Three Wise Men at the King’s Island

IM Kannappan, Photo STL Chess Club

IM Kannappan, Photo STL Chess Club

The 24th Annual King’s Island Open was held in Cincinnati, Ohio November 13-15th.  This tournament is now Ohio’s largest tournament with a based on prize fund of $30,000 and attendance in the 300 player range.  This year there were 293 players (more if you count re-entries, less if you take out house players).  This total meant that just slightly more than the $24,000 minimum guarantee was paid out.

The tournament was very strong with a 39 player Open section headlined by two GMs, four IMs, two FMs and 22 total players rated over 2200.

There was much fighting chess in the top section and there were many GM vs IM and IM vs IM pairings starting as early as round 3.  When the dust settled the trio of IM Priyadharshan Kannappan, GM Alexandr Lenderman, and IM Justin Sarkar all finished with an undefeated 3 wins and 2 draws to share first place.  Each player earned $1396.67 with Kannappan taking an extra $81 for his superior tiebreaks.  Kannappan started 3-0 with wins over CM Christopher Shen, WCM Maggie Feng and GM Alexander Shabalov.  He then “coasted” in to first place with two draws on Sunday.  Many times the coasting is quick draws – this was not the case with Kannappan.  He played 105 moves versus Lenderman and 74 moves versus IM Goran Vojinovic. Here is Kannappan’s key third round victory over GM Shabalov.

Originally hailing from India, Kannappan is currently a student at Lindenwood University in St Louis.  He was one of the founding members of the chess team there, but says that he is the only remaining titled player.  He graduates next year and plans to pursue graduate studies at Webster University and then a full time career as a professional chess player.

Lenderman deserves the energizer bunny award.  His games just keep going and going!  His three wins were 60, 49, and 62 moves. His draws were 105 and 79 moves. He modestly said he did not play any great games, but I think even most GMs would be satisfied with a first place tie, $1396, and a performance rating of 2654.  Still, Lenderman actually lost rating points, so maybe there is something to his comment.  Here Lenderman keeps squeezing IM Anatas Kizov.

Sarkar is a fixture on the US Swiss circuit. At this event, he was “just” consistent.  He did not play anybody over 2400, but his 3 draws and 2 wins was good enough for a 2501 performance rating and a share of first place.   There were not many Sarkar games to choose from.  Here Sarkar methodically converts his advantage in a knight ending. When his opponent plays on, Sarkar underpromotes to deliver the checkmate.

Here is an amusing position from the open section.  Black was worse or losing most of the game.  White allows black to queen.  If he captures the queen it is a stalemate, but instead he delivers checkmate using only minor pieces.

Rohan Talakdar John Randolph  2216

  1. … g1=Q  56.  Bf6+  1-0

Randolph also had the distinction of being the last game of the tournament to end.  With his opponent having 27 seconds and Randolph having 56 seconds, his opponent made an illegal move.  As the chief floor TD, my decision was easy as there were four witnesses (including two TDs) who observed the illegal move.  For a variety of reasons, the situation escalated into a more contentious dispute, with an apparently easy decision dragging on for over an hour, delaying the paying of prizes.  While it’s necessary to ascertain all the facts in a dispute, it’s also important to make every effort to sift out the minutiae from the important factors.  We apologize for the delay and thank all who waited for their patience during the long night.

This tournament started on Friday the 13th.  I should have observed the omen!  There was significantly more contention and animosity in this tournament involving several players.  No dispute was all that interesting – it just seemed like several players were in argumentative moods this weekend!

The Under 2100 section had a clear winner.   Hafez Tari scored 4 ½ to take clear first and $1611.  There was a 5 way tie for 2nd at 4 points.  Two players in this tie deserve mention.  Omar Cunningham has been on a tear in the last 3 Continental Chess Association (CCA) tournaments.  He was on board 1 in the last round of the Boardwalk Open, and only a last round loss prevented him from winning the tournament.  He would have been on board 1 in the last round of the Eastern Congress, but before the start of the tournament, he opted for an irrevocable half point bye in the last round (he won the Eastern Chess Congress clear first).  He was on board 2 in the last round at the King’s Island Open.  Cunningham won his way into the Boardwalk Open and Eastern Chess Congress by winning a team and individual prize at the New York City Scholastics (the Kings Island Open has a based on prize fund and was not part of the prize that Cunningham won).  He made the most of his opportunity.  In these three tournaments he scored 10 wins, 3 draws and 1 last round loss.  He won a total of $1154.60 in these three events.  Grant Oen started the tournament at 4-0, and only a last round loss to Tari prevented him from winning an even greater prize.  Grant is the owner of Southeast Chess and is the manager of the Atlanta Kings of the US Chess League.  It is nice to see an organizer have success over the board!

The Under 1900 section was the largest section and ended in a three way tie for first between Vladis Turns, Richard Mercer, and William Stewart.  Each won $940.  While we are used to seeing youth at the top of the crosstable, we should give special mention to Vladis Turns.  At over 80 years young, it is nice to see an octogenarian in the winner’s circle.  Occasionally it is nice to feature games of class players.  Lou Friscoe has been a fixture in Ohio chess for many decades. He is known for a swashbuckling gambit style.  While the games may not always be technically correct with best moves, they are usually entertaining.  Here is a position from his last round game:

Black to move, mate in 10:

Here is the entire game which started as a Latvian gambit.   While Lou could have checkmated faster, and he did miss gxh3 many times in the middle game, the game is still entertaining.

The Under 1700 section was won by David Wallach.  He won $1450 plus he won $161.50 for his mixed doubles team finish.  That made him the biggest money winner of the weekend – 50 cents ahead of Hafez Tari!

The Under 1500 section was won by Delondon Hawthorne and Rothan Trenton with 4 ½ points which earned them each .  Hawthorne lost his 1st game in the 3 day schedule and re-entered.  Normally re-entries don’t win tournaments, but Hawthorne showed it could be done.

The Under 1250 section was won by Alan Hodge and James Allen-Polley.  Each scored 4 ½ points and won $725.

The Under 1000 section had a clear winner. Jacob Rosenthal was the only 5-0 in the tournament and won $645.

William Stewart and Katherine Lin scored a combined 8 points to win the first mixed doubles prize.  They split the $806 prize.

The blitz tournament was won by Walter Griggs with 7-1.  He started the event with a half point bye in round 1 and then won all his remaining games!  Another player who made good use of a bye was Robert Tims.  Rated only 833, he started with a full point bye.  Even though he scored only 2-4 in his remaining games, he won the Under 1500 prize outright!  What was humorous was that there was a late entry rated over 1000 points higher than Tims.  The late entry wanted Tims to give up his bye, but Tims would not do so – looks to be a good decision!

The tournament was directed by Steve Immitt assisted by David Hater, Wayne Clark, and Grant Neilly.

For full details on the event including many games see

Past CCA tournaments can also be found at




  1. An otherwise fine article is marred by the fact that the Kizov-Lenderman game is given twice, once in its rightful place and again when the commentary says you are showing one of Justin Sarkar’s games.

  2. The correct name of the co-champion in the U1900 section is Valdis Tums. We were on adjacent boards each round 1-4 and I had the pleasure of watching him destroy his opponents in those rounds. I hope I am still playing that well when I am 80+!

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