Becerra Wins 7th Florida State Championship Title
By Harvey Lerman   
September 16, 2015
GM Julio Becerra
GM Julio Becerra (2626) lost his first round game in the Florida State Championship to Corey Riegelhaupt (2038). Becerra then won his remaining games to finish 5-1 and tied with fellow Miami Sharks player, Vlad Yanovsky (2232), but Julio came out 1st on tiebreaks.

The Florida State Championship in Orlando started off with 4 of the top 5 rated players losing their 1st game.  None can remember an event starting with that many of the top 5 masters losing games to players rated 300 points less than them. According to Yanovsky, Becerra has not lost to a player 600 points below him in a major event in at least the past 200 games.

Corey Acor (2365), #2 on the list, was the only player of the top 5 to win the first game and he led the way until the 5th round when he and Yanovsky played down to zero seconds remaining on Acor's clock, as he tried to squeeze out a 5th win. But there was nothing left but a K&P vs K draw. Acor lost his last round game against Becerra, while Yanovsky won his last game to tie with the GM for 1st, but the only player without a loss.

Corey Acor
Becerra has won all the Florida state championship events in which he has played since 2006. He took off the years 2011-2013 being with his wife and new baby, but won all the other years and so has been champion 7 times. His aim is to pass Eduard Celorio's record of being Florida state champion 8 times. Celorio won most of these in the 1960s, but then won in each decade thru the 1990s to reach 8 and with wins in 4 decades.

Becerra and Yanovsky split $1900 for 1st&2nd while Acor and Miguel Fonseca (2106)  finished tied for 3rd each getting $500 as the Under 2200 prize was included. But Acor also did well in the Blitz (G/5;d0) and Quick (G15;d3) winning $200 in the 30-player Blitz and $50 in the 4-player QC. Becerra was a ½-point behind in the Blitz going into the last round against Acor, but the latter's speed allowed the games to be drawn with no time left on both clocks in the final game.

The main event of this Arnold Denker Florida State Championship, named after one of Florida's greatest players, was advertised as $12000/b180, and the Central Florida Chess Club (CFCC) organizers announced that 100% of the prize fund would be given out.

GM Becerra put on a simul sponsored by the Florida Chess Association (FCA) and squeezed into the tight schedule, the 6 players that entered were treated to an expanded "time control" as the GM used most of the 2 hours allotted for his 6-0 score. Extra monies collected from the simul was used to fund the "Lucky Game" prizes to be given out at the start of the last round.

Players would submit their "best" scoresheets and 4 of them were drawn at random as each "Lucky Game" resulted in a $30 prize to the player that won (or circled name). The CFCC also gave out four Orlando Convention Aid (OCA) prizes worth from $50 to $112 each, by random drawings of table number and piece color.

One strange thing happened during the 1st round Friday night 7:30 pm... there was one player that did not show up... Well, that happens often; but this time there is more to the story. At 8:40pm a player rushes in, telling the organizer that he knows he's late and lost by forfeit, but do not withdraw him. He had used a GPS to find his way to the tournament, but had entered my home address in Maitland which was almost 20 miles away from the hotel in Orlando. It must have been strange for him to not find any hotels there!  I told him let's go to your board, and when we arrived I pointed out that he still had 1 minute and 16 seconds on his clock, as the 1st round had started late. He made his 1st move and sat down. Moral of this is don't always blindly trust your GPS, they often lead you astray!

The Wyndham Orlando Resort was a perfect place for this event, which was run by the CFCC's Harvey Lerman  as Organizer and Steven Vigil as Chief TD, with additional help from Nathan Kelly. Stephen Cernobyl ran the concessions.

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