Chess for a Cause: The 3rd Charity Chess Championship

The Third Annual Charity Chess Championship was held at Columbia Grammar & Preparatory School on June 2nd. This year’s fundraising event featured 15 GMs and 5 IMs participating in a Grandmaster blitz tournament. 119 players played in quads, 32 players entered a GM tandem simul, and hundreds of others contributed via silent auctions, “sponsor a player,” and corporate donations. The result? Another huge success as over $50,000 was raised this year! All the net proceeds raised are being donated to the David M. Rubenstein Center for Pancreatic Cancer Research at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center to fund research for the early detection and prevention of pancreatic cancer.
Chief TD David Hater (photo courtesy subject)
Each participant has their own personal reasons for donating their time and money to this cause. I have  been personally involved with this project, one of my favorite events of the year, from its inception. All the participants are playing for a love of the game and a support of a charity. Nobody cares about cash prizes – there are none – and it is an environment totally different than any tournament I’ve ever been associated with.

Participants pay $50 to play in either the quads or the GM simul, with all net proceeds raised going to cancer research. Every participant received a lunch coupon generously donated by Shake Shack. Quad winners received a chessboard signed by all the GM/IM participants. The Grandmasters all donate their time to attend, and many also donate a lesson to the auction. All the GMs play in the Grandmaster blitz, and six participants work to win their way (or buy their way in) to the blitz championship for the privilege of playing some of our greatest players. GM Max Dlugy won each of the first two year’s GM Blitz events, but this year saw a changing of the guard. In 2019 GM Robert Hess, GM Nicolas Checa, and GM Marc Arnold shared first place with a score of 5.5–1.5. Hess took the championship trophy on tiebreaks.

Hess started 5-0 defeating GMs Maurice Ashley, Mackenzie Molner, Pascal Charbonneau, Nicolas Checa and IM Hans Niemann. After drawing GM Marc Arnold in round six, Hess was a full point ahead of the field and guaranteed at least a tie for first. He lost in the last round to top seeded GM Joel Benjamin, allowing Checa and Arnold to catch up, but Hess’s tiebreaks were much better. A longtime supporter of the Charity Chess Championship, Hess is always a crowd favorite to win the event. Last year, he wrote the CLO article covering the event (and won 3rd place in “The Best of CLO!), and he also persuaded World Championship Challenger Fabiano Caruana to make an appearance at the 2018 Championship. Unfortunately, Fabiano’s schedule precluded a return visit. This year Hess hosted a sponsorship drive on twitch.tv that netted almost $2,000, in addition to the almost $3,000 that he had already raised! The “sponsor a player” feature was new in 2019, with the idea that any participant in any event could raise money by asking for sponsors. This initiative brought in more than $26,000! Six non-titled players made it to the GM Blitz. NM Richard Selzer earned his way in by winning the top quad and he made an even score of 3.5 points. Jacob Teitelman won his way in via a raffle ticket and scored 2 points. Luc Hoffman, Elijah Gerson and Xan Meister bid their way in via the silent auction and each scored 2 points. Bowe Siegelson also bid in through the silent auction, and while he didn’t score any points, he did get to play five GMs/IMs and will take away some great memories.

In addition to the GM Blitz, GM Joel Benjamin and GM Michael Rohde played a tandem simul against 32 players.  (GM John Fedorowicz was originally scheduled to be part of the tandem, but he fell ill and was not able to participate in the day’s events.) Despite the inherent difficulties in playing a tandem simul, and despite the relatively strong opposition, the team of Benjamin/Rohde did not lose a game. Four draws were earned by Nate Shuman, Jed Sloan, Aiden Reiss, and Toshinori Underwood. Nate Schuman has played in the GM simul all three years and has drawn in all three years. This year in the final position, he had a slight edge, but he agreed to a draw.
[pgn]

[Event "Charity Chess Simul"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2019.06.02"]
[Round "?"]
[White "Benjamin/Rohde"]
[Black "Shuman, Nate"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "B27"]
[PlyCount "44"]
[EventDate "2019.??.??"]

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 g6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 d5 6. exd5 Nxd5 7. Ndb5 Nxc3
8. Qxd8+ Kxd8 9. Nxc3 Nc6 10. Bf4 e5 11. Bg5+ Be7 12. O-O-O+ Bd7 13. Bxe7+ Nxe7
14. g3 Kc7 15. Bg2 Rhd8 16. h4 h5 17. Rd2 Bc6 18. Bxc6 Rxd2 19. Kxd2 Rd8+ 20.
Ke3 Nxc6 21. Re1 f5 22. f4 e4 1/2-1/2

[/pgn]
Jed Sloan and Aiden Reiss had equal positions in the final position. I suspect in tournament games the GMs would press harder for a win, but these players earned their draw in the simul.
[pgn]

[Event "Charity Chess Simul"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2019.06.02"]
[Round "?"]
[White "Benjamin/Rohde"]
[Black "Sloan, Jed"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "D53"]
[WhiteElo "2500"]
[BlackElo "1961"]
[PlyCount "54"]
[EventDate "2019.??.??"]

