Swiss Gambit Pays Off at Southwest Class

GM Hovhannes Gabuzyan scored an impressive 7 ½ out of 9 to win the 10th Annual Southwest Class Championship and take home $3200.

GM Hovhannes Gabuzyan (photo Michael Regan)

The tournament’s third seed, Gabuzyan essayed the risky “Swiss Gambit” on his way to victory. He drew in rounds one and two with FM Christopher Shen and NM Jason Wang, and with IM Aleksandr Ostrovskiy in round five.  Gabuzyan won the remainder of his games over IMs Levy Rozman, Emil Stefanov, Erik Santarius, Titas Stremavicius, and FM Andrew Hong before winding up on board one in the last round with black versus top seeded GM Jeffery Xiong.

Leading the field by half a point, I’m sure Gabuzyan would have been happy with a draw to tie for first, but as Xiong needed to win, the game was a complicated struggle that Gabuzyan won.  Here is the crucial game:

Jeffery Xiong was the top seed and certainly played like it. Late round losses kept him out of the winner’s circle as he lost to second seeded GM Anton Kovalyov in round seven and third seeded Gabuzyan in the final round.  While he “only” tied for 5th at 6-3, Xiong produced some high quality wins along the way.  In the penultimate round Xiong defeated GM Angel Arribas to stay within striking distance of Gabuzyan, setting up the last round matchup on board one.

GM Anton Kovalyov was the second seed and his 7-2 score would be good for first place in many years; in fact Kovalyov won the 2018 Southwest Class with a score of 7-2.  He finished with five wins and four draws, but like Gabuzyan, he also did it in an unusual way.  Kovalyov also drew his first two rounds (against Mauro Ampie and IM Arthur Guo) but worked his way up the crosstable, defeating Xiong in round seven. Here is that critical game:

INSERT Kovalyov – Xiong

IM Brandon Jacobson also scored 7-2 to tie for second place which was worth $1600. Jacobson achieved a GM performance with a 2723 FIDE performance rating, but because he did not play the three necessary GM opponents, and because he had to miss a round due to illness, his performance did not quality for the GM norm. Still, Jacobson showed he is ready to advance to the next level and I would expect him to be making his norms very soon.  Here is his last round win over GM Kamil Dragun.

The crosstable gives the appearance of many norms being earned. This was somewhat true, but as it turned out, only one norm counted. IM Jacobson’s GM performance didn’t meet norm requirements, as mentioned above. FM Christopher Yoo took clear fourth with a score of 6 ½ – 2 ½ with an IM norm, but because Yoo’s IM application is pending, this norm was just icing on the cake. Similarly, FM Andrew Hong’s score of 5 ½ – 3 ½ would be good for an IM norm, but Hong also has three IM norms.  Since both Hong and Yoo are above 2400 FIDE, their titles should be confirmed at the next meeting.

The norm that mattered is for IM David Brodsky who made a GM norm with a score of 6-3.  Brodsky played five GMs (scoring 2 ½ out of 5) and three IMs (scoring 2 ½ out of 3) to achieve a FIDE 2621 performance and a norm.  Brodsky was paired up every round after his round one win, so he should pickup some rating points which will get him closer to the FIDE 2500 rating necessary for the GM title.  He also won $211.11 for his efforts, but I suspect this was far less important to him.  Here is Brodsky’s last round win over IM Kacper Drozdowski, sealing the deal for the GM norm.

The 10th edition of the Southwest Class was the largest in its history, drawing 417 total players. The 84 player Master section including 10 GMs, 23 IMs, 15 FMs, one WGM, one WIM and a total of 55 players rated 2200+ FIDE, all of whom were competing for a $33,000 guaranteed prize fund. But the Masters weren’t the only ones going home with some money! Other section winners were:


Nguyen Li, Segev Eliezer, Hirem Premkumar, 5 ½ – 1 ½, $1166.67

Class A

Miguel Garcia, 6-1, $2000

Class B

Brendan Heneghan, 6-1, $804

Class C

Luis Jimenez and Steven Gray, 6-1, $1300

Class D

Patrick Wang and Xueyi Chen, 6-1, $600

Class E

Grace Wang, 6 ½  – ½, $800

Mixed Doubles

Grace Wang and Eric Wang, 10-4, $500 to each player

Blitz Tournament

IM Advait Patel, 7 ½ – ½, $135

NTD Steve Immitt directed for Continental Chess Association assisted by David Hater, Brian Yang, Rob Jones, and Anthony Guerra.

Full tournament details can be found at

Previous Continental Chess tournaments can be found at the Continental Chess website at


  1. I take it that Xiong’s theory was that if only he could control d5, the 32 dark squares wouldn’t matter.

  2. This was a such a wonderful tournament to play in. Kudos to the organizers, tournament directors, and hotel staff! I have one beef with this article though. How can the author state that only one norm counted? I earned the final norm necessary to secure my 4th Category US Chess title! All kidding aside though, this was a wonderful tournament and this article sums up much of the fun and excitement that it was like to participate in it. I’m already looking forward to playing in it next year!

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