Four GMs and a NM Top Bill Wright Saint Louis Open
By Brian Jerauld   
April 15, 2014
STLOpenlead.jpgFinally, the weather warmed and the sun said hello - but there were no walks in the park in Saint Louis last weekend.

Titles collided when more than 100 players turned out for the Chess Club and Scholastic Center's annual Bill Wright Saint Louis Open, one of the strongest and largest Open tournaments in Missouri - and this edition was no exception. The FIDE-rated, five-round swiss, held April 11-13, featured 20 titled players and seven Grandmasters who showed up to the Club's flagship open event - to fight over the lion's share of $10,000 guaranteed.

"Tournaments in Saint Louis used to be so easy," quipped GM Alejandro Ramirez, who was part of a five-way tie for first place, with 4.0/5. "Now it has flipped completely on its head. As Saint Louis continues as the center for chess in the U.S., now all the tournaments are becoming so strong. Even small weekend tournaments are getting great turnouts that make them so strong nowadays - and this one was definitely no exception.

"You see the Saint Louis Open with seven GMs - there are many countries who struggle to ever make a tournament with that many GMs. Saint Louis is able to do it any weekend they want."

Ramirez was, perhaps, the only "outsider" to the event: the Texas native was finishing a stint as the CCSCSL's Resident Grandmaster, with the Saint Louis Open falling on his final weekend. The tournament served as a first "tune up" event in a month-long preparation for his return to Saint Louis and the 2014 U.S. Championship, which the Club will host beginning May 7.

And the locals came out in full force to see him off.

Of highlight was the appearance of Webster University's national championship team, who descended on the Club in peak form - one week removed from defending the Saint Louis suburb university's collegiate crown at the 2014 President's Cup. GMs Georg Meier, Manuel Leon Hoyos, and Wesley So each tied with Ramirez for first place, with fellow Webster teammates GM Fidel Corrales Jiminez (3.5) and GM Anatoly Bykovsky (3.0) finishing just short. 

Illinois NM Dr. Tansul Turgut also tied for the Open's top prize.

The 2014 Saint Louis Open also featured local GM Ben Finegold, Lindenwood University IM Priyadharshan Kannappan, WGMs Viktorija Ni and Anna Sharevich, WIM Inna Agrest and an impressive array of regional National Masters. With so many titles, fantastic matchups were a mainstay throughout, including a third round that featured three GM vs. GM games - two of them resulting in full-pointers.

GM Ben Finegold, who will be a live commentator at the US Chess Championships next month, annotated some of the most interesting games for this report.

Meier,Georg - Hoyos,Manuel [B51]


Black has been a bit lagging in the deleopment department! Now Georg misses his chance to win brilliantly! [17.Nxe5!! dxe5 18.Qg3! f5 (18...Qxd5 19.Qxg4 Qxd2? 20.Rad1; 18...Bc8 19.Qxe5+ Be7 20.Qxg7 Qf6 21.Rfe1+; 18...Be7 19.Qxg4 0-0 20.c4+-) 19.h3!] 17...Qc8 White is still better, but black was able to draw in 36 moves. ½-½

Bykhovsky,Anatoly - So,Wesley [D46]

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 d5 4.Nc3 c6 5.e3 Nbd7 6.Qc2 Bd6 7.Be2 dxc4 8.Bxc4 0-0 9.0-0 b5 10.Bd3 Bb7 11.Ne4?

There are three moves white has tried often at the Super-GM level... 11.a3, 11.e4, and 11.Rd1. Normally, white doesn't play Ne4 so quickly, unless black forces it with b4.
11...Nxe4 12.Bxe4 f5 13.Bd3 c5
Fidel Corrales must have been interested in this position, since he has won with black here before!

Also played by Corrales opponent! This game reminds me of the famous Aronian-Anand game from 2013. Black has a ton of activity, and does not worry about losing the b5 pawn, since his bishops are pointing toward the kingside, and the Bc1 and Ra1 are not playing.

A novelty! Corrales played 14...cxd4 15.exd4 Bd5 and eventually won.
Already the losing move! 15.Qb3 was forced.
15...cxd4 16.Qd1 d3!
Perhaps Anatoly overlooked this nice trick.

