Grandmasters and Hopefuls Seek Gold in the Bay

Several GMs and other chess stars descended on San Francisco over Martin Luther King Day weekend.  The first major event was the Golden State Open held over MLK weekend which drew 274 players (counts re-entries but not house players).  Among the players were six GMs, four IMs, four FMs and one WIM.  The tournament strength was undoubtedly helped by the Chinggis 2nd Invitational which is a 10 player round robin with 7 GMs, 2 IMs, and 1 CM.  Three of the players in the round robin (including two of the three co-champions) played in the Golden State Open

The Golden State Open ended in a three way tie for first between GMs Andrey Stukopin, Eugene Perelshteyn, and IM Andrey Gorovets.  Each won $1766.67 and Stukopin received an extra $100 for his superior tiebreaks.  All scored 5 1/2 points.  Tying for 4th-7th with 5-2 were GMs Oliver Barbosa, Batchuluun Tsegmed, IM Darwin Yang and Siddharth Banik.  Siddharth won $1000 for the Under 2300 prize while the others won $267.67.

Stukopin started 4-0 and then “coasted” into first place with three draws.  He played the strongest competition (2 GMs, 2 IMs, 1 FM, 2 masters) and his tiebreaks reflected that.  He was the tournament’s top seed, starting on board 1 and never relinquishing it.  Stukopin is now a student at University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (formerly University of Texas -Brownsville).  When not leading his team to the chess final four, he is a computer science major and travels to various high level tournaments. Here is his fourth round victory over GM Oliver Barbosa.

Another Texas College first board also tied for first.  IM Andrey Gorovets was the tournament’s second seed.  He plays first board for Texas Tech which recently won the Pan-American Inter-Collegiate.  He started a bit slow ceding two draws in his first four rounds.  Amazingly, he drew with white and won with black!  Then he played 3 GMs and scored 2 1/2.  One has to like his chances for a GM norm in the invitational.  In round four Gorovets defeats GM Niclas Huschenbeth with a nice sacrificial mating attack.

In the last round Gorovets defeated GM Batchuluun Tsegmed to catch Stukopin and Perelshteyn for first place.

The only non-Texas college student in the tie (and the only one not playing in the GM invitational) is GM Eugene Perelshteyn.  Like Gorovets, he also started with 3/4 and then finished with 2 1/2 in the last three.  Perelshteyn faced 3 GMs and scored 2/3.  Here is Perelshsteyn’s round two win over FM Andy Lee.


One of the more interesting games from round one was from Michael Aigner (aka “f-pawn”) versus GM Niclas Huschenbeth in round one. The GM obtains an edge with black.  Later he sacrifices a piece for three pawns. Aigner was better/winning for a time and then the game ends in perpetual check!

Class players are often overshadowed by titled players, but every tournament produces interesting games and stories from all levels.  This year A player Jerry Mays returned to tournament chess after a prolonged absence from tournaments,  Even though he is a life member, he has no events since 1991 until this last year!  He was eligible for the Under 2000 section, but played up two sections and scored a very respectable 3-4.

His enthusiasm for the game was infectious and when he pulled off an upset over a master you would have thought he just won he tournament. Even though his opponent was a bit too aggressive, upsets are always part of the excitement of tournament competition.

Derek Zhang dominated the Under 2200 section.  He finished in clear first with 6 1/2 finishing a full point ahead of the field and pocketing $1500. He started 6-0 and was 1 1/2 points ahead of second place going into the last round thus guaranteed clear first even with a loss in the last round.    He then drew the last round.  Conventional wisdom says his last round draw was either a quick draw or his opponent pressed for the win.  Not the case!  Zhang’s opponent offered a draw (and was arguably better).  Zhang turned it down!  The game was lengthy and Zhang turned down a second draw offer late in the game, though the game was eventually drawn.  Top seeded player Leo Creger at 2199 tied for 5th after a roller coaster start.   He started the three day schedule with a loss which was somewhat caused by an incorrectly set clock.  He then drew two games and re-entered the two day schedule.  The problem was only two players entered the two day schedule!  The first round pairing was easy, but  Creger again started with a loss.  Now the tournament had a problem.  We needed players!  We recruited house players and Creger won his remaining three games in the two day schedule and won his first game after the merge before running into Zhang.  He then took 1 1/2 out of the final two tying for second and also tying for 3rd mixed double.

The Under 2000 section ended in a three way tie for first with Jesse Turner, Hovik Manvelyan, and Roger Buland scoring 5 1/2 and taking home $900.  Turner and Manyelvan occupied board 1 in the last round and drew and waited to see who would join them.  Buland won on board 2 to join the tie and while there was one other player with a chance, he could not deliver the win.

The Under 1800 section also featured a dominating performance.  Colin Albert scored 6 1/2 to finish a full pont ahead of the field and take home $1500.  Unlike Zhang, Albert entered the last round “only” ahead by one point since he drew round 6 and”only” had 5 1/2 out of 6, so he was “only” guaranteed a tie.  Perhaps with this extra motivation, Albert won his last round game to finish with 6 1/2.

Kyle Kai-yi Wu scored 5 1/2 to take clear first place and $1300 in the Under 1600 section.  Trevor Strearman and Kunal Shivastav also scored 5 1/2 in the Under 1400 section to take $675 each.  Avi Khannawon the Under 1200 section with a 6-1 score.

FM Cameron Wheeler and Aaron Grubinsky both scored 7 points in the blitz and earning $75.  One amusing anecdote from the blitz was bets on the over/under for the number of disputes in the last round. Apparently, the over/under was set at 1.5 (I don’t know how that compares with the Las Vegas line).  The actual number of disputes was apparently two, so if you bet the over, you won.

David Hater directed the event for Continental Chess Association assist by Tom Langland and John McCumiskey.  Full tournament details are at  Archives of previous CCA events are at


  1. Mea Culpa! IM Gorovets played 4th board for Texas Tech University at the recent Pan-American Inter-collegiate behind GM Yaro Zherebukh (1st board), GM Elshan Moradiabadi (2nd board), and GM Andriy Baryshpolets (3rd Board). My apologies to the entire TTU team for this inaccuracy.

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