Barnett Joins GMs Paragua & Shabalov at the Top of the Atlantic Open
By Matan Prilleltensky   
August 30, 2010
Alex Barnett, here pictured at the 2010 World Open
 The Atlantic Open (August 27-29), held in our nation’s capital, attracted 353chessplayers to a major stop on the CCA circuit. Turnout was slightly down (20 less) on last year, with accommodation issues to blame. The tournament coincided with a tea party rally, and the Washington Westin (our host hotel) seems to have given some of the CCA-booked rooms away.

Four GMs and four IMs contested the hard-fought open section. Many local players came from DC, Maryland, and Virginia. One of them, NM Alex Barnett, became the story of the tournament by tying for first with 4.5/5. Joining him were Grandmasters Alex Shabalov and Mark Paragua. Paragua and Barnett took home $1167 each while Shabalov took the bonus $100 for a total of $1267, nudging out his rivals by half a tiebreak point.

Barnett, who turned 21 during the event, modestly attributed his success to his opponents “donking it”. Against GM Charbonneau, he said he was ready to resign if Pascal played a certain move; when the GM chose a different continuation, Barnett fought to a draw. His favorite game from the event was against IM Bryan Smith, in an opening that has given Barnett trouble in the past: The Sicilian Dragon.


Having lost some bad games to the Dragon before, Alex learned this early g2-g4 line from a friend of his and used it to good effect. Smith indicated that here on move 22 or 23, …Nxe4 draws.

After drawing GM Charbonneau in round four, Barnett faced off against FM Dov Gorman for a share of first place. Alex normally plays the Yudasin Sicilian with White, but having had some poor results recently, went for what he called a reversed English setup. It seems to have served him quite well.


There is a story behind Alex’s opening decisions. Since his first coach advised against class players studying openings, he never really learned theory. No longer a class player, he is pushing 2400 with his “figure it out” approach! (Barnett is 16 points shy of 2400 after his Atlantic Open rating bump.) Alex received chessbase as a present at some point, but it took him a year to get around to opening it.

GM Mark Paragua played a nice game against GM Fedorowicz in the last round to enter the winner’s circle.


After the 30th move, the notation was hard to decipher, but Black has insufficient compensation for the pawn and Paragua went on to win.

IM Oladapu Adu stormed to 3-0 and then reached 4/5 with two half-point byes on the final day. He was rewarded for his efforts with a share of the U2300 prize. Adu attributed his strong play to working harder than usual over the board and striving to calculate as deeply as possible. This was his favorite game of the tournament:


And White went on to win in almost 130 (!) moves.

Class section winners were as follows:
U1000: Travis J. Pape with the tournament’s only picket fence, 5-0
U1300: Helen Tran, Sun Lee Stechuk, Robert A. Yoffee, 4.5
U1500: Erik L. Blad, 4.5
U1700:John E. Guchemand, William Alston, 4.5
U1900: Daniel Solarez, Thomas Hoopergardner, 4.5
U2100: William Marcelino, Khine T. Kyaw, Leroy Hill, Majur Juac, Brian
S Li, all with 4/5

As always, Chief TD Steve Immitt ably directed the event. He was assisted by IA Sophia Rohde, NTD Ernie Schlich, NTD Harold Stenzel, STD James Cape, and TD Andrew Rea. Some players, myself included, took advantage of the opportunity to combine sightseeing with chess in a thoroughly fascinating city. I hope to be back next year!

See complete crosstable and prize payouts on the CCA website, and see USCF rated results on MSA.

Matan most recent CLO contribution was on Learning From Your Losses and his next wreport ill be on the New York State Open (September 3-6, Albany). If you are playing in a big Open tournament over Labor Day, send your impressions or games to CLO editor [email protected] for consideration in a series of round-up articles!