Bringing Weekenders Back to Upstate New York

maxlunashvilleContinental Chess Association is more well known for its mega tournaments with hundreds of players and tens of thousands of dollar prize funds.  However, CCA has also recently been running smaller tournaments in upstate New York.  A previous article focused on the Central New York Open in Syracuse, the first multi day in the area in almost 20 years.  CCA also is increasing weekend swiss activity in the Albany area, having run the inaugural Bill Little Open April 1st to 3rd and planning events on the horizon such as the Schenectady Open in July.  These events have drawn well and featured strong players and fighting chess.

The Bill Little Memorial at Siena College featured a $2000 prize fund that was not enough to attract any GMs or IMs, but 70 players participated in three sections including five masters in the top section.

The tournament recognizes Bill Little who was a fixture in Albany chess for many decades.  Peter Henner remembers his contributions: Bill was a longtime member of both the Albany and Schenectady clubs, a player whose rating ranged from Class A to expert, and a regular tournament player in the area for more than 40 years.  However, he was really the soul of capital district chess: a cheerleader for all players, with words of encouragement or, as needed, consolation, and always ready to help do whatever was needed to promote the game. In later years, it was his habit to attend both the Albany and Schenectady club during tournament nights, record all of the games, and publish the most interesting, with insightful commentary on the Eastern New York Chess Association website.

Chief TD Steve Immitt also has a recollection of Bill.  Back in the day when Steve actually played chess J, Steve showed up late for a tournament.  Bill was very gracious and persuaded all the players to allow repairing of the round so that Steve could play round 1.  Back in the days before computer pairings, this was not so easy!  I will leave it to the reader to figure out whether Steve the director would approve of Steve the player.

In this year’s tournament, after 5 rounds there was a three way tie for first between Patrick Chi, David Carter, and 10-year-old master Max Lu.  All scored 4-1.  Carter lost only to Chi.  Chi drew with Lu and Christopher Chabris while Lu drew with Chi and WFM Martha Samadashvili.  Each of the co-champions received $250.  Lu had a nice tactic to dispatch FM Robert Sulman in the last round.

Here’s the full game:

Here is Chi’s win over Carter.

Other section winners were:

Under 1800         Brian Furtado, Scott Boyce, Arthur Alowitz           4-1          $150 each

Under 1400         Yeshwanth Polamreddy                                                                5-0          $100 (Unr limited to $100)

Mixed Double   WFM Martha Samadashvili & Alan Geiger             7-3          $50 each
Joel_BenjaminThe following month CCA held another one of its regularly scheduled tournaments – this time in a resort setting.  The New York State Open was held May 20-22 at Tiki Resort at Lake George.  While this tournament has been held at Lake George for over a decade, the attendance this year broke a record with over 100 players for the first time.  It boasted a $3000 prize fund and 105 players.  There were fewer masters in this tournament, but there were a few luminaries.  GM Joel Benjamin won the tournament with a score of 5-0.  He took home $400 for his efforts.   In round 4, Joel defeated second seeded Wall Street Journal Chess columnist Christopher Chabris who finished in a tie for third at 4-1.  Benjamin won on time.

In the last round, Benjamin sacs an exchange to defeat Canadian FM Shawn Rodrigue-Lemieux.

Special mention goes to David Granik.  Rated 1787, he was paired up all 5 rounds and defeated experts Harold Scott and former USCF Executive Director and current Chess Trust director Al Lawrence and pulled off a 200+ point upset over Lecours and only lost to WFM Samadashvili and Chabris!  He gained nearly 100 rating points and won half of the Under 1810 prize.  All his wins were gambits!  Here is his win over Al Lawrence.

The New York State Open again featured a Senior section open to players rated Under 1910 and older than 50.  Timothy Smolinski won that section with a score of 4 ½.  He won his first four games and drew the last round against Philip Ferguson.  The margin of victory was a half point bye as Ferguson won the rest of his games but took a half point bye in round 3.  In the last round game, Smolinski was quite satisfied with a draw since it gave him clear first place.  His opponent tries to mix things up and is worse, but escapes with the draw.

Here are the other section winners:

Under 1610         Erika McLean, Erik Westwig, Andrew Harris,        4-1                          $120

Blaise Loya, Premjith Narayan

Under 1210         Abraham Porschet                                                          4 ½- ½                   $100

Mixed Double   Kimberly Kreiss & Erik Aparicio                                   8-2                          $100 each

Blitz                        NM Lev Paciorkowski                                                     6 ½ – 1 ½               $40

One of the interesting things about these tournaments is the rating cutoff ending in 10 rather than zero such as 1910 rather than 1900.  Having this option in tournaments from time to time allows players who may be on their floor to be near the top of their section rather than the bottom.   While this may not be a good idea for big money tournaments it gives opportunities to declining players on their floor (such as me from time to time J).  Variety in formats allows serving many different constituencies.

NTD/IA Steve Immitt directed both tournaments.  NYS games editor Bill Townsend assisted at the New York State Open and assisted with collecting game scores and choosing games for this article.  Brother John McManus assisted at the Bill Little memorial.

Complete results of the Bill Little Memorial can be found at  Complete results of the New York State Open can be found at

Previous Continental Chess tournaments can be found at the Continental Chess website at Follow the Chicago Open this weekend here. 


  1. Thanks for posting the Rodrigue-Lemieux vs Benjamin game. I saw the exchange sac at the tournament and couldn’t tell who was better. I didn’t see the finish live so it was nice to play through the remainder of the game. The tourney was very smoothly run as always by Steve Immitt.

  2. Nice article but I have one correction. Max lu is not 12 years old but 10 years old. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have broken the record for youngest master last November.

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