Youth Dominate at the 8th Southwest Class Championship

Sam Sevian at the 2015 U.S. Championships. Photo: Austin Fuller
The 8th Southwest Class Championship (February 16-20) ended in a 5 way tie for 1st and produced one GM and three IM norms where the average age was 22 years old!  Only one “old man” in each group prevented the average age from being even lower. The top section is a nine round swiss, which offers $8800 of the $30,000 guaranteed prize fund and offers GM and IM norm opportunities.  This year’s event drew 13 GMs, 14 IMs, 9 FMs, and 2 WIMs. Four GMs and two IMs scored 6 ½ to each earn $1,083,33.  GM Sam Sevian, who is currently ranked #12 in the world among players age 20 and below, had the highest tiebreak totals and earned a $200 bonus.  Sevian played three of the other four players tied for 1st.  The tenth grade student from Massachusetts counts his 3rd round victory over GM Carlos Alejano as his best game of the event.
[pgn][Event "Southwest Class"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2017.02.17"]
[Round "3.7"]
[White "GM Alejano, Carlos Hevia"]
[Black "GM Sevian, Sam"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "C54"]
[WhiteElo "2496"]
[BlackElo "2579"]
[PlyCount "66"]
[EventDate "2017.??.??"]1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Bc5 4. d3 Nf6 5. c3 O-O 6. O-O d6 7. a4 a6 8. Bg5
Ba7 9. Na3 h6 10. Bh4 g5 11. Bg3 Bg4 12. h3 Be6 13. Re1 Nh5 14. Kh2 Qf6 15. Nc2
Bxc4 16. dxc4 Qg6 17. Nd2 Ne7 18. Nf1 f5 19. exf5 Nxf5 20. Nce3 Nxe3 21. Nxe3
Rf7 22. Qd5 c6 23. Qd2 Raf8 24. Rad1 Bb8 25. Re2 Nf4 26. Qc2 e4 27. Red2 h5 28.
Kh1 Nd3 29. f3 Ba7 30. fxe4 Bxe3 31. Rxd3 Rf1+ 32. Kh2 Bg1+ 33. Kh1 Bc5+ 0-1[/pgn]
Ruifeng Li at the 2016 U.S. Junior Closed. Photo: Austin Fuller
Sevian edged out IM Ruifeng Li by half a tiebreak point.  Li, who is currently ranked as the number 19 Junior in the world, achieved a GM norm, but this is actually his 4th norm, and his GM was subsequently approved in March by the FIDE Presidential Board.  Congratulations to the USA’s newest GM!  Here is Li’s 6th round win over GM Denes Boros.
[pgn][Event "Southwest Class"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2017.02.19"]
[Round "6.3"]
[White "IM Li, Ruifeng"]
[Black "GM Boros, Denes"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "C10"]
[WhiteElo "2561"]
[BlackElo "2444"]
[PlyCount "97"]
[EventDate "2017.??.??"]1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 dxe4 4. Nxe4 Nd7 5. Nf3 Ngf6 6. Nxf6+ Nxf6 7. c3 c5 8.
Ne5 a6 9. Bg5 Qd5 10. Bxf6 gxf6 11. Ng4 Qg5 12. h4 Qf4 13. Be2 Be7 14. g3 Qd6
15. dxc5 Qxc5 16. Qb3 f5 17. Ne3 Bd7 18. Bf3 Bc6 19. Bxc6+ Qxc6 20. O-O-O Bc5
21. Nc4 Bxf2 22. Nd6+ Ke7 23. Rhf1 Bxg3 24. Nxf7 Kxf7 25. Rxf5+ Ke7 26. Qb4+
Bd6 27. Rxd6 Qxd6 28. Qxb7+ Qd7 29. Rf7+ Kxf7 30. Qxd7+ Kf6 31. Qd6 Kf5 32.
Qd3+ Kf6 33. Qf3+ Ke7 34. Qe4 Kf6 35. Qf4+ Ke7 36. b4 Rad8 37. Qg5+ Kf7 38.
