Perelshteyn Wins Virginia Open
By NTD Michael Atkins   
March 3, 2009
GM Eugene Perelshteyn
GM Eugene Perelshteyn,
Photo Jennifer Shahade
What goes into making a really successful tournament? Many factors go into the formula. Maybe we can learn a little from the largest-ever Virginia Open, with 165 players. Well it was the largest at least since the beginning of the USCF's MSA site in 1992. A great playing site is key to tournament success. In the Virgina Open, the location was convenient, the room rate was reasonable, ($79) and there were nice playing conditions and good food that didn't crack already pressed budgets. Players eager for competition coming from various places up and down the east coast and from as far away as California filled the playing room. We also had a lucky break in timing as the morning after the tournament saw the biggest area snow storm in several years, one that would have destroyed the tournament if it came three days earlier.

GM Eugene Perelshteyn came down from Massachusetts to take clear first in the Open. After defeating fellow-GM Larry Kaufman in Rd 4, FM Daniel Yeager pushed Eugene to the max in a game that ended in a draw after 5 2/3 hours.


Eugene picked up a couple rating points on his quest to qualify for the US Championship and took home the plaque and $600 for his effort. Here is Eugene's critical win over Kaufman. Kaufman later analyzed the game with Rykba and found a mate in 19 (!) on move 31.


Perelshteyn also defeated Shinsaku Uesugi, the Japanese-American high-schooler.


Six players finished a half-point behind. Previously mentioned Dan Yeager gave up an earlier draw to 4-time Virginia State Champ Geoff McKenna. FM Dov Gorman and IM Oladapo Adu drew in the 5th round to join the 4-point club. Earlier Adu had been held to a draw by Ali Almuktawakel, a regular at US Chess Center and Arlington Chess Club. Ali also beat Stan Fink in Rd 1 for a FIDE performance and a rating gain of 50 points. IM Ray Kaufman finished with 4 after drawing with Gil Guo and Geoff McKenna. Expert Eddie Mark defeated McKenna in final round to join the six pointers and bring the Expert money into the 2nd-4th place pot. Harry Cohen won the Class A prize.

This had the feel on an older style event with the traditional 1/3 Open and 2/3 Amateur fields. 47 players came from outside Virginia. The majority were from chess-starved Maryland, but also from Texas, California, New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Massachusetts, DC and Ontario!

A number of players turned in FIDE performances: Goran Zalar, Ali Almuktawakel, Ed Pabalan, Charles Yang, Ramen Sreenivasan, and Geoff McKenna (but he should have an old FIDE rating from years ago)

Three people tied for the Amateur Section, which was directed by Don Millican. Raghu Rajaram won the plaque and Virginia Open Amateur champ on tiebreaks over Deodato Obregon and JinSeok Kim with 4.5 out of five. Multiple ties happened for every class section and can best be seen on the Amateur final standings page.

Scholastic players have been making a larger and larger proportion at Open tournaments. The chance to play adults helps the rapid gains they often make. A full 33% of the field in 2008 were scholastic players and it went up to 39% this year. The dates were changed to late February mainly because Kasparov Chess Foundation had a conflicting scholastic event at UMBC, later to be held in Pikesville.

For rating changes and complete results, check out the Virginia Open MSA.