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National Chess Day from Alabama to Idaho Print E-mail
By CLO   
October 19, 2014
While hundreds of international stars and hopefuls came to Vegas over the weekend of October 10-12 for their crack at a 1 Million dollar prize fund, National Chess Day was celebrated by amateurs and masters in numerous other Grand Prixs and promotional events on Saturday, October 11, 2014.   Find a sampling of NCD events coast to coast below from Alabama to Idaho.

Three GMs Caucus For Victory At Washington Congress:  Kamsky Clinches Title

By Steve Immitt and Andy Rea

GMs Gata Kamsky, Oliver Barbosa and Sergey Erenburg each scored 5½ points in seven games at the Washington Chess Congress, which ended in Arlington, Virginia on Columbus Day.  Erenberg drew in Round 7 with GM Mikheil Kekelidze, while Barbosa defeated GM Mark Paragua. 

Kamsky let forth a real filibuster of a victory on Board 2 over 13-year-old Samuel Sevian, the youngest U.S. player ever to achieve a GM norm (when Sevian finished second this past January at the Foxwoods Open).  Their game, which went 72 moves, was one of the last to finish. 


He said it was important from the theoretical point of view and he illustrates very nicely how to win the Rook + Rook-pawn vs. Bishop ending.

The prize for tying for 1st-3rd was $1,688.34 each, although Gata managed to squeak by Barbosa with an extra 0.5 secondary tiebreak point to capture the additional $58 first Place Bonus Prize. His marathon 83-move draw against Erenburg in Round 5, which featured the interesting ending of B+N and 4 Pawns vs. Rook and 4 Pawns (all on the King side), likely contributed to his good tiebreaks.  Kekelidze, who scored 5-2, won $466 in a tie for 4th with Teofilo Mesa, an untitled player from the Dominican Republic whose impressive performance earned him the $1,164 Under 2300 prize. 

Here are two of Barbosa's key tournament victories:



12-year-old Jennifer Yu, who recently picked up a gold medal in South Africa, had a remarkable tournament. She scored 4 ½ points, defeating three Masters and recapturing the same title for herself in the process.  Her games drew praise from none other than Kamsky himself; the U.S. Champion evidently enjoyed her strategic sense balanced with her determined combativeness.  She contributed to an interesting juxtaposition of youth and experience when she tied for the 2nd Under 2300 prize with 76-year-old Boris Reichstein; they each won $436.50.
In the Under 2100 Section, the final round was no holds barred, as the players on the top three boards were all playing to win prize money.  Franco Jose proved to be the most successful-    his last-round victory propelled him into clear first with 6 points, and his $2,329 prize gave him the biggest payday of the entire tournament.  Robert J Fisher has certainly won his share of tournament prizes, but this time it was his lower-rated namesake who tied for 2nd-3rd, as both he and Doug Hyatt scored 5½ points and won $873 each.  Leo Rabulan and Paul Yavari both scored 5 points to tie for 4th, taking hom $262 a piece.  The Under 1900 prizes were split betwwen Abhinay Dommalapati, Alex Jian and Sam Schenk.  They each were rewarded with $582 for finishing with 4½ points. 

After winning his first six games, Aleksey Imaev had racked up such a commanding lead of the Under 1700 Section that even a loss in the last round didn't keep him from taking home the $1,746 first prize.  Douglas Malcolm and William Seife were right behind with 5½, with Douglas winning the $831 second prize while Seife received the $931 Top Under 1500 honors, catapulting his rating over 300 points, well into four digits.  A five-player logjam loomed half a point back:  Hercules Del Mundo, Chris Labrecque, Guillermo Huertas and Noel Lacsamana each won $247.50  Varun Vonteru and Jordan Anderson each won a $233 share of the 2nd Under 1500 prizes.

