Three of a Kind – Continental Chess Events from Coast to Coast

Chicago Class Champion. IM George Li

On the weekend of July 20-22, Continental Chess Association held three separate events that collectively drew 712 players and awarded $62,500 in prizes!  In all, there were seven GMs, seven IMs, ten FMs and a lot of fighting chess.

Chicago Class

The largest of the three tournaments was the Chicago Class.  It comprised roughly half of the total with a guaranteed prize fund of $30,000 and 355 players.  The anomaly with the Chicago Class was the two day schedule.  There were seven players in the two day schedule, but six were GMs.  After the bye, that meant three GMs got paired up in round one.  All three GM vs. GM games were decisive as GM Alex Shimanov defeated GM Ashwin Jayaraman, GM Priyadarshan Kannappan defeated GM Nikola Mitkov and GM Vladimir Georgiev defeated GM Fidel Corrales Jiminez.

Meanwhile in the three day schedule, the three day top seed IM Zhaozhi (George) Li played one of his best games as he defeated one of his long time rivals NM Matthew Stevens.

The second round was not much better for the GMs as there were still all GM pairings and in the one non-GM pairing, the GM lost!  NM Vincent Do defeated third seeded GM Priyadarshan Kannappan.  GMs Alex Shimanov and Vladimir Georgiev drew with each other, so the only player to emerge from the two day schedule with a perfect score was the lowest seeded player and the only non-GM:  NM Vincent Do.  In round two, GM Mitkov got the bye as the lowest rated player in the 0-1 scoregroup!  One shocking score was second seeded GM Fidel Corrales Jiminez – he was 0-2 after losing to GMs Georgiev and Jayaraman.

In the three day schedule, IM Li got a very fortunate break.  He was down an exchange versus FM Vincent Tsay and was bordering on losing when Tsay flagged on move 37 of the first time control.  Tsay has neglected to set the 10 second delay on his clock and didn’t realize it until after his time expired!

When the merge occurred, there were five perfect scores:  IM George Li, FM Ben Li, FM Tansel Turgut and NMs Spencer Lehmann and Vincent Do.  IM Li defeated FM Turgut and FM Li drew with NM Lehman, so IM Li was the only perfect score.  NM Do was paired “down” to top seeded Alex Shimanov and drew.  After three rounds, IM Li had 3-0, while FM Li and NMs Do and Lehmann had 2 ½, and all of the GMs were at 2-1 or less.

In round 4, George Li defeated Ben Li to emerge at 4-0. Do lost to Spencer Lehman, so there was only one 3 ½: NM Spencer Lehmann.  Four players stood at 3-1 as GMs Shimanov, Kannappan, Georgiev and Jayaramin were chasing second place.

IM Li drew rather quickly with NM Lehman to ensure clear first with 4 ½ out of 5 and win $3100.  IM Li was the 7th seed behind six GMs, but he did not have to play a single GM!  Spencer would tie for second and could be joined by two GMs if boards 2 and 3 were decisive.  Kannappan defeated Shimanov on board two to join the tie.  Kannappan had a nice finish.  Can you spot how he concluded the game?

Shimanov vs. Kannappan

Black to move and win.

Lehman and Kannappan each won $1350.  Jayaraman and Georgiev drew a long game and could not get to 4 points.  They still were the only 3 ½ pointers and won $650 each.

The section winners were:


Maximilian Zinski, 5-0, $2000

Class A

Benjamin Liu, 4 ½ – ½, $2000

Class B

Ezekiel Houghton, Benjamin Spinello, and Max Matura, 4 ½ – ½, $1200

Class C

Michael Slosson, 5-0, $1800

Class D

Daniel Phipps $1500 and Harmon Bhasin, $200*, 4 ½ – ½,

Limited to $200 due to being unrated

Class E

Joshua Madsen and Jonathan Endres, 5-0, $600

Mixed Doubles

Shreya Mangalam and Nicholas Bartochowski, 7 ½ – 2 ½,, $500 each  

Blitz Tournament

Gauri Shankar, 7 ½ –  ½, $150

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

Full tournament details can be found at

Pacific Coast Open

The second largest of the three tournaments was the Pacific Coast Open.  It drew 257 players competing for the $25,000 guaranteed prize fund.  There was only one GM and GM Timur Gareyev went through the field to finish 5 ½ – ½ a full point ahead of his rivals and win the $3100.

The Pacific Coast Open had only 5 sections as opposed to seven in a true class tournament, so the sections were a bit larger.  The 37 player major section had six IMs and four FMs among the other players who would be in Gareyev’s way. Round one was fairly normal.  There was only one upset and the titled players mostly escaped unscathed.  However, 3rd overall seed IM Joshua Sheng surrendered a draw to NM Vijay Krishnamoorthy while FM Alexandre Kretchetov drew with Ming Lu.

