Kraai & Sevillano Share 1st in Calgary; Bonus Prize Discourages Draws
By GM Jesse Kraai   
June 6, 2011
Alberta has two full time chess clubs, one in Edmonton and one in Calgary. And each of these clubs holds a tournament every year to give their young talent a chance to play against higher rated opposition. This year, Calgary native Eric Hansen was the favorite. Eric arrived to the tournament having just earned a place at the World Cup by winning the Canadian Closed Championship. Luckily for us, Eric was still a little tired from that event! We also had to contend with the talented twelve-year-old Richard Wang, who is also an Albertan native. I suspect we’ll see much more of Richard in the future, especially after he learns that IMs and GMs are actually just chumps and don’t need to be given any respect.

Top row: Knut Neven, Eric Hansen, Jacek Stopa, Jesse Kraai, Tony Ficzere (Arbiter). Bottom: Daniel Kazmeier, Enrico Sevillano, Michael Langer, Edward Porper, Dale Haessel. And seated is young star Richard Wang.

The tournament was made particularly interesting by the David Ottosen prize. David is a poker player and chess fan who, like many, is dismayed by the amount of draws he sees in chess. So he did something about it. He offered to bump the prize fund by an additional 1000 dollars if 66% of our games were decisive. It’s hard to say how this kind of motivation affects a players judgment. I certainly wasn’t able to do a cost/benefit analysis while I was playing. But peer pressure was upon us all: don’t show your face in the analysis room if you drew! It must have had some kind of effect, because we made it, exactly.

The key game of the tournament was Kraai-Sevillano. Enrico and I have played many times. I like the overall strategy that Enrico took in this game: he accepted a slightly worse position with less space, but no weaknesses. Such a game will be long and chances will arise for the patient player.


In the final round I was able to catch Enrico by beating Eric Hansen while Enrico was held to a draw by local Dale Haessel. Enrico could do nothing against Haessel’s Petroff. And with this game Dale earned his first IM norm. Congratulations Dale!


I have played in one tournament a year in Alberta since 2006, and all of them have been very well organized. Tournament organizer and arbiter, Tony Ficzere, and Alberta Chess executive director Vlad Rekhson make running such a tournament look easy. Valuable help was also given by Jim Daniluk and Frank Kluytmans. The organizers even helped me realize a dream of mine: to ride my bike along the Icefields Parkway, 480 miles in five days through the Canadian Rockies. Glaciers, 3 black bears, one grizzly, elk, loads of deer, the trip surpassed all of my expectations.

Tournament website: