GM Kamil Dragun Wins 9th Annual Golden State Open

Golden State Open Champion, GM Kamil Dragun. Photo:

GM Kamil Dragun won the Golden State Open held from January 11-15 in Concord, California.  Dragun started as the top seed and finished clear first with a score of 6-1, though he had to overcome an early round loss to reach the winner’s circle. The tournament drew a total of 302 players (counting re-entries, house players etc.) in five sections.  The Major section had five GMs, three IMs, eight FMs, and a total of 29 players over 2200 among the 78 players, vying for their piece of the $25,000 prize fund.  The top five GMs were all rated near 2700 and finished near the top of the crosstable, but the tournament was not without some upsets. Round one proceeded normally for the GMs, but the one upset on the top boards was sixth seeded IM Luke Harmon-vellotti lost to Kenneth Hills.

[pgn][Event "2018 Golden State Open"] [Site "Concord"] [Date "2018.01.12"] [Round "1.2"] [White "Hills, Kenneth"] [Black "Harmon Vellotti, Luke"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "A13"] [WhiteElo "2127"] [BlackElo "2572"] [PlyCount "43"] [EventDate "2018.01.13"] [EventRounds "7"] [EventCountry "USA"] [SourceDate "2018.01.13"]1. Nf3 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. g3 a6 4. Bg2 b5 5. d3 c5 6. O-O Bb7 7. cxb5 axb5 8. a4 d5 9. Bf4 Nbd7 10. Nc3 Nh5 11. Bg5 f6 12. Bd2 b4 13. Nb5 g6 14. e4 Be7 15. Nh4 O-O 16. exd5 Bxd5 17. Bxd5 exd5 18. Nf5 Ng7 19. Nxe7+ Qxe7 20. Re1 Ne6 21. Nc7 Ne5 22. Nxe6 1-0[/pgn]
While round one may have been routine for the GMs, round two featured two significant upsets as the two top seeded GMs both lost.  On board one of the four day schedule, GM Daniel Naroditsky lost to NM Michael Aigner, who is also known to Chess Life readers as f-pawn.
[pgn][Event "2018 Golden State Open"] [Site "Concord"] [Date "2018.01.13"] [Round "2.8"] [White "Aigner, Michael"] [Black "Naroditsky, Daniel"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "C18"] [WhiteElo "2218"] [BlackElo "2698"] [PlyCount "89"] [EventDate "2018.01.13"] [EventRounds "7"] [EventCountry "USA"] [SourceDate "2018.01.13"]1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. e5 c5 5. a3 Bxc3+ 6. bxc3 Qa5 7. Bd2 Qa4 8. Qb1 c4 9. f4 Ne7 10. Nf3 Nbc6 11. g3 Bd7 12. Bh3 O-O-O 13. O-O Kb8 14. Qb2 Rdf8 15. Rf2 h6 16. Raf1 f6 17. exf6 Rxf6 18. Re1 Nc8 19. Rfe2 Nd6 20. Ne5 Bc8 21. Nxc6+ Qxc6 22. Qb4 Ne4 23. Bg2 b6 24. Rxe4 dxe4 25. Bxe4 Qd7 26. Qxc4 Bb7 27. Bxb7 Kxb7 28. Re5 Qc6 29. Qd3 Rd8 30. c4 Rc8 31. c5 Rf5 32. Rxf5 exf5 33. Qxf5 bxc5 34. d5 Qb5 35. Bc3 Qe2 36. Bxg7 Rc7 37. Bf8 Qe1+ 38. Kg2 Qe2+ 39. Kh3 Qf1+ 40. Kh4 Qe2 41. h3 Qe8 42. d6 Rf7 43. Qd5+ Kb6 44. Be7 a6 45. Qe6 1-0[/pgn]
Meanwhile on board one of the three day schedule, GM Dragun lost to IM Vincent McCambridge.  As the schedules merge, there were ten perfect scores:  GMs Andrey Stukopin, Conrad Holt, & Ruifeng Li, IMs Cameron Wheeler & Vincent McCambridge, FMs Teemu Virtanen, Dale Haessel, NMs Michael Aigner, and Sijing Wu & Kenneth Hills.  The results of the perfect scores in round three were mostly decisive with one notable exception.  Stukopin had black and drew rather quickly with Virtanen while in the rest of the games the favorite won the game.  That left two GMs Holt and Li with IMs Wheeler & McCambridge entering round four with perfect scores. Li drew with Wheeler while Holt beat McCambridge to emerge as the only perfect score at 4-0.  However, there were ten other players following at 3-1 led by GM Dragun, GM Naroditsky, IM Harmon-vellotti, IM McCambridge, and IM Teddy Coleman. In round five, Holt would face Li on board one with the black pieces while Stukopin faced Wheeler on board 2.  Li defeated Holt, and Stukopin defeated Wheeler to emerge as the leaders going into the last day.  The leaders were being chased by several players hoping to catch up.  Dragun, Naroditsky, and McCambridge won, but Hamon-vellotti drew while Coleman was upset by Alex Kolay.
[pgn][Event "2018 Golden State Open"] [Site "Concord"] [Date "2018.01.14"] [Round "5.1"] [White "Li, Ruifeng"] [Black "Holt, Conrad"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "A01"] [WhiteElo "2665"] [BlackElo "2679"] [PlyCount "109"] [EventDate "2018.01.13"] [EventRounds "7"] [EventCountry "USA"] [SourceDate "2018.01.13"]1. b3 d5 2. Bb2 Bg4 3. f3 Bd7 4. e4 e6 5. Nh3 Nc6 6. Nf2 Qe7 7. Bb5 Qg5 8. Qe2 O-O-O 9. O-O Bc5 10. Bxc6 Bxc6 11. d4 Bb6 12. e5 Nh6 13. Qd2 Qxd2 14. Nxd2 Nf5 15. c3 Ne3 16. Rfc1 f6 17. a4 a5 18. Nd3 Be8 19. Kf2 Nf5 20. Re1 Bf7 21. Rac1 Rhe8 22. Ba3 c6 23. g4 Ne7 24. Bd6 Ng6 25. Kg3 fxe5 26. Bxe5 Nxe5 27. Nxe5 Bg8 28. f4 c5 29. dxc5 Bxc5 30. b4 Bb6 31. Nb3 axb4 32. cxb4+ Kb8 33. a5 Bc7 34. Nc5 Bxe5 35. Rxe5 Bf7 36. b5 d4 37. Rd1 Rd5 38. Rxd5 exd5 39. Nd7+ Kc7 40. Ne5 Be6 41. Rxd4 Kd6 42. a6 Kc5 43. Rd1 bxa6 44. bxa6 Kb6 45. Ra1 Bc8 46. a7 Bb7 47. h4 d4 48. Kf2 Rc8 49. Nd7+ Kc6 50. Rb1 Rd8 51. Nc5 Kxc5 52. Rxb7 Ra8 53. Ke2 Re8+ 54. Kd2 Ra8 55. Rxg7 1-0[/pgn]
In the penultimate round, the tournament leaders Li and Stukopin drew quickly.  Naroditsky defeated McCambridge. Holt defeated Kolay. And, Dragun was paired down a score group and defeated Jack Zhu.  This set up a five way tie going into the last round with the top five seeds of the tournament: GMs Dragun, Naroditsky, Stukopin, Holt, and Li. Li had opted for a last round bye due to an early flight.  This meant that Stukopin would play Dragun on board one, and Holt would play Naroditsky on board two.  NM Siddarth Banik had 4 ½ points and could tie for first if both boards ended in draws and he could beat IM Wheeler.