Qh5+ Kf6 39. Qf3+ Ke5 40. Kc2 Rd7 41. a4 Rhd8 42. Qe2+ Kf5 43. Qf1+ Ke4 44.
Qe2+ Kf5 45. Qxa6 Rd2+ 46. Kb3 e5 47. Qh6 e4 48. Qg5+ Ke6 49. Qf4 1-0[/pgn]
Li drew in the last round with GM Vladimir Belous who also shared 1st.  Their game was no GM draw---it went 60 moves to a drawn king and pawn ending.  Belous had the lowest tiebreaks of the winners because he won on forfeit in round one and lost in round two to FM Alexander Kalikshteyn, who achieved an IM norm in the event.  Belous then won four out of the next five games before drawing Sevian and Li in the last two rounds.  Here is his 4th round win over FM Levy Rozman.
[pgn][Event "Southwest Class"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2017.02.18"]
[Round "4.8"]
[White "GM Belous, Vladimir"]
[Black "FM Rozman, Levy"]
[Result "*"]
[ECO "A30"]
[WhiteElo "2577"]
[BlackElo "2404"]
[PlyCount "89"]
[EventDate "2017.??.??"]1. Nf3 e6 2. g3 b6 3. Bg2 Bb7 4. O-O c5 5. c4 Nf6 6. Nc3 Be7 7. d4 cxd4 8. Qxd4
O-O 9. Bg5 d6 10. Bxf6 Bxf6 11. Qd3 Qe7 12. Rad1 Rd8 13. Ne4 Na6 14. Nxf6+ Qxf6
15. Nd4 Bxg2 16. Kxg2 Rac8 17. Qa3 Rxc4 18. e3 Nc7 19. Qxa7 e5 20. Nf3 b5 21.
Qb7 Qe6 22. b3 Rc5 23. Ng5 Qe8 24. Qe4 Qc6 25. Kg1 Qxe4 26. Nxe4 Rc6 27. Rc1
Rxc1 28. Rxc1 Ne6 29. Rc6 d5 30. Nd6 Rb8 31. Ra6 d4 32. Kf1 g6 33. Ke2 d3+ 34.
Kd2 Rd8 35. Ne4 Kf8 36. f4 exf4 37. gxf4 Ke7 38. Ra7+ Kf8 39. b4 Kg7 40. Nc3 h5
41. Nxb5 Kf6 42. Nc3 h4 43. Ne4+ Kf5 44. Nf2 Kf6 45. Ra5 *[/pgn]
GM Holden Hernandez is currently a student at UT Dallas.  He started the tournament 3-0 and won more games than anyone else in the tournament, six. He also had the fewest draws of any of the co-champions, only one.  Hernandez is the “old man” of the champions at 33 years old!  Here is an example of his fighting style.  He defeats Advait Patel, who earned an IM norm, in an attacking game with kings castled on opposite sides.
[pgn][Event "Southwest Class"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2017.02.17"]
[Round "2.11"]
[White "GM Hernandez, Holden"]
[Black "Patel, Advait"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "E80"]
[WhiteElo "2372"]
[BlackElo "2496"]
[PlyCount "69"]
[EventDate "2017.??.??"]1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. f3 Bg7 4. e4 d6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Be3 c6 7. Qd2 b5 8. O-O-O
bxc4 9. Bxc4 d5 10. Bb3 dxe4 11. Bh6 e3 12. Qxe3 O-O 13. h4 Nd5 14. Bxd5 cxd5
15. h5 Bxh6 16. Qxh6 Qd6 17. Nh3 Bxh3 18. Rxh3 Nd7 19. hxg6 Nf6 20. gxh7+ Kh8
21. f4 Ne4 22. Qxd6 exd6 23. Re1 Rac8 24. Kb1 Rfe8 25. Nxe4 dxe4 26. Rh6 d5 27.
Rh5 Red8 28. Rc1 Rc4 29. Rxc4 dxc4 30. d5 e3 31. Kc2 f6 32. Kd1 Rb8 33. d6 Rxb2
34. Rd5 Rb1+ 35. Ke2 1-0[/pgn]
GM Gil Polpilski is a teammate of Hernandez and is currently studying Computer Science at UT Dallas.  In the last round, Popilski defeated IM Sergei Matsenko to join the winner’s circle.
