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IM Kannappan Celebrates The Green In St. Louis Print E-mail
By Steve Immitt   
March 19, 2013
IM Priyadharshan Kannappan, Photo STL Chess Club
The 17th edition of the Continental Chess Association’s St. Louis classic, the annual Mid-America Open brilliantly eclipsed all its predecessors.  This year, the weekend of March 15-17 saw the largest turnout in the tournament’s history, with over 251 players making their way to the Crowne Plaza St. Louis-Clayton, a hotel reminiscent of grand days past in the Gateway City.  It wasn’t just the familiar Midwest places represented this time either— players from over 21 states and the District of Columbia, spanning both coasts, were on hand this year, imparting a true national tincture to a regional mainstay tournament. 

The records were not only shattered in the quantity, but also the quality of those attending.  The 60-player Open Section fielded no less than 25 Masters, including a dazzling display of seven Grandmasters!  And not a single one was even able to tie for first!

In the end it was one of the tournament’s three IMs, Priyadharshan Kannappan of India, who emerged alone in the Winner’s Circle. Eschewing the notion of a quick draw to finish in the money, Kannappan and his last-round opponent, GM Alexander Shabalov, soon became embroiled in a heated theoretical battle on Board Two.  


When his opponent resigned after making the time control, Priyadharshan was able to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with the best kind of green:  the $2,320 first prize plus a $116 bonus prize for finishing in clear first place, with 4½ points, as well. 

Priyadharshan, who is studying for three more years at Lindenwood University in St. Louis, headed up a powerful contingent of his fellow students, which also included Hungarian IM Levan Bregadze, WGM Anna Sharevich and FM Kostantin Kavutskiy.

A seven-way, international logjam piled up half a point back. Five GMs, Gregory Kaidanov of Kentucky (fresh from his tie for first in last weekend’s Western Class Championship in Agoura Hills, California), Corrales Jimenez of Cuba, St. Louis’s own Ben Finegold, Denes Boros of Hungary and Alex Yermolinsky of South Dakota, along with Bregadze, all tied with Indiana junior star Sean Vibbert, each winning $314. 

Youth was also served in the line for the Under 2200 prize money in the Open Section, as Tom Polgar-Shutzman and nine-year-old FM Awonder Liang tied with Joseph Knapp, bringing back $541 each for scoring 3 points.

Barry Manthe and David Askin each took home $1,218 for scoring 4½ points in the Under 2000 Section.  Mohammadreza Hajiarbabi had the honor of turning in the only perfect score of the weekend, winning $1,508 for sweeping the Under 1800 Section.  Jacob Norris and Richard  Pointer each scored 4½ points in the Under 1600 Section, earning them each $1,044.  In the Under 1400 Section, Edward Journey and Erik Tkachenko both tied with 4½ points as well, each winning $870.

The Under 1200 Section had a unique feature this year.  It was really two sections, an Adult Under 1200 Section, for players over age 18, and a complementary Junior Under  1200 Section, for players born in 1995 or later.  Todd Lifka scored 4½ points  to win the Adult Division, but his prize was limited to $150 as an unrated player, giving the bigger payday to Karuna Atmakurn and Jonathan Reigenborn, who each received $244 despite finishing a whole point back.  Ronit Kirumaki’s 773 rating made him a dark horse at the outset to win the $348 first prize in the Junior Under 1200 Section, but after he finished with 4½ points, he ended up taking home a little over one dollar for each point his rating went up at the end of the tournament.

Lindenwood University certainly gave its imprimatur to the Mid-America Open this year, but they were not alone.  The 350-player(!) Chess Club of Cornell University also befriended a number of Midwest chess players as well, when they donated sets and boards to some of the players.

If the prizes all seemed a bit larger than what was advertised this year, it was not, at least completely, due to an overly zealous celebration of the spirit(s) of St. Patrick’s Day.  Rather, the larger-than-projected turnout caused the prizes in the tournament, which were based on more conservative numbers from the previous years, all to be raised sixteen per cent! Hope you had a happy St. Patrick's Day too and enjoy further games from the event: