Four GMs Tie in Saint Louis Open
By Mike Wilmering   
April 12, 2010
GM Josh Friedel at the Saint Louis Open, Photo Betsy Dynako
SAINT LOUIS, APRIL 12, 2010 – The Bill Wright Saint Louis Open, the strongest open tournament in the history of Missouri, has wrapped up at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis. When the final kings were tipped, four GMs, Hikaru Nakamura, Robert Hess, Josh Friedel and Alejandro Ramirez, sat atop the leader board to split the top prize ($512.50 each). Click here for the final standings.

The round four match between Hess and GM Dmitry Gurevich was equal throughout, but Hess got a slight advantage late and was able to convert the victory and climb atop the leader board with a 4/4 score. Ramirez defeated IM Irina Krush in round four to jump into a first-place tie with Hess.
WIM Alisa Melekhina and GM Ben Finegold, Photo Betsy Dynako

WIM Alisa Melekhina pulled off an upset victory in round four over GM Ben Finegold. Although Finegold was down a pawn and the exchange, he fought hard, and it seemed his experience might overwhelm the up-and-coming Melekhina. Time trouble for Finegold and Melekhina's accurate play helped her pull off an impressive victory and gave her a score of 3.5/4.


"Alisa misplayed the opening slightly, and I went overboard trying to punish her for it and lost as a result," Finegold said. "It was like both of my marriages."

Nakamura recovered from his round three draw against WIM Iryna Zenyuk to defeat WIM Tatev Abrahamyan in round four. In other crucial games, Ramirez won against Krush, Friedel defeated Zenyuk and Amanov topped young upstart Daniel Gurevich.


Five GMs: Ben Finegold, Dmitry Gurevich, Hikaru Nakamura and Alejandro Ramirez, Photo Betsy Dynako

After a quick, round-five draw between co-leaders GM Hess and GM Ramirez, the door was opened for four remaining players to climb into a tie for the tourney lead.

GMs Nakamura, Friedel, Amanov and WIM Melekhina all sat with 3.5/4 heading into round five.
WIM Alisa Melekhina and GM Hikaru Nakamura, Photo Betsy Dynako

Melekhina faced another daunting task against Nakamura, but the Cinderella story came to a close as the reigning U.S. Champion defeated Melekhina to move into a tie for first.


Amanov took on Friedel in round five, and the final match between the GMs proved pivotal as the winner would make it a four-way split. Friedel's solid play wore Amanov down, and once he got into time trouble, Friedel was able to secure the victory.


GM Josh Friedel with his opponent GM Megsen Amanov gaining a fresh perspective, Photo Betsy Dynako

Unrated Mark Ferber, originally from the Philippines, took the reserve U1800 class by storm with a perfect 5/5 score. Ferber’s provisional rating after the tournament sits at 2210. Spencer Finegold and Vikram Arun tied for the first-place U2000 prize, and each took home $250. Arun defeated young upstart Daniel Gurevich in the final round to secure the tie.

Daniel and his mother, Inga Gurevich, flew in from Atlanta for this tournament after hearing abut the CCSCSL from a club member three weeks prior at the Mid-America Open in Saint Louis. She said they plan on coming out to Saint Louis for more tournaments in the future and would definitely be attending the $10,000 Thanksgiving Open in November. Her son, Daniel, has a rating of 2136 and is now one of the top players in Atlanta, so Inga said they are forced to seek out stronger tournaments at other venues throughout the country. The club in Saint Louis, she said, exceeded their expectations.

"This is the best club in the country," she said. "It's amazing! It's so well done."

Daniel Gurevich performed well throughout the tournament and got the opportunity to play against GM Amanov. He had a shot at the money in the last round, but his loss to Arun in round five left him without monetary compensation. The experience to play a grandmaster, however, was a nice bonus for the young expert.

Missouri residents Ron Luther, Bob Holliman and Ben Inskeep from Indiana tied for the U2300 prize and took home $250 each.

Tournament turn-out was the best the club had ever seen, and the field represented the strongest the CCSCSL had ever hosted outside of the U.S. Championships.

The next major undertaking for the club is the 2010 U.S. Championship, scheduled May 13-25, and the $10,000 Championship Blitz Open on May 24 , which will feature U.S. Championship competitors and some of the strongest blitz players from across the country.

Check out the MSA on the USCF website and look for more news on upcoming tournaments on the CCSCSL homepage.

Photo Gallery by Betsy Dynako

Margaret Hua and James Larkin Smith, Missouri's Denker Rep.

GM Alejandro Ramirez and Yun Fan

Irina Krush and Iryna Zenyuk

CCSCSL founder Rex Sinquefield

Jim Voelker, CCSCSL board member

GM Ben Finegold with WIM Tatev Abrahamyan

GM Hikaru Nakamura and WIM Iryna Zenyuk

IM Irina Krush