[pgn][Event "Southwest Class"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2017.02.20"]
[Round "9.3"]
[White "IM Matsenko, Sergei"]
[Black "GM Popilski, Gil"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "D41"]
[WhiteElo "2522"]
[BlackElo "2539"]
[PlyCount "66"]
[EventDate "2017.??.??"]1. Nf3 c5 2. c4 Nf6 3. Nc3 e6 4. g3 d5 5. cxd5 Nxd5 6. Bg2 Nc6 7. O-O Be7 8. d4
O-O 9. Nxd5 exd5 10. dxc5 Bxc5 11. Bg5 Qd7 12. Qc2 Bb6 13. Rad1 Re8 14. Bc1 h6
15. a3 Qg4 16. b4 Bf5 17. Qd2 Be4 18. Bb2 Rad8 19. Qf4 Qh5 20. b5 Na5 21. Bd4
Nc4 22. Bxb6 axb6 23. Qc7 Rc8 24. Qd7 Nxa3 25. Rc1 Rcd8 26. Qxb7 d4 27. Qa7 d3
28. Qxa3 dxe2 29. Rfe1 Rd3 30. Rc3 Rd1 31. Re3 Qxb5 32. Qc3 Bb7 33. h3 Rc8 0-1[/pgn]
The last co-champion is IM Pavlo Vorontsov.  He achieved a GM performance, but did not get a norm because he did not play the required number of foreign players.  Here is his 7th round victory over GM Alexander Shabalov.
[pgn][Event "Southwest Class"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2017.02.19"]
[Round "7.6"]
[White "IM Vorontsov, Pavlo"]
[Black "GM Shabalov, Alexander"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "B06"]
[WhiteElo "2477"]
[BlackElo "2570"]
[PlyCount "77"]
[EventDate "2017.??.??"]1. e4 g6 2. d4 Bg7 3. Nf3 d6 4. Bd3 e5 5. c3 Nc6 6. O-O Bg4 7. d5 Nce7 8. h3
Bd7 9. c4 h6 10. Nc3 f5 11. c5 Nf6 12. Qb3 Rb8 13. Qa3 Nc8 14. exf5 gxf5 15.
Nh4 e4 16. Be2 Kf7 17. Bf4 b5 18. c6 b4 19. Qb3 Nb6 20. Nb5 Bc8 21. Bxd6 Nfxd5
22. Bxc7 Qxh4 23. Bxb8 Be6 24. Qg3 Qxg3 25. Bxg3 Bxb2 26. Rab1 Bf6 27. Bh5+ Kg7
28. Nc7 Nxc7 29. Bxc7 Nd5 30. Ba5 Rb8 31. Be2 Nc3 32. Ba6 Nxb1 33. Rxb1 Be5 34.
c7 Ra8 35. Rd1 Kf7 36. Rd8 Bxc7 37. Rxa8 Bxa5 38. Rxa7+ Kf6 39. Bc8 1-0[/pgn]
As noted, Li made his 4th GM norm in this event.  IM norms were made by Craig Hilby, Advait Patel and Alexander Kalikshteyn.  Hilby achieved the norm with a round to spare by surpassing the norm requirement with a score of 6-3.  This is Hilby’s third IM norm and his IM title application is now pending before FIDE.  Hilby is currently the number 7 player in the USA age 16 or younger.  Here is his 8th round norm clinching victory over FM Alexander Kalikshteyn.
