U.S. Masters in Full Swing Print E-mail
By Todd Andrews   
March 15, 2007
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Ray Robson (left) photo by Dujiu Yang; Kazim Gulamali photo courtesy Georgia Chess Association

by Todd Andrews

The US Masters began as the Midwest Masters in Chicago in the 80’s and offered the nation’s strongest players the opportunity to match wits over the board. It then took on its present form as a USCF National event and stayed in Chicago up until the late 90’s when it was once held in Hawaii. The locale for the past two years has been Hendersonville, North Carolina. Hendersonville is wedged into the southwestern foothills of the Appalachians and is best known for its agriculture, primarily apples. This years event offers players three different scheduling options.

The Working Man Schedule
 
Also known as the two weekend schedule, it offers those with a busy weekday schedules the opportunity to make the tournament and their workweek. It was a small, regional player section with three Southern Fide Masters at the top. The event started well for me with this exciting and thematic Ruy Lopez kingside attack.



FM Kazim Gulamali of Atlanta came out on top of this schedule with 3.5/4.0 after deafeating FM Miles Ardman in the fourth round. Kazim is one of the strongest natural talents in the country and Miles is known for his highly original play coming out of obscure opening choices. Here is their fourth round battle.



Patrick Tae of Oak Ridge, TN is also off to a strong start with 3.0/4.0 after taking me out in round four.

The 7-Day

The 7-Day section offers one game a day for the first five rounds, the most comfortable schedule by far. Grandmaster Jaan Ehlvest out rates everyone in the event by over 200 points, with IM Bryan Smith the closest. The story of the first three rounds in this section is the very talented and young Ray Robson. He started 2-0 after beating IM Smith and then played this great game to hold the top player to a draw.



Ehlvest and Robson lead the group with 2.5/3.0.
 
The 5-Day

One of the great chances a southern master gets in this event is a chance to play many FIDE rated games with the option of re-entering. One could play a total of 15 rated games at one event, a rarity in the south. Southern Chess Legend Klaus Pohl took advantage of this re-entering twice! I also reentered to no avail, blundering in round one of the five-day and losing. IM Ronald Burnett entered in this section. With so few titled players and only 6 foreign players in the event, making norms is possible, but very difficult. Check the cross table for all the results and continue to check CLO for a full recap after the event.

The June issue of Chess Life Magazine will feature a report on the U.S. Masters by Mike Klein.

 
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