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Bradford is the 2006 Senior Open Champ Print E-mail
By Todd Andrews   
September 4, 2006

The 2006 United States Senior Championship (Nashville, Tennesee, Aug 27-Sept.1) wrapped up with some serious battles to determine the place prizes. With upsets on boards two and three, perhaps Ilya Solonkovich, playing FM Joe Bradford on the top board, should have tried to continue the trend! However, he was content with Bradford's draw offer and that was all it took for the Texan to take this year's edition of the Senior Championship.

Joe Bradford is retired now from his job with the Texas Department of Transportation and now he's ready for next year's US Championship. Or is he? Joe found that there is some confusion on the whole issue, because it was not previously advertised as a qualification tournament, but it has always been a qualifier in the past. There seems to be some confusion with the U.S. Championship, particularly in the scheduling of the qualifiers for next year's championship. We'll have to wait and see.

Final Standings:

1. FM Joe Bradford
2. IM Walter J. Shipman 5.0/6
3. Ilya Solonkovich, Frederick Kleist, Goran Pestic 4.5/6
4. David G.Ruple, Dan E.Mayers, Henry J. Robinson 4.0/6

View complete Crosstable

Other Kudos

IM Walter Shipman earned clear second with his last round victory over the slightly higher rated FM Lester Van Meter


16...axb5 instead of the text 16...bxc5 17.cb5 Na5 18.c6 Ba8 19.Bd4 is an interesting line where White keeps up a lot of pressure, but Black should still be slightly better. 25.Nd5 was White's a mistake leading to unfavorable exchanges, as well as 27. g4? which Shipman punished promptly with 27....Nxg4! White resigned, rather than suffer lines line 28. Bf4 Qxf4! or 28.fxg4 Qe4+.

One determined woman also made the trip from Texas with her husband and she came to hunt masters! Julie O'Neill finished the event with a respectable 3.0/6.0, however a victory in the last round would have given her a place prize. Julie is clearly familiar with the game though, she use to be an employee for the U.S.C.F. no less! Here is her victory over National Master Thomas Magar of Pennsylvania.


In the opening, Black seemed a little gun-shy as 8...d5 and 10...b5 seem better than 8...d6 and 10...b6. On White's part, 14. c4 was an error, shutting the door on the bishop and permanently weakening the d4 square. Rel was better. Black should have responded to 14.c4 with Qd3!, picking off one of the two center pawns and invading the White position. White attacked energetically at the finish and had a huge advantage when Black blundered with 23...Rf7, dropping a piece. Black resigned soon after.

The 2006 Senior ran with comfortably in the Opryland Hotel and devoted players even had the option to stay over and start the 60th Annual Tennessee State Championship the same day their tournament concluded. Julie signed up, showing that she had a surplus of energy, and perhaps more masters to defeat.

Todd Andrews wrote this article in the midst of winning his second consecutive Tennessee State Championship title. A personal report from that tournament with pictures and annotated games will appear later this week.