Mitkov and Liang Top the 26th Annual Midwest Class

Awonder Liang at the U.S. Junior Championship, where he ultimately won clear 1st. Photo: US Championship Website
The 26thAnnual Midwest Class Championship was held from October 6th to 8th in the Chicago suburb of Wheeling, IL and drew 333 players pursuing the $20,000 guaranteed prize fund.   The Premier section featured four GMs, two IMs, seven FMs, and a total of 30 of the 57 players were rated over 2200. In round one, the tournament started in a fairly normal fashion.  All of the titled players won their games, and there were very few upsets at all.  However, in round two of both the 2-day and the 3-day schedules, there were numerous draws on the top boards, and the number of perfect scores dwindled very rapidly. When the merge occurred, there were only five players at 2-0:  GM Nikola Mitkov, IM Angelo Young, FM Zhaozhi (George) Li, FM Justus Williams, and NM Aydin Turgut. IM Young entered the tournament with a half point bye scheduled for round 3, so only boards one and two would have perfect scores in round 3.  Mitkov defeated Justus Williams to emerge as the only perfect score as Li and Turgut drew. This setup a significant logjam going into Sunday.  While Mitkov was the only player at 3-0, he was closely followed by twelve players at 2 ½ points.  There were no quick draws in round four as the sheer number of players at 2 ½ points forced players to press for wins. Board one did end in a draw after several hours of play as Mitkov drew with GM Priyadharshan Kannappan.  On board two, GM Awonder Liang defeated FM Gauri Shanker to catch up with Mitkov.  Also joining the leader group was IM Eric Rosen, who defeated NM Gopal Menon, and NM Jacob Furfine, who defeated FM Mauro Ampie. This set up an interesting round five finale.  There were four players at 3 ½:  GMs Liang and Mitkov, IM Rosen and NM Furfine.  The GMs would both have black in the last round.  Because there were ten players sitting at 3-1, the difference between a win and a draw would be substantial. Liang beat IM Rosen on board one to secure his piece of first place.
[pgn][Event "Midwest Class"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2017.10.08"]
[Round "5.1"]
[White "Rosen, Eric"]
[Black "Liang, Awonder"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "A45"]
[WhiteElo "2445"]
[BlackElo "2652"]
[PlyCount "146"]
[EventDate "2017.??.??"]1. d4 Nf6 2. Bf4 c5 3. e3 g6 4. Nc3 Bg7 5. d5 O-O 6. Nf3 Qa5 7. Qd2 d6 8. Be2
a6 9. O-O b5 10. a3 Bg4 11. h3 Bxf3 12. Bxf3 Nbd7 13. e4 Nb6 14. Rfb1 Nc4 15.
Qe1 Nd7 16. Bd2 Bd4 17. Be2 Nxd2 18. Qxd2 f5 19. Rf1 fxe4 20. Qg5 Nf6 21. Nd1
Kg7 22. c3 h6 23. Qd2 Be5 24. f4 exf3 25. Bxf3 Qa4 26. Nf2 Qh4 27. Nd3 Nd7 28.
Qe1 Qg5 29. h4 Qg3 30. Qxg3 Bxg3 31. h5 g5 32. Nf2 Bxf2+ 33. Rxf2 Ne5 34. Be2
c4 35. a4 Rab8 36. Rxf8 Kxf8 37. Kf2 bxa4 38. Rxa4 Rxb2 39. Rxa6 Rb3 40. Ra8+
Kf7 41. Rh8 Rxc3 42. Rxh6 g4 43. Rh7+ Kf6 44. Rh6+ Kg7 45. Re6 Kf7 46. h6 Rc1
47. Kg3 Rg1 48. Bxg4 Nxg4 49. h7 Rh1 50. Kxg4 Rxh7 51. Re4 Rg7+ 52. Kf4 Rxg2
53. Rxc4 Re2 54. Kf3 Re5 55. Rd4 Ke8 56. Kf4 Kd7 57. Rd1 Kc7 58. Rc1+ Kb6 59.
Rc6+ Kb7 60. Rc1 Rxd5 61. Ke4 Rc5 62. Ra1 Kc7 63. Ra7+ Kd8 64. Kd4 Ke8 65. Ra8+