Banik did in fact defeat Wheeler, and Holt and Naroditsky did draw.  However, Dragun defeated Stukopin to finish at 6-1 and clear first.  Naroditsky, Holt, Li, and Banik tied for second at 5 ½ - 1 ½.

[pgn][Event "Golden State Open"] [Site "?"] [Date "2018.01.15"] [Round "7.1"] [White "Stukopin, Andrey"] [Black "Dragun, Kamil"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "B80"] [WhiteElo "2688"] [BlackElo "2707"] [PlyCount "72"] [EventDate "2018.??.??"] [SourceDate "2018.01.13"]1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Be3 e6 7. f3 b5 8. Qd2 Bb7 9. g4 Nfd7 10. a4 bxa4 11. g5 Nc5 12. Nxa4 Nxa4 13. Rxa4 Be7 14. h4 d5 15. h5 Nd7 16. h6 g6 17. Qc3 e5 18. exd5 Bxd5 19. Nc6 Bxc6 20. Qxc6 O-O 21. Rg1 Rc8 22. Qd5 Rxc2 23. Rxa6 Nb8 24. Qxd8 Rxd8 25. Rb6 Nc6 26. Rg4 Nd4 27. Bxd4 exd4 28. Bd3 Rh2 29. Kd1 Ra8 30. Ra6 Rb8 31. Rxd4 Bxg5 32. f4 Bxh6 33. b4 Bg7 34. Rd7 Bc3 35. b5 Rd2+ 36. Kc1 Re8 0-1[/pgn]
The under 2300 prize was won by Alex Kolay with a score of 4-3.  After taking a first round half point bye and then winning in round 2, he was paired up every round over two hundred points including a GM, an IM, two FMs, and one NM.  He picked up 45 rating point this weekend! All the under sections were also won with scores of 6-1.  Some were clear winners, and others were co-champions.  In the Under 1500 section, Harishankar Raghunath was the only player to enter the last round with a perfect score.  He was already a point ahead of the competition and secured at least a tie for first.  He did lose the last round and had to settle for being co-champion. The mixed doubles competition was won by a familiar team.  Ruifeng and Rachael Li both started with 5 out of 6 and opted for last round byes in order to catch a plane.  They each tied for second in their sections, but their mixed doubles team won clear first. Just like the regular event, the blitz event ended in a large tie for first with the top seeds all in the tie.  Derek O’Connor, Ezra Chambers, Saik Tsogtsaikhan, Anthony Blessing and John Wang all scored 6-2 to tie for first. Wang took the $69 Under 2100 prize while the rest split first and second place for $43.13. The section winners were:

Under 2100

Brendyn Estolas, 6-1, $1700

Under 1800

Daniel, Kou, 6-1, $1700

Under 1500

Harishankar Raghunath & Jason Fu, 6-1, $1050

Under 1200

Max Hao, 6-1, $1000

Mixed Doubles

Rachael Li & Ruifeng Li, 11-3, $500 each

Blitz Tournament

Derek O’Connor, Ezra Chambers, Saik Tsogtsaikhan, Anthony Blessing & John Wang, 6-2.

NTD David Hater directed for Continental Chess Association assisted by NTDs John McCumiskey and Tom Langland. Full tournament details can be found at Previous Continental Chess tournaments can be found at the Continental Chess website at

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