Three-way Tie at the Western Class Championship

Melikset Khachiyan, 1st place winner by tiebreaks, at the 2013 U.S. Championships. Photo: Tony Rich

The Western Class Championship was held in the Los Angeles suburb of Van Nuys and featured a very strong Masters section with two GMs, six IMs, one WGM, one WIM and two FMs.  Overall, 26 of the 30 players were above 2200.   The restriction on only being able to play up one class led to more of a class section.  There were seven sections and the tournament was very well attended with 259 players in attendance.

In the first round of the Master section, there were no upsets as the higher rated player “held serve” in every game.  There were two pairings in the two day schedule involving titled players:  WGM Atousa Pourkashiyan defeated IM Anthony Saidy while IM Andranik Matikozyan defeated WIM Annie Wang.

In round two, the top seeds started playing each other, which produced excellent chess and fighting chess on all the top boards of each schedule.  The game of the round was board one of the three day schedule.  IM Keaton Kiewra defeated GM Ruifeng Li in one of the most exciting games of the tournament.  We had to devote a TD to crowd control just to give the players some space as everybody was interested in the game!

IM John Bryant, Western Class Co-Champion, at the 2016 Southern California Open. Photo: Irina Nizmutdinova

Other notable pairings were IM John Bryant defeated WGM Pourkashiyan on board one of the two day schedule while IM Matikozyan defeated IM Joshua Sheng on board two.  Going into round three, five of the top six seeds were still 2-0, the lone exception being the tournament’s top seed: GM Li.  The five top seeded players were joined by ninth seeded Senior Master Lokesh Palani, who was also in the perfect score group.

Round three was not nearly as exciting.  The top three boards were all draws.  The players all played for advantages, but they were also being careful.  GM Melikset Khachiyan drew Palani on board one, IM Matikozyan drew IM Andrey Gorovets on board two, and IM Kiewra drew IM Bryant on board three.   There were two players following the leaders at 1 ½ points and on board four Daniel Mousseri defeated FM Mark Duckworth to join the leaders.

With seven players at 2 ½ points and four players at 2-1 (including Li), round four figured to be an interesting round.  Among the leaders, there was only one decisive game:  IM Gorovets defeated IM Kiewra to become the sole leader going into the last round.

On board one, IM Bryant drew GM Khachiyan, and, on board three, Palani drew IM Matikozyan.  GM Li defeated Mousseri on board four, and FM Michael Casella defeated Danial Asaria on board 5 to keep pace with the players chasing Gorovets.

Round five was also going to be very exciting as 75% of the games in the round had prize implications, and the top seeds were again playing each other.  Gorovets had a half point lead but there five players chasing him at 3-1, any one of which could win the tournament or at least tie for first:  GMs Li and Khachiyan, IMs Bryant and Matikozyan and FM Casella.  There were only two draws among the twelve boards, and all the top boards were decisive.

Ruifeng Li, Western Class Co-Champion, at the 2016 U.S. Junior Closed. Photo: Austin Fuller

GM Li had white against Gorovets and needed the win in order to tie for 1st.  He brought home the full point.  In the following position, he is winning and uses a nice tactic on the time control move to finish the game.

Ruifeng Li vs. Andrey Gorovets

White to move.

On board two, GM Khachiyan defeated IM Matikozyan and, on board three, IM Bryant defeated SM Palani to join Li in 1st place.  On board four, IM Kiewra defeated FM Casella to deny Casella a piece of the championship and to tie for 4th place.  Board five saw Mousseri defeat Pourkashiyan to also tie for 4th.  The next few boards were all playing for the Under 2300 class prize.  On board seven, Alexander Costello needed to defeat Danial Asaria to win the class prize but could not do so.  On board eight, either WIM Wang or NM Bicak could have taken the class prize with a win, but they played a nearly 60 move draw that unfortunately left them both out of the money.  On boards eight and nine, the winner would share Under 2300 money. Jack Easton defeated FM Duckworth on 8 and Yi Hu defeated Christopher Yoo on 9 to each win $450.

In a shameless plug to my editor, I will point out that US Chess News Digital Assistant Vanessa West upset NM Kevin Davidson on board 11.  Vanessa was seeded 27th, but tied for 13th with an even score.  She was playing up and still finished only ½ point out of the Under 2300 money!

Khachiyan had the best tiebreaks and got $1166.67 plus the $100 bonus for best tiebreaks.  Li and Bryant each got $1166.67.   Li’s check calculation was more like a math problem.  When Li entered, he was an IM, so he paid the advance entry fee.  He became a GM prior to the tournament, so I had to refund the entry fee and then take back the GM entry fee and then pay him his prize plus the mixed double prize.  We also owed him 1st prize from the Southwest Class, and I had to recalculate the entry fee refund based on his GM title and then pay him that prize!

The section winners were:


Robert Shlyakhtenko, Derek Zhang, Gabriel Eidelman, Anaiy Somalwar, & Kyle Webster, 4-1, $480

Class A

Cindy Zhang, Tremil Anderson, Gisak Dimaksyan, Sriram Krishnakumarm & Kevin Golchin, 4-1, $480

Class B

Nareg Kedjejian, 5-0, $1200

Class C

Gokhan Akat & Eric Pangilinan, 4 ½ – ½, $850

Class D

Suren Mikoyan, 4 ½ – ½, $900

Class E

Erick Akopian, Ivan Lin, & Kaushik Ghosh, 4 ½ –  ½, $300

Mixed Doubles

Avery Yu & Ruifeng Li, 8-2, $300 each

Blitz Tournament

Ilia Serpik, 7 ½ – ½ $110

NTD David Hater directed for CCA assisted by Randy Hough and Dylan Quercia.

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  1. The question is either why are you bothering to report on a tournament that happened over a month ago, or why didn’t you report on it sooner?

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