Summer Chess Classic Winds Down With Nail-Biting Finish

The 2024 Summer Chess Classic concluded on Wednesday, June 5, at the Saint Louis Chess Center (SLCC) after nine rounds of play across two ten-player Round Robin tournaments. The first three rounds were covered in an earlier report, and there has been a lot of action since then.

In the A Group, GM Andrew Hong continued his winning ways, adding two more wins to separate himself from those on his tail. Entering the final round, Hong was in sole first with a 5½/8 score. After a nice win over GM Grigoriy Oparin in round five, Hong won a miniature against GM Mikhail Antipov in round six:



But consecutive draws in rounds seven and eight allowed three players to get within a half-point of Hong, including Oparin.


Image Caption
Hong photo courtesy Crystal Fuller/SLCC


Also joining in on the tie for second were familiar GMs Ray Robson and Awonder Liang. Below is Robson's tactically astute finish from his seventh-round victory:



For much of the last round, Hong found himself in hot water against GM Nikolas Theodorou, while none of the trailing trio could carve out an advantage in their respective games. Indeed, Hong did ultimately lose his game:



But just as the leaders were looking at a logjam, Robson pulled ahead in his game against Oparin:



As a result, Robson claimed clear first by a half-point.


2024 Summer Classic xtable


In the B group, GM Andy Woodward saw his early lead overtaken when GM Steven Zierk went on a tear. This was despite Woodward continuing his winning ways, making the most of practical chances, even in extreme time trouble:




Entering the final round, Zierk led all scorers with 6/8, a half-point ahead of Woodward. Despite this score, Zierk's games have been far from easy.


Image Caption
Zierk photo courtesy Crystal Fuller/SLCC


Consider both the come-from-behind win against a well-prepped GM Irina Krush and a grind-it-out endgame battle against GM Melikset Khachiyan, presented below:




With a draw in his ninth round game, the only remaining question was whether Woodward could catch up to Zierk for a share of the title. Once again, a surprisingly strong tactical rejoinder from a relatively tame position turned the tables for Woodward:



Woodward's win forced a blitz tiebreak. After drawing the first game, Zierk broke through in the second to claim the title:



2024 Summer Classic B xtable


All games and results are available on