Winning BayAreaChess tournaments has become a hard habit for GM Conrad Holt to break in 2017, much to his opponents’ dismay. The young American topped this Thanksgiving weekend’s California Class Warfare Championship over a field that included 5 other GMs and IMs, and 3 NMs.
Despite just playing “decently,” the modest Google software engineer was a dominant 5.5 out of 6, defeating GM Atanas Ivan Kolev in Round 3, GM Zviad Izoria in Round 4, and National Master Jack Zhu in Round 5, which the 24-year-old called his “most exciting” clash.
“I came up with a knight sacrifice which allowed me to at least force a repetition,” said Holt. “Eventually I decided to avoid the repetition and hope for more, although I was low on time. The gamble paid off as Jack erred a few moves later (with Bg2), allowing me to win a Queen.”
Zhu has his own thoughts. Read his in-depth analysis of this dramatic battle.
In the final round, Holt safely drew with visiting Romanian IM Teodor Anton, ensuring a full point lead over the second-place Anton. Zhu, Kolev, GM Enrico Sevillano, and 10-year-old expert Vyom Vidyarthi shared 3rd with 4 points.
Holt has been on a local tear this summer, winning 4 other major Bay Area tournaments in the past 6 months, including the Bay Area Chess Championships in June, the People’s Tournament and the Walter Browne Memorial Championship in July, and the CalChess State Championship in September. Holt, who also tied for second at the U.S. Open in July, is rated in the top 20 in the US with a rating of 2688 after winning the Class Warfare tournament.
With a 50-year history in the Silicon Valley, the Class Warfare Championship has long been one of the premier Thanksgiving tournaments on the West Coast (the American Open in Los Angeles being the other). Its distinctive, odd-sectioned format mixes Experts and A players, A and B players, B and C players, etc., creating exciting matchups and upsets.
Since 2013, the BAC-organized tournament has been reinvigorated with an infusion of youthful talent. This year’s edition boasted a $9,000 prize fund, 350 players total, with nearly half competing in the one-day Kids Thanksgiving Championship.
In the Under 2100 (Expert and A section), a new player from Mexico City, Gutierrez Garcia Vicente, won clear first with 5.5 out of 6, drawing with second place Shawnak Shivakumar in the final round. Rui Yang Yan tied for 2nd with 5 points with Shivakumar, while Sathvi Singireddy and Evan Ai tied for 4th with 4.5 points.
In the Under 1900 (AB) section, there was a 3-way tie between Pranav Sairam (winner on tiebreak), Sos Hakobyan, and Cailen Melville at 4.5 points. 4th through 7th was shared by Arun Dixit, Jayden Xu, Nicholas Wang and Juan Carl Ventosa, all with 4 points.
In the Under 1700 (BC), Chelsea Zhou won clear first with 5.5 and garnering a huge rating increase reflecting her current strength (she is coached by BAC coach, IM Faik Aleskerov). She drew second place Tim Erwin in the 5th round. 3rd-5th at 4.5 points was shared by Jeff Andersen, Anshul Govindu, and Venkatag Acharya.
In the Under 1500 (CD), 4 players tied for first with 4.5: Nghia Ung, Yashnil Saha, Yesun Lee, and Swetha Aluri, while Vivek Somani and Anish Korlimarla tied for 5th with 4 points.
Finally, the Under 1300 (DE and Unrated) also boasted a tie at 5.0 between Boyang Li and Mateusz Zielinski, while there was an 8-way tie for 3rd (4 points) with Archish Risha Ray, Anish Dara, Abha Dharnidharka, Sanya Badhe, Ethan Chen, Benjamin Zhang, Jashan Mahajan, and John Edwards.
In the aforementioned Kids Class Championship restricted to Under 1300 youth players, Bryce Yeh and Justin Leung tied for first with 4.5 out of 5 in the top section. 3rd-6th (4 points) were Michael Hao Chang, Brian Fong, Mihir Achyuta and Jacob Levin, while 7th-10th (3.5) included Winston Yeh, Adam Feng, Prescott Yu and Advay Bansal.
Under 900 Results
1st (5 points): Eshaan Billing
2nd-6th (4 points): Abhi Govindarasu, Ron Tal, Punj Agrawal, Abhinav Sinha, Alex Chou
7th (3.5) – Claire Wang
8-18th (3) – Aaditya Bhat, Jessica Wang, Derek Chen, Kaustub Kodihalli, Anthony Beiche Hu, Andrew Cheng, Jonathan Cheng, Alexander Braun, Ken Okuzumi, Rupal Nimaiyar, and Tanishi Varma
1st (5 points): Ronak Suri
2nd-7th (4 points): Akshath Arunkumar, Lola Korlimarla, Max Haubold, Vian Yang, Mukundh Venkat and Jason Nishio
8th (3.5): Arvi Senthilkumar
9th (3): Aaron Tian, Aniket Tyagi, Aravind Acharya, Pra Radhakrishnan, Vivaan Parhar, Vedant Talwalkar, Kendra Pang, Suriya Gnanasundar, Lucas Lum, Kevin Liu, Charu Gowdru, Adhya Mahesh
1st (5): Ananya Acharya
2nd-6th (4): Edison Yang, Rushil Yadavalli, Josiah Jaskkula, Daniel Yao, Sarat Chandrapaty
7th (3): Jorge Carillo, Patrick Fang, Laura Yeh, Jeffrey Xu, Yali Sampathkumar, Cole Mans Garratt, Arjun Kamath and Vyasraj Raja Vignesh
1st-2nd: Lowell HS (San Francisco) and Foster City Elementary School (Lowell winner on tiebreak)
3rd-5th: Tom Matsumoto School, Harker School and Almaden Country Day School (all of San Jose)
1st: Bay Area Chess
2nd: Evergreen Chess Club
3rd-4th: Studygascar and Liu Chess Club
5th: Norcal House of Chess
Thanks to tournament directors Tom Langland, Jordan Langland, Richard Koepcke, Michael Joseph D’Alfonsi, and co-organizer Abel Talamantez, for another successful tournament!
The next upcoming tournaments are the last BayAreaChess Championship of 2017 on December 15-17 in Milpitas (www.bayareachess.com/champs), and the 2018 New Year Tournament during the first weekend of 2018: Jan 5-8 in Santa Clara (www.bayareachess.com/ny).
Hope to see many of the players returning for a great start of the year!
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Eric Lai is a Bay Area-based journalist, tech marketing consultant, and head coach of the Fallon Middle School chess team.