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Chess in the Land of the Delta Blues Print E-mail
By Korey Kormick   
June 29, 2012
Reserve Co-Champion Kamron Jafari (left) & 2012 US Amateur South Champion George Woodbury (right) pictured with their Coach, IM Jake Kleiman (center)
For the second year in a row, the US Amateur South Championship was held in Memphis, Tennessee.  Top seed George Woodbury III held serve with a perfect score in the Championship (U2200) section, while the Reserve (U1600) was hotly contested and the top prize shared between Kamron Jafari & Hayden Henson.  Drawing players from nine states, this National Title event achieved in bringing together participants who are hungry for the game, ambitious for success, and looking for the challenges of the unknown.  

George Woodbury III, a rising Sophomore at the University of Chicago, is contesting the stereotype of the chessplayer who gives up the game after his time on the Scholastic Circuit.  In-between his studies, he has participated in the collegiate club and still found time to keep his game polished & notably sharp.  Players asserted that his no-nonsense style & solid technique won him his title.

The Reserve section was characteristic of many under sections: more upsets than expected results, with players regularly coming out of the tournament hall shaking heads & asking "what was his rating again?”

With the top five boards in Round One drawing or going down in defeat, everyone knew that the tournament was anyone’s to win.  Kamron Jafari, who studies with Mid-South Chess (Coached by Memphis’ own International Master Jake Kleiman), took a more traditional approach of jumping into the lead & holding it with two solid draws approaching the finish line. 

Hayden Henson, after holding the top seed in the section to an opening round draw, had to play up for most of the event (rated only 1257, his post-event rating jumped to 1435!), yet he still needed to produce a clutch victory in the last round to make a fitting finale to his run.


The Organizers thank the University of Memphis School of Hospitality for providing an excellent site: clean restrooms, glass goblets with oft-refilled water stations, & an extensive lunch buffet available on-site at a reduced rate for tournament participants.  Senior Tournament Director William Nash from Alabama ensured proper playing conditions in the hall at all times.  In addition to the “River Cup” championship trophy and plaques for other top places, all prize-winners received Gift Certificates from Cajun Chess.                     
Visiting guests to the US Amateur South: GM Kacheishvili, GM Hess, & IM-elect Coleman (standing, left to right) observe games in progress in the main hall. Reserve Co-Champion Hayden Henson also pictured (seated, right, in red shirt)