Antal Tops Tournament of College Champs
By Erik Patchell   
August 5, 2009
IM Gergely Antal poses with Denker Champ Abby Marshall at the Closing Ceremony, Photo 
IM Gergely Antal of Texas Tech successfully navigated a thunderstorm, a ceiling leak, a fire alarm, and four other IMs to claim the World Chess Live Tournament of College Champions at the U.S. Open. In his dramatic last round game against Marko Zivanic of UTD, he sacrificed a pawn in the early middlegame and managed to land a protected pawn on f6, thus cramping Black’s kingside.  The queens and minor pieces came off soon after, and Antal was able to grind Zivanic down in a long rook endgame.

The other championship game, Stopa-Bercys, ended in a fighting draw just earlier.  After a tense middlegame, with both players shuffling and reshuffling their pieces, Stopa finally opened up the position with c5, leading to some sharp tactical play.  Bercys defended well, and I thought even stood better at one point, but the game ultimately petered out into a draw.  Bercys was unfortunate to have to play all of his games against his peers (2450+) as Black.

I had the honor of playing Stopa in the 5th round and played just about the quietest and safest queen’s gambit line I could think of, trying to keep the game simple and not lose too quickly.  I have had success in this line against players rated up to 2300, but on move 23 I once again found myself on the receiving end of a puzzle.  See if you can calculate this one all the way out to the end, I certainly wasn’t able to.  I was able to win my last round game to finish with a respectable 4/6 and claim the U2200 prize.
Black to Move and Win

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Something extremely odd occurred on one of the lower boards this last round.  As the rainstorm picked up, the sound of running water spread through the playing hall and Kenneth Kuo from Notre Dame was barely able to dodge the sudden downpouring of gallons of rainwater onto his chair.  Perhaps it sharpened his senses a bit as he went on to claim first prize in the U1300 section.
IM Daniel Fernandez had a disappointing tournament but was able to right the ship after catching Joe Fogarty from Case Western in a quiet variation of the King’s Indian.

I had a fantastic time at this tournament and would like to encourage all chess players attending, or soon to be attending college, to come to this tournament.  There is a somewhat large guaranteed prize fund, and as an added bonus, entry to the U.S. Open is half price to collegiate players this year.  The tournament was very well run and the facilities (except perhaps for a small portion of the ceiling!) were also very nice.  I would like to thank James Stallings for organizing the tournament and World Chess Live for their sponsorship.  As Mr. Stallings put it at the prize ceremony, the tournament is still in a “growth curve”, so we can hope participation continues to increase in upcoming years.

The group of college players at the closing ceremony, Photo