GM Vladimir Belous won the 11th Annual Golden State Open in clear first place with a score of 6-1.
Vladimir Belous (photo David Hater)
Held in the San Francisco suburb of Concord, CA from January 17-20th, the 11th edition of the series drew a record setting 320 players in five sections. The Major section had 73 players including four GMs, two IMs, four FMs and one WIM. In all, there were 21 masters in the field.
The first round of the three day schedule saw a key upset when SM Jack Zhu lost to Maurya Palusa. At the merge, only eight perfect scores remained: GMs Dariusz Swiercz, Andrey Stukopin, Vladimir Belous and Francesco Rambaldi, IM Teddy Coleman, FMs Kyron Griffith and Rayan Taghizadeh, and NM Gnel Melikian.
Only half of the top games in round three were decisive as both boards one and two drew. On board one, FM Taghizadeh held GM Swiercz to a draw while on board two FM Griffith held GM Stukopin to a draw. The other two GMs scored full points as GM Belous defeated NM Melikian and GM Rambaldi defeated IM Coleman.
The last of the two perfect scores faced off in round four with GM Rambaldi downing Belous to emerge as the lone perfect score at 4-0. There were only two players at 3 ½, GMs Swierecz and Stukopin, while GM Belous led a group of ten players who stood at 3-1.
The field narrowed a bit in round five. GM Rambaldi drew with GM Stukopin, but stayed in clear first as GM Belous defeated GM Swiercz. Belous had a good position, but Swiercz was definitely playing for a win and overpressed, aiding Belous in his quest for the full point.
Going into the final day, GM Rambaldi led with 4 ½ out of 5. He was closely followed by six players at 4-1: GMs Stukopin & Belous, FMs Griffith & Taghizadeh, SM Zhu, and NM Pranav Nagarajan.
The penultimate round saw a major shakeup as FM Griffith defeated GM Rambaldi on board one. GM Belous defeated FM Taghizadeh to also get to 5-1. GM Stukopin drew with SM Zhu and NM Nagarajan was paired “down” to GM Rambaldi, splitting the point.
This meant that going into the last round, GM Belous and FM Griffith led the pack at 5-1. They were followed by seven players at 4 ½ – 1 ½ : GMs Stukopin & Rambaldi, IMs Konstantin Kavutskiy & Teddy Coleman, SM Zhu, NM Nagarajan and Henry Wang.
NM Nagaranjan had opted for a last round half-point bye. He would thus finish at 5-2. If Belous and Griffith drew, there could be as much as a five way tie for first. But Belous defeated Griffith to finish at 6-1 in clear first place, winning $3100.
Two of the next three boards were decisive: GM Rambaldi defeated Henry Wang and SM Zhu defeated IM Coleman. GM Rambaldi and SM Zhu each won $1100 for tying for second. GM Stukopin drew with IM Kavutiskiy. They finished in a five way tie for fourth.
The section winners were:
Felix German, 6 ½ – ½, $1700
Enoch Martinez, 6 ½ – ½, $1700
Jeremy Cawthon, 6 ½ – ½, $1400
Charles Clem & Roy Sfadia, 6-1, $750
Hansika Kolli & Aarya Gorjalar, 11 ½ – 2 ½, $750 to each player
Arman Baradaran, 7-1, $115
NTD David Hater directed for Continental Chess assisted by Tom Langland and Jordan Langland.