Update From Vancouver: Denker & Barber at the Half
By Randy Hough   
August 6, 2012
The Denker Tournament of High School Champions and its Barber K-8 counterpart have reached the halfway point in Vancouver, Washington. The Denker has substantially followed the form indicated in our earlier preview article; the Barber…not so much!

The heavy Denker favorite, IM Darwin Yang of Texas, leads the small group of 3-0 scores, fresh from a win over tenth seed Kevin Cao who misplayed a tough ending in time pressure.


Second seed Atulya Shetty of Michigan kept pace in another time pressure-influenced contest.


Also at three points are Indiana’s Sean Vibbert (who downed Eldon Nakagawa of Hawaii, an earlier upset winner over Tommy Ulrich) and Walker Griggs from Ohio (defeating Alexandra Botez, who had upset Joshua Mu in Round 2). Third seed Michael Brown of Southern California, who yielded a half-point to Nevada’s Raymond Seid in the first round, leads the 2½ point group.

The original Barber favorite, James Black, canceled at the last minute (The New York State Chess Association replaced him, which has not always happened in such cases.) That left Minnesota’s Andrew Tang as top-rated…and he lost to another A. Tang (Arthur, from New Hampshire) in the first round! Kapil Chandran of Connecticut was the next top seed, but out of the opening in Round 3 he missed a tactical shot by New Jersey’s Praveen Balakrishnan:


(A number of the Barber participants played in the National Junior High last April, and readers may recall a similar trick in a critical game.)

Balakrishnan is joined at 3-0 by 12-year-old FM Tommy He of Texas, who emerged on top in a tactical French against Colorado’s Jackson Chen and converted a pawn-up queen ending.


The third Barber player with a perfect score is Michigan’s Jalen Wang. This time it’s Black who has the better tactics in a French.

Stay tuned as the Tournaments of Champions conclude with two rounds Monday and one Tuesday. The Girls Tournament is led by Alexandra Wiener and Stephanie Shao with  2½ of 3. And a cautionary tale from the Barber: one player decided to punish his opponent for not resigning by unnecessarily queening several pawns. You guessed it -- the game ended in stalemate! Whether out of charity or late night fatigue, the names of the miscreants will be withheld.

GM Seirawan from June 2012 Karpov match, courtesy Saint Louis Chess Club
And finally, there’s the tournament Main Event, the 113th U.S. Open. The traditional one game a day schedule also began Saturday night, with GM Yasser Seirawan playing in his first U.S. swiss tournament since 2001. His Round 2 win is a typical example of what happens when a GM faces a 2000 player. Under pressure, Open veteran Mennella goes fatally awry on move 27, outcalculated by Yasser.


The second Traditional seed, the untitled but very strong Yaccov Norowitz, is also in the 2 point group along with GM Dmitry Gurevich; IMs Sal Bercys, Michael Mulyar, and Ray Kaufman; Masters Steven Breckinridge, Nick Raptis, Patrcja Labedz, Francisco Guadalupe II, Cornelius Rubsamen, Michael Langer, Alfred Pechisker, Joshua Sinanan, James MacFarland, Daniel Gay, Peter Prochaska…and about 20 Experts…but it’s late and some games are still going at this writing! When the six- and four-day schedules begin, there will be well over 450 players, a strong showing by recent standards.

The Open’s return to the Northwest after 25 years has been a great success so far. Stay tuned for more news from Vancouver as the invitationals wind down and the US Open picks up.

Follow US Open pairings and results and find live and archived games at Monroi and find Denker results and pairings, Barber pairings and Girls pairings.