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GMs Suarez and Becerra Win Southern Open Print E-mail
By David A. Hater   
August 11, 2015
The 23rd Southern Open was held at the Wyndham Resort in Orlando, Florida July 25-27th.  This year’s event had the highest attendance in nearly 20 years and was second in attendance only to the 265 players in the 4th Southern Open in 1996.   Originally it looked like this would be a typically attended tournament with attendance just over 200.  One day out, the pre-entries were 181 players and one GM.

However, strong at site entries increased the tournament and we wound up with 237 players and three GMs. The site was set for 240 players, so we had a full house most of the tournament!

Two of the three GMs would up tying for first.  Ironically, it was the two GMs who entered at site that won the tournament.  In this case, the early bird did not get the worm!

In many Swisses without a large number of GMs, the path to the top for GMs is typically to win when paired down and make draws against the other GMs.  This year’s Southern Open saw all 3 GMs win all their games against non-GMs, so the winner’s circle would be determined by the winner of the GM round robin since the GMs all played each other.

The first GM matchup occurred in the first round of the merged schedule – round 3.   GM Tejas Bakre had white versus GM Julio Becerra on board two while GM Isan Suarez faced FM Eduardo Franco on board 1. I’ve already revealed that the GMs win against all non-GMs, so you already know he result on board one.  Interestingly, the GM struggle on board two ended first and was a win for black:

The next GM matchup was in round four.  Becerra had white versus Suarez.   These two 2600+ GMs were seeded 1 and 2 and are within 50 rating points of each other and were both 3-0.  I expected a quick draw and that is exactly what occurred. 

There was one other 3-0.  Nicki Rosenthal pulled upsets in rounds two and three and was facing GM Bakre.  The GM did prevail and going into the last round Suarez and Becera led with 3 ½ and were followed by several players at 3 including: Bakre, Rosenthal, John Duggan, and Chaz Daley.  The pairings and standings dictated that there would be no quick draws.   Suarez had white versus Bakre on board one while Becerra had black versus Duggan on board two.  If boards one and two both ended in draws, either Rosenthal or Daly could tie for first with a win.  

Board one was the first to end though it did go until move 40.  Suarez made time control with less than a minute to spare, but when he made time control Bakre resigned. 

Becerra defeated Duggan to join the tie for first place at 4 ½.  On board three Rosenthal defeated Daly and his 4-1 score was good for clear 3rd but the 1st Under 2300 prize of $800 was more so he took that.  Rosenthal had a phenomenal tournament.  He was paired up 4 of the 5 rounds and his only loss was to GM Bakre. He picked up 44 rating points and e-gained his master rating.  There was a massive tie for 4th through 14th. The following ten players split 4th place and 2nd under 2300 which was worth $70:  Bakre, Duggan, Daley, Dalton Perrine, FM Franco, Vlad Yanofsky, Carlos Andretta, Jorge Renaldo,  Albert Liang, Ben Silva, and Sam Sokhanvari all with 3 points.

The Under 2100 section was won by Gordon Randall and Truman Hoang. The both started with 4-0 and played a very quick draw on board one in the last round. They could have been caught if board 2 or board 3 was decisive, but both ended in draws.  Randall and Hoang each won $1150.

The Under 1700 section had a clear winner. Daniel Rhenals finished 5-0 and pocketed $1200.  He turned in this fine game in round 5. 

One has to feel bad for Hinson. He started 4-0 and was on board one in the last round.  He lost and tied for 4th-9th and got $33.33 while his opponent got the big prize.

The Under 1300 section saw two perfect scores. Paul Lemay and Varun Chawla each won $600 for their efforts.  Lemay’s wall chart rating was 881.  He took 12 years off from rated chess and only started playing again this year.  In his last four tournament’s he has finished 10-4 and picked up 500 rating points, even though he played up in his last three small tournaments.  I think this will be his last under 1300 section!

Chaz Daley won clear 1st in the blitz with 7-1 and won $135.

Continental Chess Association offers Mixed Doubles Prizes at most of its tournaments.  Teams are two players and can be in different sections so long as he two players have an average rating under 2200.  Mixed doubles prizes are in addition to any other prizes won.  First place mixed doubles team was Camille Sibbitt and Brandon Sibbitt. Each won $400.  The second place mixed doubles was shared by two teams:  Kelsey Nakanishi and Valentina Ortega and Maya Nozaki and Andy Yang.  Each won $100.

Steve Immitt directed for the Continental Chess Association assisted by David Hater and Nathan Kelly.