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Baniel is Champion, Dulger Makes History Print E-mail
By Andres D. Hortillosa   
June 13, 2008
Baniel playing against Robert Bucholtz in the fourth round.  
Photo and article courtesy of Andres D.Hortillosa of www.USMilitaryChess.org  Army Specialist Jhonel Baniel defeated the Air Force surgeon  Dr. (Colonel) Samuel Echaure in the last round to earn 5.5 points and secure top honors at the 2008 Armed Forces Interservice Chess Tournament (Arizona, June 9-14).  Baniel's name will be forever etched in the military chess record books alongside world famous players like IM Emory Tate. Here is the game that did it:


Elena Dulger in her fourth round game against Christopher King

The sensation of the tournament was Elena Dulger of the Air Force, who finished in clear second. For the first time ever, a woman player makes the roster of the US Armed Forces Chess Team for the NATO Chess Championship in Brussels, Belgium. IM Elisabeth Paehtz represented Germany last year. Here is Dulger's fifth round win:


Other team members for the prestigious NATO event are: Tech Sgt. Robert A. Bucholtz (Air Force), Lt. Commander Paul L. Choate (Navy), and Corporal Carrelli (Marines). The last spot is being determined this very moment by a playoff match between MSgt. Dan P. Ranario (Air Force) and Captain Christopher Pitts (Army).

The unique rules for determining the composition of the team call for a playoff match between the 5th and 6th finishers if not all services have a player in the top four. The Marine qualifier, Corporal Donald Carelli, finished 12th but because each service must be represented by its top scorer, he makes the team.

This scheme puts players who finish in 4th, 5th and 6th places, respectively, in a playoff scenario. If the team is chosen by the order of their respective standings, the members would be in this order: Baniel (Army), Dulger (Air Force), Bucholtz (Air Force), Ranario (Air Force), Pitts (Army) and Choate (Navy). In this configuration, two are Army, three are Air Force and just one Navy will comprise the team.

The Air Force bested the Army for the team championship by one point, Air Force totaled 26.5 points and the Army totaled 25.5 points. Had West won his struggle against Adkins, the team event for this year would have been tied between the two perennial rivals at 26.5 points each. The Navy finished in the distant third with 11.5 points. The Marines with just two players finished with 6.5 points.

For more from Andres Hortillosa on military chess happenings, check out his blog on Monroi.com. IM Ray Robson has also started blogging for monroi.com!