Copper "Norm" State Recap
By IM Daniel Rensch   
June 21, 2010
The 2010 Copper State International, presented by Abstrax Inc came to a close on Wednesday June 9th in Mesa, Arizona. The tournament ended in the same way that it started: "Fighting Chess" on boards one through twenty! It seemed that every participant had something to play for down the stretch. Whether it was first place and prize money, norms, or pride -- the event began with 40 players and ended with 40 players -- not a single player withdrew.

A group of fighters, Photo Shauna Rensch

It was our goal from the outset to create the highest quality chess environment, both over the board and "in the halls"; so the fact that every player completed the event was not a mew point at all -- it was a big deal! How did we attempt to ensure this?  First and foremost, we asked for a commitment from the players: For many of our participants, we added an extra fee -- required up front  -- that was only to be reimbursed upon completion of the event. We did this not to demand or control anyone's ability to leave the field if they were unhappy, but simply to make clear "before kick-off", exactly what we expected from each player during the tournament.

With the Copper State International, we believe that when you enter a tournament you are making a commitment to not only fight hard for your own goals, but to compete your hardest amongst your peers as they try to achieve theirs. We founded the tournament on this ideal, and we intend to hold to it.  As organizers and hosts, we also made a pledge to the players: To do our absolute best in providing a completely comfortable, cooperative, and productive atmosphere that would guarantee a high level of chess to be played. We tried to do this in any way we could before, during, and after the event -- and we will only try to get better with every year…

GM Giorgi Kacheishvili, GM Timur Gareev, GM Megsen Amanov and IM Jacek Stopa eat and analyze, Photo Shauna Rensch
Now, onto the chess! In the top section (A-Group) last year's "Sole" Champion was this year's Co-Champion. GM Timur Gareev (who at this point has already gone onto win the National Open) tied for first place with IM (now with two GM Norms) Mackenzie Molner. Each player finished with six points out of nine.

Also in the A-Group, IM Sam Shankland (who missed out on his final GM Norm by a half point) and GM Alejandro Ramirez tied for 3rd place. There were several other great players  competing in the A-Group. Placing tied for 5th-8th place were GM Alex Lenderman, IM Nikolay Andrianov, IM Irina Krush, and IM Dean Ippolito -- all finishing with four points. 9th and 10th places were shared between IM John Bartholomew and IM Jacek Stopa.  Although there were many incredible battles, IM Nikolay Andrianov (featured below) took home the Best Game Prize for his 2nd round win over IM Jacek Stopa.

In the B-Group (which it should be noted was not the "B" Group because of the caliber of players, but simply because it wasn't a Round Robin. In fact, the average rating of the top ten players would have surpassed those in the "A") we saw a three-way tie for first place between GM Daniel Fridman (the tournament's strongest player at #84 in the world), Giorgi Kacheishvili, and Mikhail Kekelidze.

GM Daniel Fridman playing bughouse
Grandmaster Fridman lead the field by a full point heading into the last round, and had apparently already played all of his "tough" competition. He was forced with a pairing a full point and a half out of his score group against IM David Pruess. Well Mr. Pruess, who had gotten off to a slow start, had finally found his stride… GM Fridman felt the wraith of David's aggressive style and lost in 26 moves!

This startling result threw the B-Group final standings for a loop, and so an Armageddon Blitz Match between our three Co-Champions would have to decide the clear winner. GM Fridman made quick work of his competitors however, beating both Kacheishvili and Kekelidze 2-0 each, to take clear first.

Splitting fourth, fifth and U2500 FIDE honors were GM Mesgen Amanov, Siddharth Ravichandran, and IM David Pruess. Siddharth also earned his final IM norm.

Capturing prize money and an IM-Norm each were Conrad "Thunder-Holt" and Keaton "Special K" Kiewra! Arizona's own, FM Robby Adamson, reached a long time goal by earning his final IM-Norm. Robby showed great perseverance by rebounding from a tough Chicago Open result. His tournament was so strong in fact, he was among the leaders throughout and even had chances for a GM-Norm heading into the final rounds.

Although we believe all the participants enjoyed the tournament, perhaps no one more than Daniel Fridman. Daniel and his wife, Anna Zatonskih, even made a donation in support of the tournament and of American Chess Events LLC's goal to raise $2,000.00 -- to be donated directly to the Cardon Children's Medical Center -- during the Copper State. A goal which we reached!

Final thanks from ACE Chess to Abstrax Inc, and to all those who helped make this event possible. See you next year, June 2nd-9th 2011 in Arizona!