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Erenburg and Mitkov Top Cleveland Print E-mail
By Joe Fogarty   
June 17, 2008
There are many cities throughout the US that boast prominent cultures, rich histories, and enough events and activities to keep a visitor occupied for months on end.  There are also cities that boast run down factories, exhaustingly inconsistent weather patterns, rivers polluted enough to ignite and burn for hours, and 45 years without a national sports title.  Any remotely optimistic resident will proudly say that Cleveland is the epitome of both descriptions.

Luckily, there is one sporting phenomenon that has made a triumphant return to Cleveland, as the first USCF sanctioned Cleveland Open of chess took place on the weekend of June 13 – June 15.  With a total participation of nearly 200 players, the field was as large as it was diverse, as Cleveland’s mix of every ethnicity, sex, and age group one can imagine were all in attendance.  Some of the highlights of this field included some of the country’s most well known GMs, such as Shabalov, Mitkov, Erenburg, and Kolev.  The age spectrum can be seen in the field as IM Calvin Blocker and GM Anatoly Lein, two of the most highly respected players in Ohio, play alongside with the rising stars like Michael Vilenchuk, Srikar Varadaraj, and Kris Meekins.  I attempted to capture the humor of the field by taking a picture of the first round matchup between Lein and Varadaraj, but I cowered away when at least one of the players was visibly and animatedly displeased by my attempt to take the picture.  Could this be the beginning of a long illustrious career as a hated member of the paparazzi?  I will keep you updated.

Although there were some clear obstacles (most of them in the humorous forms of a barking dog, frigid temperatures, an incessant siren-like alarm, and an obnoxious walkie-talkie device), the event could not have rolled along very much smoother.  Granted, as the clear winner of the Under 1800 section, I am probably a little on the biased side towards enjoyment of the tournament.

Top seed for the tournament, GM Alexander Shabalov was off to a solid start, winning his first three games, including wins over the respectable Anatoly Lein and the lovable Carl Boor.  However, a fourth round draw with GM Nikola Mitkov and a fifth round loss to GM Sergey Erenburg left Shabalov out of the money with 3.5 points.  First prize in the open section was ultimately split between Erenburg and Mitkov, each of whom scored 4.5.  Third place was split between Justin Daniel (2251) and the twin assassins out of PA, Mark and Alex Heimann.  The top performing Ohio natives were Blocker, Lein, Oliver Koo, Bill Wright, and John Stopa.

The Under 2000 section was a very interesting one to watch and it resulted in a three way tie for first (4/5) between Boguslaw Woycieszyk, Brian Garwood, and Jeff Levine, who was forced to overcome a first round loss by winning his remaining four games.

 Due to a series of crushing and often humiliating scholastic results in April and May, I was able to slip into the Under 1800 section with a supplement rating of 1798.  The ego boost of seeing my name appear at the top of the list, not to be confused with the “eggo” boost from eating waffles every morning of the tournament, proved to be enough for me to coast into a clear first with 4.5/5.  The second place prize was split between Ian Edgerle, Evan Ashton, and Dimitrios Kosteris.  My games included a dubious bishop for three pawns sacrifice as well as achieving strong positions against the French Defense in two separate games, thus contributing significantly to my ultimately lifetime goal of refuting the French Defense entirely.  In the meantime, I can use my $1200 paycheck as an excuse to stop looking for a summer job and start sleeping in until noon as opposed to 11:30.

Big congratulations also go out to the other tournament victors.  The U1600 event was won by William Buckingham, Wayne Grant, and Roger Carey; the U1400 section was won by Adia Onyango and Jiawei He; the U1200 section was won by Dominic Kimerly; the U1000 section was won by Nathan Ferris and Francisco Oliveras; and the U800 event was won by Nathan Ferris, Timothy Quinlan, and Andrew Garvin.