Andrew Granville ended up posting the sole sweep of the Holiday Weekend, picking up a cool $1,164 along with nearly 200 rating points.  William Garate did the next best thing, losing only to Granville while defeating all others.  He took the $582 second prize.  Three players scored 5 points: Muham Abdulmahbub and Eddy Tian each won $233, while Andrew Gong Wu won the $466 Under 1100 prize.  Edwin Lu was the only player to finish with 4½ points, and he won $116, while Win Persina and Madhumita Srinivasan each won $116.50 by divvying up the 2nd Under 1100 prize.

You had good reasons for at least cautious optimism if you were a player on one of the nine Mixed Doubles teams, competing for the four Mixed Doubles team prizes.  And justifiably so, as over half of the participants wound up with prizes in the team competition.  The team of Jennifer Yu and Justin Paul (average rating 2115) chalked up 9 points (out of a possible 14) to lay their claim on the first prize, but they were not alone.  The duo of Madhumita Srinivasan in the Under 1300 Section and GM Mikheil Kekelidze in the Premier Section (average rating 1693) also combined to score 9 points as well, giving each time a $465.50 share of the top two prizes.  Three more teams ended up a full point back:  Akshita Gorti and Ryan Xu (2093) combined score of 8 points threw them into a tie with Ella Papanek and Oliver Traldi (1932), along with the Dommalapati siblings, Aasa and Abhinay (1796.5).  Each team won $116.34.

On Saturday October 11th,Ralph Zimmer won the National Chess Day Game/10 with a perfect 4-0 sweep.  David M Bennett and Jimmie Beatty tied for 2nd with 2½ points. Ella Papanek and Nikolai Astrov shared the prizes for Top Under 1800 and Top Under 1500.

The Washington Congress Blitz took place the following day on October 12th.  GM Mikheil Kekelidze captured the $200 First Prize with 7½ points out of 8 games.  Ralph Zimmer finished in the money again on Sunday; this time he timed for 2nd with Anton Del Mundo.  They each won $50 for scoring 6-2.  Franco Jose, Robert Keough and Joseph Wen Yo Tan each scored 5 points to divvy up the $120 prize three ways.  Nathan Shuman, Andrew Granville and Peter Ren each finished with 3 points and $60, sharing in the Under 1900 and Under 1600 prizes.

162 entries, along with 4 additional re-entries, turned out for the main tournament, with Steve Immitt, Colonel Dave Hater and Andrew Rea directing for Continental Chess.

National Chess Day Scholastic in Alabama
by Michael Ciamarra


Alabama's National Chess Day Scholastic Open Section prizewinners with TD Caesar Lawrence.
BIRMINGHAM, Alabama - They came to celebrate National Chess Day in style.  Dozens of young chessplayers enthusiastically maneuvered their pieces, punched their chess clocks and, on occasion, announced ‘Mate!'

The Books-A-Million and Children's of Alabama Annual National Chess Day Scholastic Tournament was held at the Brookwood Village Mall, in Homewood, Alabama (a suburb of Birmingham). The five round event was open to all scholastic chess players (K-12) from area public and private schools and homeschool groups.

The tournament was held strategically around the food court area in the middle of the Mall.  You couldn't miss the tournament in progress and the table impressively arrayed with numerous trophies and chessmedals to be awarded! Throughout the day, hundreds of curious shoppers gathered to watch Alabama's up and coming young chess players compete for top places in their tournament sections.  Blitz and casual games were played on the side.

Alabama's National Chess Day Scholastic tournament, started five years ago, has been held at the Brookwood Village Mall each year.   Chess organizer and TD Caesar Lawrence believes holding the tournament in a well-traveled, public venue is an excellent way to promote chess.  "We always get questions from interested children and their parents about where to play and chess learning resources," Lawrence said. "Adults will come up to us during the day and tell us they are glad to see chess being played here and that they had played when younger."

In addition to scholastic players having a great time playing and promoting chess, the event helps other children's medical needs.  All entry fees and proceeds go to Children's of Alabama, a private, not-for-profit medical center helping injured and ill children throughout the southeastern U.S.

