“That Other Tournament” in Saint Louis

While coverage was rightfully focused on the U.S. Championship and U.S. Women’s Championship just completed in St. Louis, there was another tournament in town that also drew some attention.

The 23rd Annual Mid-America Open was held in Clayton, Missouri on March 22-24th, just a few miles from the Saint Louis Chess Club. While the Mid-America didn’t draw quite as many grandmasters, the event drew ten GMs, four IMs, and three FMs, with a total of 329 players across six sections.  One of these GMs was Timur Gareyev, who was also playing in the U.S. Championship.


Much has been written about Gareyev’s decision to play in both events; here, we stick to the facts. This is Gareyev’s Round 1 game from the Mid-America, played at a time control of G/60 with a 10 second increment against Aria Hoesley. He opted for a half point bye in round two of the Mid-America.

Had Hoesley chosen to play until mate, she might have caused Gareyev to forfeit at the U.S. Championship. As things stood, Gareyev was 27 minutes late for his game against GM Sam Sevian.  Even though he got back in time and eventually drew, Gareyev had to hold a rook and bishop vs. rook ending until move 117 to do it!  This caused him to forfeit round three at the Mid-America and end his simultaneous exhibition.

Still, after drawing with Sevian, Gareyev returned to the Mid-America Open to play in the blitz tournament.  After starting 6-0, he lost to NM Julian Proleiko in the last double-round and had to settle for a shared second place.

While Gareyev was creating a lot of buzz for the event, there was plenty of excitement in the games actually being played.  Top seed GM Lazaro Bruzon Batista lost to NM Nicholas Rosenthal in round one.  In round two, GM Jayaram drew with NM Thomas Polgar-Shutzman.  And the top five boards in round three were all decisive! GM Andrew Tang’s win over NM Grabinsky was the most interesting of the bunch.

Andrew Tang

Round four was completely different than the previous round, with all the 3-0 score group drawing.  NM Jason Wang joined the leaders in somewhat unusual fashion. He was the beneficiary of Gareyev’s forfeit to get to 2.5 and he then defeated NM Roman Kozelov to get to 3.5/4.

Round five was the money round, and people fought for their places on the leaderboard. Kovalyov defeated Quesada on board one.

On board two Durarbayli defeated Wang.  The game was very interesting.  Durarbayli sacrificed a piece on move 12 and then followed it up with an exchange sacrifice on move 18.  The sacrifice may not have been entirely sound, but it was incredibly complicated, and Durarbayli managed to brought home the full point on move 40.

Durarbayli, Kovalyov, and Tang (who defeated Shimanov) finished in a three way tie for first at 4.5/5.  Each won $1200 with Durarbayli winning an extra $100 for the best tiebreaks.  GMs Batista, Jayaram and IM Drozdowski scored 4-1 to split fourth place and take $133.34.

Class winners included:

Under 2100

Hemachandra Rhamba & Jared Taylor, 4.5/5, $1100

Under 1900

Ako Heidari, 4.5/5, $1500

Under 1700

Angelo Fleming, Malik Brewley & Ian Jackson, 4.5/5, $866.67

Under 1500

Xueyi Chen & Max Xu, 4.5/5, $900

Under 1250

Chengxi Li, 5-0, $900

Mixed Doubles

Jenna Song and Samuel Chen, 8-2, $400 each player

Blitz Tournament

NM Julian Proleiko, 8-0, $145

NTD David Hater directed for Continental Chess Association assisted by Bill Buklis, Jeff Smith, and Steve Plotnick.

Full tournament details can be found at www.midamericaopen.com.

Previous Continental Chess tournaments can be found at the Continental Chess website at  http://www.chesstour.com/cross.html.


  1. Why is the SM (Senior Master) label never used ? Why still refer to 2350-2400 USCF players as NMs ?

  2. Hoesley really stomped Gareyev! This guy is a GM, but it seems to me that his reputation is very inflated if he can be so easily rolled by an “A” player.

  3. Why did Wang play on a piece down in an ending for so long? Is he a child who hasn’t learned good etiquette yet?

  4. As to why Wang played on, the real question is why are you so quick to quit? Is it really considered poor etiquette to force your opponent to win? How do you know they will not blunder? Your opponent is human after all. Didn’t we see this in the world championship this year? Carlsen couldn’t beat Caruana outright in the classical games. And relied on the tiebreak to retain his title. Now yes he was smart and fell back on his real strength to win, but somehow the victory seems hollow. But to my point no one is perfect not even Carlsen. So instead of brow beating Wang for playing on and accusing him if poor etiquette, perhaps some soul searching as to why you give up so easily.

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