Kf7 66. Rh8 e5+ 67. Ke4 Rc4+ 68. Kd3 Rd4+ 69. Ke3 Ke6 70. Re8+ Kd5 71. Ra8 Rc4
72. Ra5+ Rc5 73. Ra3 Rc6 0-1[/pgn]
On board two, Mitkov defeated Furfine to secure the tie for first.  Both Mitkov and Liang earned $1500 for their efforts, with Mitkov winning an additional $100 for better tiebreaks.
[pgn][Event "Midwest Class"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2017.10.08"]
[Round "5.2"]
[White "Furfine, Jacob"]
[Black "Mitkov, Nikola"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "D00"]
[WhiteElo "2334"]
[BlackElo "2530"]
[PlyCount "78"]
[EventDate "2017.??.??"]1. d4 d5 2. Nc3 Bf5 3. Bf4 e6 4. f3 Bd6 5. Bxd6 Qxd6 6. e4 Bg6 7. Qd2 c6 8.
O-O-O Nd7 9. h4 h6 10. Nge2 Ne7 11. Nf4 O-O-O 12. Nxg6 Nxg6 13. h5 Ne7 14. Kb1
Kb8 15. e5 Qc7 16. f4 a6 17. g4 c5 18. dxc5 Nxc5 19. Bd3 Qb6 20. a3 Rc8 21. f5
Nc6 22. f6 gxf6 23. exf6 Rcg8 24. Bg6 Ne5 25. Qh2 Qc7 26. Rde1 Nxg6 27. hxg6
Qxh2 28. Rxh2 Rxg6 29. Reh1 Nd7 30. Ne2 Nxf6 31. g5 Rxg5 32. Rxh6 Rxh6 33. Rxh6
Rf5 34. Nd4 Rf1+ 35. Ka2 e5 36. Nb3 Kc7 37. c3 Rf2 38. a4 Ne4 39. Ka3 Nd6 0-1[/pgn]
The Midwest Class is designed slightly differently than other class tournaments.  The sections are all 400 points (well actually 399), and players must play in a section according to their rating (no playing up).  However, the option to play up is already built in because the rating ranges overlap:  1700-2099, 1500-1999, 1300-1699, 1100-1599, Under 1300 and Under 1100.  A player has two sections to choose from.  If he chooses one section, he will be in the bottom half of the 400 point range, but if he chooses the other, he would be in the top half of the 400 point range. The 1700-2099 section featured one of the tournament’s 5-0 scores.  Tom Bareket was rated at 1858 and was seeded at 18th of the 37 players.  He could have opted for the 1500-1999 section and been in the top half.  However, he chose the 1700-2099 and was in the bottom half.  It didn’t matter, though, as he went 5-0 and took clear first place.  He only needed a draw in the last round to take clear first, but he won to finish with a perfect score pulling off three upsets in the process and gaining 126 rating points in the process. The other 5-0 score came from the Under 1100 section and also featured a player from the lower half of the wall chart.   Samuel Harris was rated 803 and was seeded 27th of the 54 players.  He was paired up all five rounds and went 5-0, picking up 363 rating points!  His first place was worth $500 and his 5-0 score paced his mixed doubles team to clear first and earned him another $400! The section winners were:

Tom Bareket, 5-0, $1400


William Blackman & Tuoyu Yang, 4 ½ - ½. $1050


Samuel Horvath, Kenneth Kotowsky, & Harry Heller, 4 ½ - ½. $800


Rohit Guha, Patrick Mccluskey, & Hunter Reed, 4 ½ - ½, $733.33

Under 1300

Alexander Griffin, 4 ½ - ½. $1000

Under 1100

Samuel Harris, 5-0, $500

Mixed Doubles

Samuel Harris & Ramya Elangovan, 8 ½ -1 ½, $400 each

Blitz Tournament

FM Zhaozhi Li, 8-0, $150

            NTD David Hater directed for CCA assisted by Jeff Wiewel, Bill Buklis, and Steve Plotnick. Full tournament details can be found at Previous Continental Chess tournaments can be found at the Continental Chess website at