Issac Snow, a fifth grader from Calera, explained why he played in the event today, "Always a lot of fun to meet other players and I like to play attacking chess - especially the Max Lange Attack!" Issac played many online games for practice and solves chess puzzles to keep his chess skills sharp between tournaments.

Prize Winners

Open Section (K-12): 1st Place - Mohak Agarwalla; 2nd Place - Brooks Lovoy; 3rd Place - Zachary Snow; Gold - Sarvagna Velidandla; Silver - Atindrah Harishankar; Bronze - Anirudh Harishankar

Middle Section (K-6): 1st Place - Difei Zhu; 2nd Place - Sklyer Robinson; 3rd Place - Cooper McCombs; Gold (tied) - Benjamin Kennedy, Michael Kennedy; Silver (tied) - Richard Oehrlein, Nikhita Chintareddy; Bronze - Abhishek Emani

Novice (K-8): 1st Place - Sam Smith; 2nd Place - Luke Pinion; 3rd Place - Nathan Deese; Gold (tied) - Noah Knight, Annikah Mishra; Silver (tied) - William Gignilliat, Naomi Smitherman; Bronze - Pulak Agarwalla

Memphis, TN - All ‘Round Fun Time! 
by Korey Kormick
For the 2014 Editon of National Chess Day, Shelby County (TN) Chess decided to emphasize the wild & unpredictable side of the game - Blitz time controls - in that most traditional & equalizing format of tournaments - the Round Robin.  In two groups: USCF rated & unrated, participants got an understanding of endurance, a rush of adrenaline, and the excitement which comes as the tournament draws to a climactic finale.

As the players took to the boards, experienced hands let the pieces fly, while those inexperienced in the ways of the clock hesitantly remember to press the button.  Both sections had their share of drama. There were few surprises in the opening round, but after that, the upsets started in earnest.  Ben Johnson, seeded 7th in the Rated, started with a meteoric 5/6 before being brought back down to earth (finishing in 3rd place, 5/9).  On the other end of the spectrum was Sophia VanHorn, playing in only her second clocked tournament - two days after her first - who took some time to adjust to faster play... like losing her first five games, most of which were on time.  But she learned quickly, and rattled off four final victories to finish 4/9 and in a tie for 6th.

But not everyone was felled by the aspiring masses at their heels.  In the Unrated section, young Liam Leggett was dominant from the start - going a perfect 9/9.  It is without a doubt he'll be making waves in the USCF ranks soon.  In the Rated section, the battle for victory became a two-horse race, as Marshal Hayes had a brilliant tournament at 8/9, but couldn't outdo the 2014 TN Barber representative Devon Puckett and his perfect 9/9 clinic.  Not only did he win his games, he won them with a seeming effortlessness that indicates his skill above his already superior rating.
At the mid-point of the tournament, all players got together for a group photo & cake, realizing that the best way to share in something they love, regardless of the results over the board, was to be a part of an experience that all could share!  Until next time - Happy National Chess Day!!!

Los Angeles, California

9-year-old All-American team member Joaquin K. Perkins drew against FM Dayron Huertas in the National Chess Day weekender at the LA Chess Club.


ElPasoAlexeyRoot.gifEl Paso National Chess Day by Dr. Alexey Root, WIM

As previously reported in Chess Life Online
, libraries and chess make great partners. Five branches of the El Paso Public Library host weekly chess clubs. To celebrate National Chess Day, the Dorris Van Doren and Ysleta branches of the El Paso Public Library hosted "Chess in Libraries and Schools" presentations and book signings by Dr. Alexey Root. The Dorris Van Doren presentation, on October 10, got 25 participants. The Ysleta presentation attracted 55 participants on October 11. At the Ysleta branch, Dr. Root's presentation was followed by a 48-player chess tournament (with 32 players in the rated section). The presentations and the chess tournament were free, with the only requirement being USCF membership for those in the rated section. Both library branches provided free refreshments and chess tournament winners got chess medals.