17.Qxd3? Bxf3! 18.gxf3 (18.Qxf3 Nxe5 19.Qe2 Nxd3 20.Qxd3 Bxh2+) 18...Bxh2+! 19.Kxh2 Qh4+ 20.Kg2 Qg5+ 21.Kh2 Rf6 mating.
17...Nc5 18.Qd1 Bxf3! 19.Bxf3 bxa4

Black has an extra pawn and a better position.
20.g3 Be5 21.e4 fxe4 22.Bg4 Bd4 23.Rxa4??


Better was... 23.Be3 Bxe3 (23...Bxb2? 24.Bxc5 Rxc5 25.Bxe6+ Kh8 26.Qxd8 Rxd8 27.Rxa4³) 24.Qxd8 Rcxd8 25.fxe3 Rxf1+ Black should probably win this endgame, but at least white has some chances.
23...Nxa4 24.Bxe6+ Kh8 25.Bxc8 Rxf2! 26.Qxa4


26.Be3 Bxe3!! 27.Qxd8+ Rf8+ 28.Kg2 Rxd8


27.Qxd4 Rxf1+ 28.Kg2 Rxc1; 27.Bf4 Rxf4+ 28.Qxd4 Rxf1+ 29.Kg2 Rc1
27...Rf1+ 28.Kg2 Qf3+ 29.Kh3 Qh5+

White resigned due to 30.Kg2 Rf2+ 31.Kg1 Qxh2 mate. A brilliant last round effort from Wesley. 0-1

Corralles,Fidel - So,Wesley [C15]


This position is dynamically balanced.

Black needed to trade queens to beat off the attack with 26...Nf8! 27.h5 Qe3 28.Qxe3 Rxe3=
27.h5 gxh5 28.Qxh5 g6 29.Rh6 Kg7 30.Qe3 Nxg5!

The best practical try!
31.Qxe7 Bxe7 32.fxg5 Bxg5 33.Rh3 bxc3 34.bxc3 Rb2 35.Ba4 Re6 36.Bd7 Ra6 37.Be8 f5?

Surprisingly, the black king is in more danger with the pawn on f5!

38.Rfh2!? Raxa2 39.Rh7+ Kf6 40.Rg2! Rb1+ 41.Kf2 Rb8 42.Bf7! Rb7 43.Bxg6 Rxe2+ 44.Kxe2 Rb2+ 45.Kf3 Rxg2 46.Kxg2 Kxg6 47. Rxa7 is a long forcing variation, where white has winning chances, but black has good drawing chances as well!
38...Bd2 39.a4 Rb1+ 40.Kf2 Be1+?

40...Td1! with the idea of playing Rd3 or Rd2 after Be1+ 41.Rg1 Rxg1 42.Nxg1 Te6 43.Bb5²
41.Kf3 Rb3? 42.Rgh2!

Now white's attack is irresistible.
42...Bxc3 43.Rh7+ Kf8

43...Kf6 44.Tf7+ Kg5 (44...Ke6 45.Nxc3 Rxc3+ 46.Kf4 g5+ 47.Kxg5 Rg3+ 48.Kf4 Rg4+ 49.Kf3+-) 45.Rg2+ Kh6 46.Nxc3 Rxc3+ 47.Kf4+-


Instead white wins with 44.Rh8+! Ke7 45.Kf4 Bd2+ 46.Ke5 Re3+ 47.Kxd5 Rd6+ 48.Kxc4

44...Bb4+ 45.Kf2 Re6 and black should draw!
45.Nxc3! Rxc3+ 46.Kf4

Now it's easy
46...Rd3 47.Rh8+


The U2000 section featured 60 players and several outstanding efforts over the weekend. Dean Arond was the surprise of the section, a class B player (1783) out of Illinois who took first place with 4.5/5, including 3.5 points taken from Class A players - three of them above 1900. Three days in Saint Louis added 117 points to his rating.

Arond's only draw of the day came against Alex Vergilesov (1994), who also scored 4.5/5 to split the U2000 top prize. Vergilesov entered as the second-highest rated player in the section, and earned his final point in an impressive fifth-round thrashing of Adil Skuka - the section's highest-rated player (1998). Skuka finished in third place (4.0/5), with four others.


"With more than 100 participants and 20 titled players, this installment of the Saint Louis Open was one of our most successful ever," said CCSCSL executive director Tony Rich. "It's exciting to see a growing interest in tournament chess in St. Louis and across the country as a whole."

Find full results on the STL Chess Club website. Also be sure to bookmark, to follow all the details of the US Chess Championships and US Women's at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis next month.