Mixed Double Prizes a Big Hit at New Yorker Open
By Steve Immitt   
June 4, 2012
Nyerslide.jpgThe New Yorker Open, a $10,000 guaranteed prize fund tournament (May 25-28) held in downtown Manhattan featured an exciting new tournament dynamic that drew more women to the event.  

We debuted Mixed Doubles Bonus prizes, special bonus prizes awarded only to the two players on the three top-scoring Mixed Doubles Teams.  The Mixed Doubles Bonus had no effect on any individual prizes you might also win in the tournament, and the average rating of each Mixed Double team had to be Under 2200.

I believe the New Yorker Open this year was the first major tournament to offer Mixed Doubles Bonus Prizes in an otherwise "standard" Swiss tournament. We had over 17 Mixed Doubles Teams, out of about 189 total players.

GMs Joel Benjamin and Anatoly Bykhovsky tied for first with 5.5/7 while Aleksandr Ostrovskiy & Alexandra Wiener tied for the mixed doubles competition with Akshita Gorti & Malik Perry. See full standings and prize payouts here.

Hikarusimul400.jpg
Aleksandr Ostrovskiy gained over 40 points in the tournament to bring him up to 2426. He also recently drew against GM Hikaru Nakamura in a simul in New York City (pictured above.) Ostrovskiy sent CLO his favorite game from the New Yorker Open, a win over Markzon:



On Monday morning before the penultimate round I asked all the women in the tournament room to raise their hands if they were on a Mixed Doubles Team.  It looked like all of them raised their hands, even including ladies who might be mothers and grandmothers.  I then asked them how many of them had been asked by someone else, besides their current teammate, to be on a Mixed Doubles Team, and it looked like almost all the hands remained raised.  A bunch of players applauded them when they saw this.   

One lady showed up and said that she was entering the tournament because her son talked her into playing in the tournament on his team.  She had never played in a tournament before and joined the USCF for the first time.  In the first round, she won against a player rated under 1000. She said that was the first time she had ever won a game of chess (she always lost to her son before)-- and it occurred in the first game she played in her first rated tournament.

One man was on a Mixed Doubles Team with his wife, and saw someone point to his wife and say something to another player.  The other player said, "Don't bother, she's already taken."
One girl was overheard saying to a prospective teammate, "No, it's 60% for me and 40% for you."

One player lost his first game, and then re-entered the tournament.  He then came up with a rather brilliant strategy which I had never even considered.  He asked his opponent to be on his Mixed Doubles Team, because he said she must be pretty good to beat him. They both ended up tying for First Place, Mixed Doubles Team.  The other team which tied for First consisted of an FM and a player rated 1873. Each of these four players won an additional $188, for which they paid nothing extra.
 
It was getting close to the Round 4 deadline for declaring who is on your Mixed Doubles Team. One player, rated over 2200, was virtually running around the tournament area looking for a teammate.  He finally went up to a group of total strangers and asked them if they would help him find a much lower-rated player  to be on his Mixed Doubles Team.

One girl originally signed up with a Mixed Doubles teammate who was an A-player.  Before the Round 4 deadline she traded him for a teammate rated over 2200.  The  A-player was unable to find a replacement, so he had to forego the Mixed Doubles Team prizes and instead focus solely on his individual competition,  Later on, the Master also withdrew from the tournament himself, and in an ironic twist of circumstance also erased his teammate's hopes for improved chances for a  Mixed Doubles prize.  And the A-player was able to bounce back anyway, winning an individual prize anyway!
 
 Everyone I asked, and many more who I didn't ask, said that the Mixed Doubles Prizes were really great. 
 
When I told them I would be having them in all of my upcoming tournaments, including my weekly Thursday Night 4 Rated Games Tonight! Action Tournaments, at the New Yorker Hotel, across the street from Penn Station in Manhattan they all said they couldn't wait and that they and their Mixed Doubles Teammate friends would all be entering.

Here are the exact rules :
1. Two players, who are in the tournament, besides competing for whatever individual prizes they can, also compete for the optional Mixed Doubles Team prizes.  No extra cost to compete for Mixed Doubles prizes (both players just have to enter the tournament and tell us who their Mixed Doubles Teammate is).

2. Average rating of both players must be Under 2200.

3. Players may play in different sections or the same section (teammate pairings are avoided, but possible).

4. Teams must commit by Round 4 (that really becomes interesting when one player is in the 4-Day Schedule and his teammate is in the 2-Day Schedule).

5. First Place, Mixed Doubles Team: $500
    Second Place, Mixed Doubles Team: $250
    Third Place, Mixed Doubles Team: $150

For more thoughts on bringing women into the game, see Women Talk Chess: Beating the Boys,    a video which just debuted on the new USCF YouTube channel.