On Facebook, "El Paso Chess Connection" posted 65 photos of the October 10-11 events as well as this note, "Special thanks goes out to John H. Faria, Debbie Garcia, Mike Mendiola, and Ruben Arzaga for their outstanding work behind the scenes to make this such a successful weekend for the El Paso Library and Chess Community." Funding was provided by the Friends of the Library groups associated with the Westside and Ysleta branches, with additional support by a group of El Paso lawyer-chessplayers and the El Paso Public Library system.


By Nic Weiss

Local GM Ben Finegold (in red) went 9/9 to win the National Chess Day Blitz Tournament against a field of 23 other players.

Saturday, October 11 was 2014 National Chess Day, and the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis celebrated the holiday with two tournaments: an afternoon rated-beginner's event, limited to players rated below 1300; and an evening of blitz chess, in a nine-round tournament open to everyone.

Twenty-four players, including seven unrated United States Chess Federation-newcomers, showed for NCD's rated-beginner tournament. The four-round event featured a prize fund of $150 for an entry fee of just $5 -- though it was free for all new USCF signups.

Despite a special $25 awarded to the best unrated player of the afternoon, Kannan Sundarresan decided to grab even more in his USCF kickoff. In his first tournament, Sundarresan went undefeated through four games, taking first place across the entire tournament as well as the additional $50 top prize.

"This was my first tournament, and it feels great to win!" said Sundarresan, who now sports a provisional rating of 2021. Following Sundarresan, seven players tied for second place with a 3/4 score: Thomas Amar, Azim Aziz, Adam Eubanks, Jared Howard, Tania Perez, Eliot Blackmoor and Daniel Bartz.

Some -- like former world champion Bobby Fischer -- are impervious to the charm of blitz chess. But those who came down to the Saint Louis Chess Club on National Chess Day agreed: Nine rounds of blitz equals nine times the fun.

The evening NCD Blitz tournament featured 23 players, a field headlined by the titles of GM Ben Finegold, NM Matt Larson and WIM Sue Maroroa.  As the only player bearing the elite title, world-class Grandmaster and commentator Finegold entered the event as the clear favorite -- and did not disappoint.

"He [Finegold] played my opening against me!" said James Ivy, a familiar face around the Chess Club and a strong proponent of Sokolsky's 1. b4.  Ivy, however, wasn't the only one shocked by the Grandmaster's bag of tricks. Finegold swept all nine rounds of the tournament, casually alternating between capturing his opponent's pieces and punching the clock, all the while taking sips of Perrier.

NM Matt Larsen held his own on board two, taking second place with 8/9 and only losing against his mentor Finegold. Senad Smajlagic, a strong Club Class A player, scored 7/9 to finish third.

Wood River in Idaho by Adam Porth

The Wood River Weekend Progressive, in Hailey, Idaho, commenced on National Chess Day, Oct. 11 and was a pleasant event for beginners and veterans alike.  This is the fifth year of the event with the Idaho Chess Association (ICA) participating in Co-sponsorship (except in 2011 &  2013).  Results from previous years include: 

2014  Jeff Roland (Open) & Dylan Porth (Reserve)
2013  Jarod Buus (Open) & Quentin Van Law (Reserve) (called National Chess Day)
2012  Caleb Kircher & Dan Sawyer (Open) & Jacob Nathan (Reserve)
2011  Adam Porth (Open)  & Desmond Porth (Reserve)
2010  Jeff Baggett (Open) & Nick Bruck (Reserve)
2009  Jeff Roland (Open) & Nick Bruck (Reserve)

This year, Jeff Roland was able to capture his second event title with Dylan Porth entering the fray in the reserve (scholastic) section.  The National Chess Day event has evolved into a challenging tournament with games getting progressively longer (G/30  -  G/90) as the rounds continue.

Endurance is a must!  I wonder what a reversed progressive would be like?

The BCSD Chess Rage strives to provide a variety of tournament types including Blitz, Bughouse, Chess960, opening theme tournaments, using swiss pairing and round-robins.  Progressive tournaments are not very common.  Education and experience is the primary goal of the club's tournaments.

