On the weekend of July 27-29, Continental Chess Association held three separate events that collectively drew 560 players and awarded $41,000 in prizes! There were six GMs, six IMs, and five FMs. These numbers are all slightly lower than the previous weekend’s events, but they still represent a lot of players, substantial prize funds, and a lot of fighting chess played by titled and non-titled players alike.
The Southern Open
The largest of the three tournaments was the Southern Open. It drew 244 players and paid $17,000. The tournament was very strong as there were only 18 players in the Major section, and there were 5 GMs, 2 IMs, 2 FMs and a total of 11 players over 2200. This resulted in several GM vs. GM matchups throughout the weekend and every GM had to play at least two other GMs and in some cases 3 other GMs in this 5 round weekend swiss. GM vs GM pairings started occurring in round two, and there was at least one such pairing in every round after that.
The relatively large number of titled players and relatively small number of players had the effect of eliminating perfect scores fairly quickly. The bloodletting for the top players began as early as round one when second seeded Andrey Stukopin gave up a draw to NM Martin Hansen. FM Corey Acor also gave up a draw to Munir Bilal Ben Jemaa and while there were no full point upsets, the first round indicated that the top players would have their work cut out for them in order to win the $2000 first prize.
Round two saw GM vs. GM pairings in both the 3 day and two day schedules. Top seeded GM Yun Quesada Perez faced GM Julio Becerra on board one of the three day and drew quickly while GM Vladimir Belous defeated GM Fidel Corrales Jiminez on board one of the two day schedule to join IM Daniel Fernandez as the only two perfect 2-0 scores as the schedules merged.
Belous defeated Fernandez in round three to emerge as the lone perfect score at 3-0. The final day of the tournament was Belous’ birthday, and he would make the most of it. In the morning, he defeated GM Yun Quesada Perez to get to 4-0 and had already secured at least a tie for first place with one round to go. He then drew quickly with Stukopin in round five and finished in clear first at 4 ½ – ½ to take the $2000 first prize and $100 first place bonus. Here is the critical fourth round win with notes provided by GM Belous.
GMs Andrey Stukopin, Fidel Corrales Jimenez, and Yun Quesada Perez all finished at 3 ½ – 1 ½ tied for second and won $600 each. Here is Quesada’s last round win over IM Rafael Prasca.
One of the players who deserves special mention is Munir Bilal Ben Jemaa. He was rated 1993 on the wallchart (though 2053 unofficially), but elected to play up in the Major section. He tied for 2nd place Under 2300 with an even score. He was seeded 17th of the 18 players and played an average field of 2225. He drew all five games against significantly higher rated players and picked up 25 rating points.
The section winners were:
Elio Otero Arencibia, Kai Tabor, Bach Ngo, Javier Cordovez, and Ryan Edward Hamley, 4-1, $520
Carlos Rivas, Sasha Creighton, and Jerry Yao, 4 ½ – ½, $833.34
Joseph Jacob Hayes, 5-1, $1100
Matteo Labrecque, Rene Santin, and Advait Nair, 4 ½ – ½, $433.34
Sisira Yerrajennu and Kyle Ziegler, 6 ½ – 3 ½, $300 each
GM Vladimir Belous, 8-0, $95
NTD David Hater directed for Continental Chess Association assisted by Harvey Lerman and Charles Hatherill.
Full tournament details can be found at www.southernopen.com.
The Pittsburgh Open
The Pittsburgh Open had almost as high of a prize fund, but drew less than half the number of players as the Southern Open. There were only 139 players even though the prize fund was $15,000. The 22 player Major section had one GM, two IMs, and one FM. GM Brian Smith and NM Alexander Heimann each scored 4-1 to tie for first and win $1150, with Smith earning an extra $100 for superior tiebreaks. Everyone with a plus score won a prize with 9 of the 22 players cashing in.