By round two the titled players were starting to meet in the more top heavy two day schedule.  Gareyev had black versus IM Berik Akkozov and maintained his perfect score at 2-0 while IM Cameron Wheeler defeated IM Micharl Kleinman to also emerge as the only other perfect 2-0.

Gareyev had white against Wheeler in the last game prior to the merge and won to emerge as the only 3-0 score in the 2 day schedule. In the slower three day schedule, there was also also only one 3-0.  FM Kazim Gulamali defeated overall second seed John Bryant in round three to reach 3-0.

This set up the only perfect score matchup in the first game after the merge: Gulamali had white against Gareyev, but the GM won in what he considers one of the critical games of the tournament.  Gareyev provides some comments to that game:

Round five saw a very odd pairing. On board one, Gareyev would face the only player he would play who was rated below 2200.  Brandon Burrows started the event seeded in the bottom half at 21st of the 37 players rated 2176.  He took a half point bye in round one so that he could play in the 3 day schedule.  In round two, he was paired down and won, but then he pulled back-to-back upsets over NM Gabriel Sam and IM John Bryant to emerge as the only person chasing Gareyev by half a point.  Burrows would have white, but it would not be enough as Gareyev won to get to 5-0 and assure himself at least a tie for first with one round to go.  Burrows did not play the last round, but still gained 43 rating points to get back over 2200.

In round six, Gareyev only need a quick draw to take clear first and that is what happened.  Gareyev drew with IM Joshua Sheng to finish at 5 ½ – ½ and take $3100.  Sheng and Wheeler tied for second at 4 ½ – 1 ½ and each won $1250.

The section winners were:

Under 2100

Reann Ke and Serkan Salik, 5-1, $1500

Under 1900

Christopher Tyau, Prarthan Ghosh, and Fernando Sevilla, 5-1, $1167.67

Under 1700

Suren Mikoyan, Christopher Sheu, and Hiya Ghosh, 5-1, $933.34

Under 1500

Timothy Abadilla, 5 ½ – ½, $1600

Under 1250

Julia Wiley, 5 ½ – ½,  $800

Mixed Doubles

Avery Yu & Timur Gareyev and Hiya Ghosh & Priya Ghosh, 10-2, $375 each

Blitz Tournament

Vijay Krishnamoorthy, 7-1, $155

NTD Steve Immitt directed for Continental Chess Association assisted by Randy Hough and Dylan Quercia.

Full tournament details can be found at

Peter Henner Memorial

The last of the three events of the weekend was the Peter Henner Memorial.  It was smaller in size and prize fund than the others, but still had strong players and quality chess.  The tournament drew 95 players in four sections with a prize fund of $7500.

The tournament is in memory of Peter Henner who was an avid player in the Albany area.  An attorney by trade, he loved the game of chess and was a solid Class A player.  He gave back to the game by organizing some local tournaments as well as writing a chess column in “The Altamont Enterprise”, which won several awards from Chess Journalists of America.  Peter passed away in 2016 and will be sorely missed by the entire Central New York Chess Community.

The Major section had only 20 players, but there were two Senior Masters and two National Masters in the field.  In the end, the top two players finished tied for first with 4-1 scores and each won $750.  FM Hans Niemann and Senior Master Arslan Otchiyev both went undefeated and played a quick last round draw to secure first place.

Otchiyev started with a first round bye and then won his next three before drawing with Niemann in the last round. Niemann gave up a draw to another very talented junior in round 3.  Twelve-year-old Paris Prestia is presently rated 2140 and is the 13th highest ranked 12 year old in the country.  Paris has gained just over 1500 rating points in the four years since he started playing!

Though round one was fairly normal, there were two upsets scored by the Prestia family. Frank Prestia defeated Steven Taylor and Sebastian Prestia defeated Mark Schaeffer. With Paris Prestia’s win, it was a 3-0 day.  Arlan Otchiyev had taken a half point bye in round one, but due to the multiple schedules and small number of players, he found himself playing a master in round two.  He played third overall seed Igor Yeliseyev and brought home the full point.

Niemann had been cruising along with two wins and then drew with Paris Prestia in round 3.  Sunday morning, he won again against Jason Lu.

The section winners were:

Under 2010

Leonard Chipkin, Dennis Li, Henry Pu, and Ruizhong Wang, 4-1, $400

Under 1610

Joshua Taht, 4 ½ – ½, $700

Under 1210

Edward Xu, 5-0, $400

Mixed Doubles

Erin Strauts and Joshua That, 7 ½ – 2 ½, $100 each

Blitz Tournament

Ruizhong Wang, 7-1, $80

NTD Bob Messenger directed for Continental Chess Association assisted by Karl Heck.

Full tournament details can be found at

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

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