Ten of the twenty players were from the Boise area and the rest were from the Wood River Valley.

The rated event is attractive to out-of-towners because of the Trailing of the Sheep festival provides players, friends, and family with an extravaganza of Basque and Peruvian sheep-herder culture and history.  There is sheep shearing and sheep dog demonstrations, music, dancing, and the running of the sheep through downtown Ketchum.  Food is exceptional with lamb-meat pizzas and mutton burritos.

The tournament began with players squaring off in a G/30 round.  After the games were all finished, Jarod Buus commented that the scholastic players in the open section should have been encouraged to "win some money and play in the reserve section."  Meaning, the high school players in the BCSD Chess Rage were very competitive and stretched the abilities of the veteran players.  It is tough to be a Class B or C player and lose or draw to a Class E or F player that are clearly underrated.

The largest upset occurred between Wesley Brimstein(846) and Cory Longhurst (1483).  After missing a mate in one opportunity, Wesley persevered and finally won with seconds on the clock.  With time controls becoming increasingly longer by ½ hour intervals, virtually no-one flagged during the tournament.  

In the reserve section, the games seemingly looked like a blitz tournament with scholastic players reacting with immediate moves.  Dylan Porth (9th grade), however, worked patiently with first time player, Abby Davis (1st grade) and helped her learn about openings and checkmates during and after the game.  In a surprise, Journey Iverson fell prey to Dennis Delaney in a variation of Scholar's Mate.  Even veteran players are caught off-guard by this sneaky opening where the queen and bishop (or the knight) work together to target black's f7 square.

The scholastic Reserve section finished early and games were paused in the Open section to clap and applaud the 11 scholastic players which won $50, $33, and $16 respectively for 1st - 3rd place. 

Dylan Porth (1st place), 3-way tie for 2nd place with Dennis Delaney, River Shepard, and Darwin Porth sharing the cash awards.  Players were also awarded plaques, ribbons, and medals for their 7 hour efforts.

When the Open section re-commenced, Jeff Roland was unstoppable and scored a perfect tournament (4.0 points).  Players from Boise rallied the Wood River hosts and also took 2nd place (Jarod Buus 3.0 points) and 3rd place (Corey Longhurst 2.5 points).   Cash prizes were $75, $50, and $35.  It wasn't a piece of the million-dollar tournament also being played in Las Vegas that weekend, but it certainly made for a great weekend in Wood River!

The BCSD Chess Rage wishes to thank the ICA and Jeff Roland for bringing a rated tournament to our area.


By Larry Storch 

ericcooke.gifThe Central Florida Chess Club sponsored its Orlando Autumn Open to coincide with the USCF's National Chess Day(October 10-12, 2014). With so many events occurring in September and October, including Florida's State Championship, Bill Goichberg's Southern Open and Maurice Ashley's Millionaire Chess tournament, our event had a decreased attendance. Nevertheless, the games were hard fought in all sections.

In the Open section Eric Cooke who was second ranked in USCF rating (2284) but top ranked in FIDE rating raced out to a 4-0 score. In the second round, Cooke knocked off his chief rival, top rated John Ludwig (2300). Cooke's path to first was made easier by upset losses suffered by masters Makaio Krienke (2229) to expert Andres Hernandez and FM Stephen Stoyko (2277) to Krienke. In round four, Krienke had a sure drawn ending against Cooke, but overestimated his chances and lost the Bishop vs. Knight Ending. The final round pairings had Cooke a clear point ahead of the field paired against Nick Moore (2073) on board one while Makaio Krienke's reward for his round four loss was to get black against Ludwig on board two. Krienke opened his game with 1.c4 h5!? and was summarily punished. Meanwhile, board one was a complicated Sicilian and the players agreed to a draw after almost four hours, giving Cooke the title.

Look for our next reports on the Millionaire Chess Open, which coincided with National Chess Day, by Alisa Melekhina, Kostya Kavutskiy and GM Cristian Chirila here on CLO. GM Daniel Naroditsky will report for the magazine.