Becerra Triumphs In Southern Open
By Steve Immitt   
September 25, 2014
GM Julio Becerra won the 22nd edition of the Southern Open, held September 19-21 in Orlando. 

After dispatching his first four opponents, Becerra led the field by half a point going into the last round against GM Julio Sadorra. The matchup between the two GM Julios on Board One continued well after most of the other games had finished, but they finally conceded the mutual half point. As the sole finisher with 4½ points, Becerra won the $1,595 First Prize and the $89 First Place Bonus Prize as well.  

Check out two wins by each of the Julios. 



GM Mikheil Kekelidze, one of Becerra’s victims (Round 4) was nevertheless victorious in his other four games, which gave him sole claim to the $798 Second Prize.  Julio Sadorra finished the event with 3½ points, along with three other Masters: John Ludwig, Mariano Acosta and Wilmer Chavira.  They each won $443.

Juan Tica and Mario Marshall had each won their first four games in the Under 2100 Section, and it was still up in the air when they split the point in Round 5 just how many others would be joining them in the Winners’ Circle.  As it turned out later, no one else did and they each won $903.50 in the two-way tie for 1st-2nd.  A five-player logjam did result half a point back, however, with Nickolas Moore, Truman Hoang, Jason Kammerdiner and Kai Tabor each winning $132.75, while young Roshan Jayaraman took home the $532 Under 1900 prize instead. Andrew Browne, Rainer Selva and James A Kirk each won an $88.67 share of the Second Under 1900 prize for scoring 3½ points.

In the Under 1700 Section, 4½ points was once again the magic number, and this time it belonged to two players whose lone draw was not with each other.  Pierre Rodriguez and Brandon Peckham both won their last-round games to tie for 1st-2nd, taking home $797.50 a piece.  Another five-player logjam loomed half a point back this time as well:  Clayton Nicol, Daniel Rhenals, Kevin Beal, Christian Rodriguez and Timothy Chen each won $88.60 as a result.  Pranav Abbaraju and Joseph Teixeira each posted 3½ points to share equally in the $531 Under 1700 prizes.

The sole Southern Open sweep went to Gary Robinson in the Under 1300 Section.  His unblemished performance earned him $532.  The three players who scored 4-1, Lonnie Parnell, Valentina Bermudez and Larry Bridgham, each won $177.34.  Charles Hafner took home the $177 Top Under 1100 prize for scoring 3½ points, while Girish Senthilkumar earned the $89 Second Under 1100 prize for finishing with 3 points, along with the Top Under 1000 plaque.  Jhon Jairo Benitez took the plaque for Top-Scoring Unrated Player, and Tony Nunez wins the Top Under 800 plaque.

There were nine Mixed Doubles teams, and the young duo of Valentina Bermudez and Santiago Munoz was part of a group of students from south Florida who all came to Orlando to play in the tournament. Their two-player average rating of 1408 resulted in their sixth-place ranking.  But their combined 7½ points resulted in their winning the $532 First Place Mixed Doubles Team prize!  Two other teams each scored 6½ to tie for Second-Third Mixed Doubles Team:  Amy Tsai + Nickolas Moore (average rating 1993) along with Violeta Atseva + GM Julio Becerra (average rating 1963). Each team earned $265.50.

An interesting field test took place during the Southern Open.  GM Julio Sadorra graciously volunteered to test out the new DGT 3000 clock under tournament conditions, and he used the clock successfully in all five games.

The turnout for the Southern Open was 176 entries, plus an additional 3 re-entries.

On Saturday night, 19 players competed in the Southern Open Blitz tournament, a 4-double-round (eight games total) side event (five minutes each game, no delay) which lasted about two hours.  Dalton Perrine, who was nicked for a lone draw by Rodrigo Antilef, produced an otherwise perfect showing to win the $95 First Prize.  Three players, FM Fabio La Rota, Mario Marshall and Joshua Harrison, each scored 6-2 to tie for 2nd-4th and take home $35.  Roderick Gorby and Ayush Maddikonda each scored 4 points to divvy up the Under 1800/Under 1500 prizes ($43 each).

Steve Immitt and Harvey Lerman directed both tournaments for Continental Chess. Find the full crosstable on MSA and more details on