“Three of a Kind” – A Busy Weekend for CCA

The Continental Chess Association had a busy weekend July 19th-21st, running three events in Chicago, IL, Manhattan, NY, and Orlando, FL. Together the tournaments drew 949 players and offered $73,000 in guaranteed prizes. This was enough to attract a total of seven GMs and 48 masters, but surprises were in store at all three playing sites. Two events saw a clear winner that was not a GM!


The largest event by prize fund was the Chicago Class with a guaranteed prize fund of $30,000 which drew a total of 332 players but only one GM! Due to five first round draws in the master secton, by round two some of the strongest players were facing each other and there were a number of draws and a few upsets.

The upset of round two was NM Jonathan Kogen defeating IM George Li, while top seed GM Vladimir Georgiev surrendered a draw to FM Alexander Velikanov. This left only four perfect scores after two rounds: FMs Ben Li & Matthew Stevens, and NMs Hanxiang Li and Jonathan Kogen. The round three game between Stevens and Li ended in a draw, leaving just one perfect score as third seeded FM Ben Li defeated NM Jonathan Kogen.

On Sunday morning, Li was paired with GM Georgiev who had 2.5 points. Li defeated GM Georgiev to maintain the only perfect score. NM Guadalupe defeated FM Stevens to get to 3.5, but Menon and Li drew. Li annotates his win over GM Georgiev.

Heading into the last round there was only one 4-0, Ben Li, and only one 3.5, Francisco Guadalupe. Li had white and only needed a draw to secure clear first place. A quick draw ensued, giving FM Li clear first place and $3100. Guadalupe, for his part, secured at least a share of second place.

Board two FM Velikanov drew with Menon, and FM Jason Wang drew with Hanxiang Li on board three, so Guadalupe finished in clear second and won $1500. Velikanov, Wang, Menon, and Li were joined in third place by IM George Li and FM Stevens who won their last round games. Each of the players in the third place tie received $516.67.

NTD Steve Immitt directed for Continental Chess assisted by Jeff Wiewel, Bill Buklis, Maret Thorpe, Jeff Smith, and Steve Plotnick.

Full tournament details, including the names of winners in the ‘under sections,’ can be found at www.chicagoclass.net.


The second event was the largest event by number of participants as 426 players attended the Manhattan Open. At the top of the wallcharts were three GMs – Giorgi Kacheishvili, Irina Krush, and Michael Rohde –  along with Robert Perez and WGM Nino Khomeriki.

In round one, there were four draws and three upsets, but the top players all won their games. However, in round two there were far more upsets and draws on the top boards.

Second seed SM Robert Perez gave up a draw to SM Leif Pressman while WGM Khomeriki lost to NM Davis Zhong. The three GMs were all at 2-0, along with IM Jay Bonin and NMs Joseph Zeltsin, Noah Thomforde-toates, Max Li & Davis Zhong.

Of the four boards with perfect scores in round three, there was only one decisive game: Zeltsin defeated top seeded GM Giorgi Kacheishvili. Zeltsin would be the only perfect score going into Sunday’s “money games.” The other three games ended as draws as Krush – Thomforde-toates, Rohde – Li, and Bonin – Zhong all split the point.

Zeltsin had black against Robert Perez in Sunday morning’s fourth round. The game ended in a draw so Zeltsin was still in first place at 3.5 points, but he was joined by two other players as GM Krush defeated IM Bonin and FM Chen defeated NM Max Li to get to 3.5 points. In the last round, Zeltsin had white versus Krush while Chen was paired “down” to Robert Perez.

Zeltsin defeated Krush to finish in clear first place with 4.5 points and take home $2600. Chen and Perez drew which gave Chen a part of second place. Chen was joined by SM Leif Pressman who defeated NM Marat Prilleltensky and NM Daniel Vasserman who defeated GM Rohde. The three players at 4-1 all won $966.67. Since Vasserman was below 2400, he took the first class prize and the 4th prize as well as 2nd Under 2400 was split between GM Irina Krush, SM Robert Perez, NM Davis Zhong and Winson Ni. Each won $225.

NTD Harold Stenzel directed for Continental Chess assisted by Jabari McGreen, Harold Scott, Hector Rodriguez III, and Ernesto Rivera.

Full tournament details, including the names of winners in the ‘under sections,’ can be found at www.manhattanopen.com.


The Southern Open was the smallest event by prize fund and players, but still drew three GMs: Olexander Bortnyk, Mark Paragua, and Julio Becerra. The overall attendance was disappointing as only 191 players showed up to compete for the $18,000 prize fund. Perhaps the upcoming US Open in Orlando in three weeks forced players to choose between the events?

While the top section was small at only 20 players, there were 11 masters in the field. Because the tournament was relatively small, the chances to win a prize were very good. Of the 14 players who completed their schedule, 8 won money!

In round one, there was only one upset: SM Daniel Cremisi blundered in time pressure and allowed his opponent a nice tactic. Can you spot the winning move?

Solution: 40. Rf1 1-0

All the GMs won in round two, so the only perfect scores at the merge were GMs Bortnyk, Paragua, and Becerra. Paragua and Bortnyk played a 20 move draw, but Becerra defeated Acor to lead the crosstable alone at 3-0.

Becerra had White versus Bortnyk in round four. He offered an early draw which Bortnyk declined, but the game was eventually drawn on move 37. GM Paragua could have joined Becerra at 3.5, but he was only able to draw with NM Ragvav Venkat. This ensured that Becerra was still alone at first place going into the last round.

Becerra faced Paragua in the last round and since Bortnyk had already played Slade, those two players were paired down to players with 2.5 points. Becerra and Paragua played a relative quick draw which gave Becerra a share of first place. He was joined by Bortnyk, who defeated Cremisi,  and Slade, who won against Acor.

Bortnyk, Becerra and Slade tied for first place, each winning $1266.67 and Bortnyk taking an extra $100 for having the best tiebreaks. Paragua finished in clear fourth with 3.5 points and won $600. NMs Raghav Venkat, Martin Hansen, & Makaio Krienke and Ryan Hamley all scored 3-2 and won $200 for sharing the fourth prize as well as the second Under 2400 prize.

NTD David Hater directed for Continental Chess assisted by Charles Hatherill, Harvey Lerman, Krista Alton & Arthur Alton.

Full tournament details, including the names of winners in the ‘under sections,’ can be found at www.southernopen.com.

Previous Continental Chess tournaments can be found at the Continental Chess website at http://www.chesstour.com/cross.html.

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