The 15th Southern Class Championship was held March 24th to 26th at the Wyndham Resort in Orlando, Florida. There were 218 players in seven sections. The master section was small at only 14 players, but featured two GMs, two FMs, and a total of seven over 2200. The surprises started in round one. In the three day schedule, there were almost not enough players to have a round. There were three advance entries, but one requested a bye for round one. Also, prior to registration closing, another player notified us that he was stuck in traffic and would change to the 2 day schedule. This left one player, FM Jayaraman, who was the top seed in the three day schedule.
Fortunately, another player registered, and we had one game! The player who registered presented us with an interesting case. The rules of the tournament provide that a player can play up one section. Victor Rodriguez claimed to have been an expert in the Puerto Rican Chess Federation rating system, but that rating system no longer exists. He player has a very small number of games both in USCF and FIDE playing somewhat strong players, but losing them all. We accepted his claim of being an expert 20 years ago and allowed him to play in the top section. While he lost all his games, he played competitively in all of them. It looks like he really is just a somewhat out of practice former expert. In the two day schedule, the top seeded GM Yunieskiy Quesada Perez gave up a draw to Corey Acor while the second seeded GM Aryam Abreu lost to Carlos Andretta, an expert who was playing up. Fourth seeded John Ludwig surrendered a draw to Carter Peatman while fifth seeded Deepak Aaron lost to Goran Markovic.
The second round pairing in the three day schedule was forced—Jayaraman had to play Ravindra Wijesundera who took the bye in round one, and Rodriguez had the bye. The pairings for round two in the two day schedule were unusual. There were four players who won, and three of them were experts who chose to play up a section! FM Yans Barrios drew with Goran Markovic in round two. They played to K and R versus K and R and played several more moves before agreeing to a draw! Andretta got paired down even though he was playing up a section and beat a GM in round one. Andretta played expert Jackie Liu, who had the bye in round one. Andretta won and emerged as the only perfect score in the two day schedule!
In round three, Jayaraman and Andretta drew. Quesada Perez beat Girones Barrios in round three to join the leaders. Perez maneuvers around, gets to an opposite colored bishop ending, then transitions to a queen and pawn ending, and eventually wins in 94 moves.
Andretta now was leading the tournament with a 2700+ GM and an FM all with 2 ½ out of 3! On Sunday morning, Andretta was on board one against Perez—an over 500 point rating difference that you hardly ever see in a class tournament. Perez won to maintain the tournament lead. Amazingly, Andretta then withdrew even though he was still in contention for a prize! Jayaraman also won, defeating John Ludwig.
Perez and Jayaraman faced off in round five. Both were due black, but Perez got his due color. Perez outrated Jayaraman by 400 points, but a draw secured a tie for first and a quick draw occurred. Corey Accor had a chance to join the first place tie, but he would have to beat Abreu with the black pieces. That didn’t happen, so Acor, Abreu, Ludwig and Barrios all tied for third with 3 points.
The expert section also ended in a two way tie for 1st at four points. Theodore Slade and Martin Hansen have identical ratings 2150 and finished with identical records three wins, two draws (though one of Hansen’s was a half point bye). The two players drew each other in round four. Slade has been racking up wins in CCA tournaments in Orlando. He won the Under 2100 section of the Southern Open last year and tied for 2nd in the Southern Class last year. His rating has been steadily climbing and is approaching master. In round 3, he defeated Vedic Panda. Slade offered a draw on move 19, which was declined. Panda offered on move 28 and, this time Slade declined and went on to win.
Class B had an unrated player tie for 1st. Qinggu Zhu finished with 4 ½ points and tied for first with Thomas Suh. Zhu was limited to a prize of $500, so Suh was able to take the entire first prize of $1000 and Zhu got the entire second prize of $500. Suh played the Swiss gambit, as he drew in round one and then went 4-0. He almost played the USCF membership gambit as he somehow slipped through our automated registration process with an expired USCF membership! However, this was discovered, and he dutifully renewed, so his rating points are safe!
In Class E, there were two 5-0 scores. There was a chance that there would be two 5-0 scores that would be brothers. Joshua and James Alton both started 4-0. They were joined by Jacob Parker. Fortunately, in the last round the brothers would not play. Parker played Joshua Alton, while James Alton played Kevin Liu, who was the only player at 3 ½. James won, but Parker beat Joshua, preventing the Alton sweep.
There were two prizewinners who I will not mention by name, but who almost didn’t make it to the winner’s circle. One friend typed the words “Illegal Move” on his cellphone and then showed it to his friend who was on move! Obviously the opponent didn’t think highly of this and complained to the TD! After some investigation, it was determined that there was no illegal move. The player transmitting the information didn’t know any better! Both players got a dressing down from the TD who explained the rules and the potential consequences. It was an honest, innocent mistake, but it could have cost both players dearly! They both were remorseful, learned a valuable lesson, and everybody had a good laugh when they picked up the check. The player receiving the unhelpful advice wound up losing that particular game anyway. I pointed out to both players that they were very lucky that their violation of the rules didn’t cost them anything, and that relying on luck is not a good plan!
The section winners were:
Theodore Slade & Martin Hansen, 4-1, $750
Dylan Todfiels, 4 ½ – ½, $1000
Thomas Suh $1000 & Qingyu Zhu $500, both 4 ½ – ½
Teodor Malendevych & John-Gabriel Diego Bermudez, 4-1, $750
Brian Serve, 5-0, $800
James Alton & Jacob Parker, 5-0, $375
GM Yun Quesada Perez & Vi0leta Atseva, 7 ½ – 2 ½, $200 each
Corey Acor & Joshua Harrison, 7-1 $91.88
NTD David Hater directed for CCA assisted by Harvey Lerman & Krista Alton.
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