When “Bryant, Sevillano, and Li” tie for first in a Grand Prix event, you might assume it is two GMs and an IM who took home big money. But at the Central California Open it was GM Enrico Sevillano, IM John Bryant, and nine year old Rachael Li who tied for first!
All finished at 4-1 to win $966.67 each, with Bryant taking an extra $100 for having the best tiebreaks. The tournament served as a warmup event for Rachael Li, who passed through California on her way to winning a bronze medal at the World Cadet Championships in China.
The Central California Open is not a huge event, but it does have $10,000 in guaranteed prizes, enough to attract one GM and two IMs in the 150 player field. With 9 of the 31 players in the top section rated over 2200, it was quite strong.
The first round of the Major section was not a good round for the higher rateds. Four of the masters surrendered some points that would eventually have a major impact on the final standings. NM Michael Aigner lost to Shawnak Shivakumar and NM Jeffrey Gallagos lost to WFM Annapoori Meiyappan. Additionally, NM Kevin Pan drew with Jesse Turner and NM Lars Meyer drew with Cindy Zhang.
In the two day schedule, GM Sevillano started out with a win. In a relatively equal position his opponent goes wrong and Sevillano takes full advantage.
Black could opt for 25. … Qxd4 26. Nxd4 Rc8 and while there is still much chess to be played, the position is balanced. Instead, after 25. … Qd6? 26. Ne4 wins a piece.
In round two, Rachel Li suffered her only defeat of the event as she lost on board one to IM Bryant. All the titled players still had perfect scores at the round three merge. GM Enrico Sevilano, IM John Bryant and IM Tim Taylor were joined at 2-0 by NM Eric Lee, the only non-titled master perfect after two rounds.
Round three saw Sevillano drawing quickly with White against Taylor on board one. Bryant defeated Lee to get to clear first place at 3-0.
Bryant was paired with Sevillano on board one in round four and a draw ensued, but this still allowed Bryant to remain in clear first with 3.5 points. There was a large crowd at 3 points: GM Sevillano, IM Taylor, NMs Kevin Pan, Eric Lee, and Lars Meyer and Rachel Li, and WFM Annapoori Meiyappan all had scores of 3-1. Both Meyer and Meiyappan had opted for last round byes and would finish the event at 3.5 points.
Bryant had a chance to finish in clear first with a win, but he drew with NM Kevin Pan. This opened the door for others to tie for first and Sevillano took advantage by defeating NM Eric Lee. Rachel Li upset IM Taylor to join the tie for first.
Pan, Meyer, and Meiyappan were joined by Arun Dixit all with 3.5 points, sharing 4th place as well as the second under 2250 money. Each won $225.
The section winners were:
Thomas Weideman & Pranav Sairam, 4.5/5, $750
Xander Wallace, 4.5/5, $800
Raghuram Palaniappan & Dylan Trinh, 4.5/5, $375
WFM Annapoori Meiyappan and Kevin Pan, 7 points, $100 to each player.
Vladyslaw Shevkunov, 6.5/8, $85
NTD Steve Immitt directed for Continental Chess assisted by Peter Gaffney.
Previous Continental Chess tournaments can be found at the Continental Chess website at http://www.chesstour.com/cross.html.