Over The Top SEO
Home Page arrow Chess Life Online arrow 2012 arrow November arrow Reflections on a Model U.S. Open
Reflections on a Model U.S. Open Print E-mail
By Al Lawrence   
August 14, 2012
The recently completed U.S. Open Chess Championship in Vancouver deserves a look-back. First of all, it demonstrated once again that the Northwest is a viable location for big USCF events. The previous local U.S. Open, in across-the-river Portland, was held a quarter-century ago in 1987. “We won’t wait that long again to have a U.S. Open here,” USCF Executive Director Bill Hall told the closing-ceremony crowd.

The reasons for returning are obvious. The hard work of Northwest Chess stalwarts Russell Miller, Frank Niro, Jeff Roland, and webmaster Eric Holcomb, in combination with USCF’s own professional efforts, brought in 517 entrants, ranking attendance in the top 15 of all 113 U.S. Opens. (The Open has been held without fail every year since 1900. The all-time record was set in 1983 when more than 800 attended the famous but now defunct Ambassador Hotel in Pasadena, California.) This summer’s downtown location, the Hilton Vancouver Washington, turned out to be a U.S. Open annual migrant’s dream venue. All the players were spaciously deployed in one giant, perfectly lit and well-air-conditioned room—where they could keep track of the roped-off top boards and hear all announcements first hand. The host hotel’s accommodations were first-rate, but after a few days a brief change of scene and cuisine is always welcome. A walk around town, past dozens of nearby restaurants and shops provided blood flow and variety.

A surprise treat was Esther Short Park, with its signature bell tower, immediately across the street from the Hilton. Even a short break yielded an opportunity to stroll through the farmers’ market or booths at the other special events. Free live music—unheard in the game room next door!—was often a feature of this walk in the park.

Seirawan & Pupols

A highlight for chess-history buffs was the photo op of Viktors Pupols and Yasser Seirawan, two of the Northwest’s legendary chess superheroes, reprising their famous head-hug photograph from 40 years ago, when Pupols was “uncle” to a curly-haired Yaz. 

GM Seirawan with 70s style hair, with young IM Greg Shahade.
I’d be remiss not to point out that the results of the Open and its ancillary events were a romp for three representatives of Webster University’s new 2012-13 squad, two of whom were previously on Texas Tech’s 2011-12 university championship team. The three new Webster U. teammates won three titles: U.S. Open, U.S. Open Blitz and U.S. Open game/15. Manuel Leon Hoyos, the current champion of Mexico and first board on that nation’s Olympiad team, took the overall title by virtue of his eight-point score, tie-breaks over GM Dmitry Gurevich, and a win in the one-game Armageddon playoff against John Bryant of New York. Teammate Andre Diamant, former Brazilian champ, won the blitz title, besting the frenetic 129-player field, while teammate Vitaly Neimer won the Game/15 over 37 others. Diamant and Neimer transferred to Webster U. from the Texas Tech University championship team.

Chief TD Bill Snead
All the tournaments ran without hitches. And despite three-tiers of four-day, six-day, and nine-day schedules and staggered starting times, the TD staff kept everyone in the right chair at the right time. The two critical merges of one schedule into another took place without distractions. The event was a triumph for both local organizers and USCF, who these days takes responsibility as chief organizer. Chief TD Bill Snead of Texas, along with NTD Alan Losoff of Illinois and Phillip R. Smith, USCF’s IT Director and Webmaster, led the directing staff, who were always visible and in control. USCF’s chief operating officer Patricia Smith was on hand to handle the complex coordination of tournaments and meetings.  

“I remember that National Open Organizer Fred Gruenberg emphasized two simple rules,” Snead said. “Start the rounds on time. Keep the playing room quiet.” Those key accomplishments and lots more, plus a strong turnout of both locals and travellers, made Vancouver 2012 a model for future opens.

Al Lawrence, the new Director of the Texas Tech U. Chess Program, will also be writing an article about the US Open for Chess Life Magazine


November - Chess Life Online 2012

A Parent’s Reflections: Prelude to the K-12 Khachiyan Wins American Open The Scoop on the National Chess Congress World #1 Magnus Carlsen visits the Bay Area Urgent Info for USCF Directors & FIDE Events Results are In From Thanksgiving Weekend Philly & Seattle Fight for US Chess League Championship Women's World Champs Final: Stefanova vs. Ushenina Dancing Around Chess at the Philadelphia Art Museum Chirila Wins UTD Invitational Sevillano Wins First East Bay OpenMedals in Maribor: A Coach's Perspective Check Out the New USCFSales.com Four Medals for USA: Troff & Sevian Earn GoldWorld Women's Champs Down to Eight US Chess League Quarterfinals: Highlights on the Board Elena Donaldson Akhmilovskaya, 1957-2012Chess Federation President Meets Vladimir PoznerGM Ramirez on Maribor: Clutch Preparation Irina Krush on Winning Streak at Women's World ChampsUpdated USCF Scholastic Regulations Sevian Leads in Slovenia as Team USA Marches on Krush & Zatonskih Advance in Women's World Champs Kaidanov & Vojinovic Top King's Island Open USCF Accepting SuperNationals Bookstore Bids US Chess League: Playoff Time! USCF Invitational Requirements Updated GM Ramirez on the World Youth: Arriving in Maribor Before the Storm: NYC Rapid Chess Challenge The Post on Lessons from Brooklyn Castle World Youth Begins in Slovenia Sevillano Takes Clear First in Auburn Open USCF Dues Promo: Buy Two Years of Premium, Get Third Free Hundreds face off in Pleasanton for G/30 and G/60 ChampsBrooklyn in Da House: Ashley Plays Blitz [VIDEO] Pairings Set for Women's World Champs International Game Day at Denton Library Notice to Premium Members: November Chess Life