped to reach the rare status of "International Master."
For his age, he's the best chess player in the United States, and he hoped to achieve a status just below a top-rated Grandmaster.
"He definately stands out," said Jim Stallings, Director of Chess at UT-Dallas.
Tournament competitors include six scholarship players from UT-Dallas, a Grandmaster from India, and another from India.
Just two years ago, Darwin came to watch these guys play. Now, he's playing against them.
"It feels like you've gone so far. You've accomplished so much. You finally get to reach your dreams," he said.
Concentration is intense. The competition is fierce.
That's why Darwin's father prefers to wait outside.
"I'm nervous," Dujiu Yang confessed.
You'd think he would be used to the pressure by now. His son has been playing since first grade, and Darwin practices up to eight hours a day.
"Of course your own natural talent is important, but other than that, preparation is everything," he said.
That's how this Darwin gives "natural selection" just a little extra help as he moves down a path rarely traveled.
Darwin did not qualify for International Master status this time, but he will have additional opportunities in the coming year.