1. d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 d5 3. c4 e6 4. Bg5 Be7 5. Nc3 h6 6. Bh4 b6 7. cxd5 Nxd5 8.
Bxe7 Qxe7 9. e4 Nxc3 10. bxc3 Bb7 11. Bd3 O-O 12. O-O Nd7 13. Qe2 Rfd8 14. e5
c5 15. Rfd1 cxd4 16. cxd4 Nf8 17. Be4 Bxe4 18. Qxe4 Rd5 19. Rac1 Rad8 20. Rc2
Ng6 21. h4 Qa3 22. h5 Ne7 23. g4 R5d7 24. Rdc1 Qa5 25. Kg2 Qd5 26. Qxd5 Nxd5
27. Kg3 Kf8 1/2-1/2

[/pgn]
[pgn]

[Event "Charity Chess Simul"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2019.06.02"]
[Round "?"]
[White "Benjamin/Rohde"]
[Black "Sloan, Jed"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "D53"]
[WhiteElo "2500"]
[BlackElo "1961"]
[PlyCount "54"]
[EventDate "2019.??.??"]

1. d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 d5 3. c4 e6 4. Bg5 Be7 5. Nc3 h6 6. Bh4 b6 7. cxd5 Nxd5 8.
Bxe7 Qxe7 9. e4 Nxc3 10. bxc3 Bb7 11. Bd3 O-O 12. O-O Nd7 13. Qe2 Rfd8 14. e5
c5 15. Rfd1 cxd4 16. cxd4 Nf8 17. Be4 Bxe4 18. Qxe4 Rd5 19. Rac1 Rad8 20. Rc2
Ng6 21. h4 Qa3 22. h5 Ne7 23. g4 R5d7 24. Rdc1 Qa5 25. Kg2 Qd5 26. Qxd5 Nxd5
27. Kg3 Kf8 1/2-1/2

[/pgn]
There were a total of 27 quads and 2 small swisses with a total of 119 players. The top quad featured a  special prize – the winner is seeded into the GM Blitz. NM Robert Selzler won the top quad 3-0 over FMs Nico Chasin, Aaron Jacobson and Jack Levine.  Selzler’s best game in the quad was against Jacobson.
NM Seltzer (photo David Hater)
[pgn]

[Event "Charity Chess Tournament 2019"]
[Date "2019.06.02"]
[Round "?"]
[White "Jacobson, Aaron"]
[Black "Selzler, Richard"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "E07"]
[WhiteElo "2390"]
[BlackElo "2250"]
[PlyCount "52"]

1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. Nf3 e6 5. g3 Nbd7 6. Bg2 Be7 7. O-O O-O 8. b3
b6 9. Bb2 Ba6 10. Qd3 c5 11. e4 dxc4 12. bxc4 cxd4 13. Qxd4 Bc5 14. Qd3 Ng4 15.
Nb5 Ndf6 16. Qe2 Bb7 17. Nc3 Nd7 18. e5 Rc8 19. Ne4 Qc7 20. h3 Bxe4 21. Qxe4
Nxf2 22. Rxf2 Bxf2+ 23. Kxf2 Qxc4 24. Qxc4 Rxc4 25. Ne1 Rfc8 26. Rd1 Nc5 {
Time trouble did not allow for further notation, after many more moves 0-1} 0-1

[/pgn]
Selzler did well in the GM Blitz finishing with an even score. He scored 2-0 against non-titled players, defeated IM Brandon Jacobson. and drew GM Vladimir Romanenko.
Tani Adewumi (photo David Hater)
Another quad winner was a name familiar to CLO readers. NYS Primary Champion Tani Adewumi scored 2-1 in his quad and won a GM signed board. Tani also donated a lesson.
The silent auction (photo David Hater)
The silent auction, run by Norma Mero, had hundreds of items for bid including chess and non-chess items. Here’s a sample of what was bid on: spots to play in the GM blitz tournament, a Magnus Carlsen signed vinyl chessboard, NY Rangers tickets, “Foods of NY” food tour, a week of ICN Training Camp featuring 2018 US Champion Sam Shankland, a season Pass to G&T Quads, a Shake Shack lunch and ‘behind the scenes tour’ for 8, a Marshall Chess Club membership, and round-trip tickets on Southwest Airlines. Combine the generosity of the donors with that of the bidders, and one can see how  many thousands of dollars were raised for research.
Norma and Scott Mero (photo David Hater)
This is the third iteration of the Charity Chess Championship. The event is organized by the Mero family: Scott and Norma Mero, and their 12 year old son Daniel. The first year was a fund raiser for neuroblastoma cancer research, raising over $20,000. Building on that success, last year the event raised over $56,000 for Mount Sinai Hospital’s Ovarian Cancer Translational Research Laboratory. This year’s final cash total is yet to be determined, but we are over already over $50,000 and hopefully we will surpass last year’s haul.
Caryn and Dima Teitelman (photo David Hater)
This year the Mero’s named Caryn Teitelman as the MVP for her unending enthusiasm, dedication, and organizational ability in support of the event. We would not have been as successful without her untiring efforts.  The Charity Chess Championship also owes a huge debt of gratitude to Dr. Bill Donohue and everyone at CGPS for graciously allowing us use of their facilities for the second year in a row. The event will continue in future years. We may have to go to a bi-annual event as the event is becoming so large and successful that we may have to go to an every other year event because the demands of running this annually are becoming quite immense. Details of this and past events can be found at https://www.charitychess.org.

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