Round one saw only one upset and one draw, but the higher rateds winning and being paired significantly down would not last long. The eventual tournament winner GM Bryan Smith brought home the full point against NM Tom Magar
Round two saw many more upsets as there were two masters losing in round two and there were four draws including IM Alexander Matros drawing with eventual tournament winner NM Alexander Heimann. After only two rounds, the number of perfect scores was down to two: GM Bryan Smith and FM Gabriel Petesch. These two would play in round three with Smith emerging as the only 3-0.
On Sunday morning, Smith would be paired with second seeded IM Matros and Smith was leading by one half point. He drew the game to maintain the lead, but this allowed Heimann to catch up by defeating SM William Sedlar.
Occasionally, it is nice to recognize the efforts of class players. Though they are not in the top section and they don’t play at the GM level, their victories and tournament wins are worthy of recognition. Vitas Vitkusakas plays in many CCA events, and, though only a solid class B player, his love of the game is undeniable. At Pittsburgh, he tied for first in the Under 1800 section. Here is a fighting draw where he had an advantage and tried for over 100 moves to bring home the full point against eventual fourth place winner Gary Lewis. The game finally ends in king versus king!
Going into the last round, Smith and Heimann were leading at 3 ½ – ½. They drew to secure first place. Matros would have a chance to join the tie if he could beat Petesch on board two. However, Petesch won to finish at 3 ½ – 1 ½ and took the third prize of $400 as the other 3 ½ pointer, Maxim Yaskolko won the Under 2300 prize of $600.
The section winners were:
Behnam Esmayli, 4 ½ – ½, $1200
Vytautas Vitkauskas, Timothy Cao, and Robert Oresick, 4-1, $767.67
Tom Collopy, 5-0, $1000
Josh Keegan, 5-0, $700
Trinity Murphy and Samuel Kagle, 7-3, $300 each
FM Gabriel Petesch, 7-1, $60
NTD Steve Immitt directed for Continental Chess Association assisted by Robert Greer.
Full tournament details can be found at www.pittsburghopen.net.
The Bradley Open
The Bradley Open had the smallest prize fund of the three events at $9000 but still drew a very respectable 177 players. The Major section was actually larger than the other two events at 28 players but did not have any GMs in attendance. There were, however, two IMs, one FM, and one WIM.
IM Matthew Larson and NM Michael Isakov each scored 4 ½ – ½ to win $800 each. Larson had signed up for a last round half point bye and started the tournament at 4-0. The last round bye allowed others to catch him. Isakov had drawn FM Hans Niemann in round two and then after two wins against lower rated players, he defeated NM Alejandro Botta in the last round to join the winner’s circle. Niemann also had a chance to tie for first. He entered the last round at 3 ½ – ½ and could tie for first with a win over IM Raja Panjwani. However, Panjwani won to finish in clear third with 4-1, his only loss being to IM Larson. The last round pairings were interesting because of Larson’s half point bye and the fact that Niemann and Heimann had played each other in round 2. There were three players art 3 ½ but Larson was not playing and the other two had already played. There was only one player at 3, so Niemann would play Panjwani and Heimann would play the top player at 2 1/2 : NM Botta.
While Larson started at 4-0 and took a last round bye, another section winner did it the opposite way. Aiden Teitelman took a half point bye in round one and then won his remaining four games to finish at 4 ½ – ½ and tie for first in the Under 1500 section. He did this despite being paired up in the last three rounds. He was rewarded with $550 and 174 rating points!
The section winners were:
Jack Cheng, 4 ½ – ½, $800
Winslow Renderer, 5-0, $800
Dennis Wigg and Aiden Teitelman, 4 ½ – ½, $550
Suma Dendi, 4 ½ – ½, $400
Christopher Lamtan and Sovannary Tan, 8-2, $100 each
Yelfry Torres, 7-1, $60
NTD Harold Stenzel directed for Continental Chess Association assisted by Bob Messenger.
Full tournament details can be found at www.bradleyopen.com.
Previous Continental Chess tournaments can be found at the Continental Chess website at http://www.chesstour.com/cross.html.