[pgn][Event "Southwest Class"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2017.02.20"]
[Round "8.9"]
[White "FM Hilby, Craig"]
[Black "FM Kalikshteyn, Alexander"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "B79"]
[WhiteElo "2333"]
[BlackElo "2448"]
[PlyCount "53"]
[EventDate "2017.??.??"]1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 g6 6. Be3 Bg7 7. f3 Nc6 8. Qd2
O-O 9. Bc4 Bd7 10. h4 Ne5 11. Bb3 Qa5 12. O-O-O Rfc8 13. g4 Nc4 14. Bxc4 Rxc4
15. Nb3 Qa6 16. h5 Rxc3 17. bxc3 Bxg4 18. e5 Bxf3 19. exf6 Bxf6 20. hxg6 hxg6
21. Bd4 e5 22. Qf2 exd4 23. Qxf3 Qa3+ 24. Kd2 dxc3+ 25. Ke2 Re8+ 26. Kf2 Kg7
27. Rh7+ 1-0[/pgn]
Kalikshteyn also achieved an IM norm.  He is the “old man” of the norm earners at 41 years old.  In round two, he defeated GM Belous.
[pgn][Event "Southwest Class"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2017.02.17"]
[Round "2.3"]
[White "FM Kalikshteyn, Alexander"]
[Black "GM Belous, Vladimir"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "D00"]
[WhiteElo "2448"]
[BlackElo "2577"]
[PlyCount "65"]
[EventDate "2017.??.??"]1. d4 g6 2. Nf3 Bg7 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. Bf4 O-O 5. Qd2 d5 6. Bh6 Ne4 7. Qe3 Bxh6 8.
Qxh6 f6 9. e3 c5 10. Nxe4 dxe4 11. Bc4+ e6 12. Nd2 cxd4 13. Nxe4 Qa5+ 14. c3
dxc3 15. Nxc3 Qb4 16. Bb3 Na6 17. O-O Nc5 18. Bc2 Rf7 19. Rab1 e5 20. Nd5 Qc4
21. Rbc1 Be6 22. Bxg6 Qxd5 23. Rfd1 Qxd1+ 24. Rxd1 hxg6 25. Qxg6+ Kf8 26. b4
Nd7 27. h4 Rc8 28. h5 Rc4 29. h6 Rg4 30. Qc2 Kg8 31. Rd6 Nf8 32. Rxe6 Nxe6 33.
Qc8+ 1-0[/pgn]
The final norm was earned by Advait Patel.  He played five GMs and scored 50%.  Here is his round six victory versus GM Kayden Troff.
[pgn][Event "Southwest Class"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2017.02.19"]
[Round "6.10"]
[White "GM Troff, Kayden"]
[Black "Patel, Advait"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "E97"]
[WhiteElo "2511"]
[BlackElo "2377"]
[PlyCount "58"]
[EventDate "2017.??.??"]1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. e4 d6 5. Nf3 O-O 6. Be2 e5 7. O-O Nc6 8. d5
Ne7 9. Nd2 a5 10. Rb1 Bd7 11. b3 c6 12. Bb2 Bh6 13. a3 Qb8 14. b4 Re8 15. c5
axb4 16. axb4 dxc5 17. Nc4 cxb4 18. Na4 cxd5 19. Nab6 dxc4 20. Nxd7 Nxd7 21.
Qxd7 Bf8 22. f4 c3 23. Bc1 Qa7+ 24. Kh1 Qa2 25. Bd3 b3 26. fxe5 b2 27. Bg5 c2
28. e6 cxb1=Q 29. exf7+ Qxf7 0-1[/pgn]
In addition to Ruifeng Li, Akshat Chandra had his GM title confirmed at the same time. Congratulations to another of USA’s newest GMs!  Akshat did not have his best result scoring “only” 5 ½ points.  He did, however, play one of the tournament’s most exciting games, even though he came out on the wrong end. He played the last 20 or so moves in an incredibly complicated position in severe time pressure.  When I started watching the game, he had less than two minutes left to make it to move 40.  He made many best moves, but it appears he needed a bit more time to analyze all these complications.
[pgn][Event "Southwest Class"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2017.02.16"]
[Round "1.11"]
[White "IM Chandra, Akshat"]
[Black "Toolin, Christopher"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "B42"]
[WhiteElo "2512"]
[BlackElo "2209"]
[PlyCount "66"]
[EventDate "2017.??.??"]1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 a6 5. Bd3 Qc7 6. O-O Nf6 7. Qe2 d6 8. c4
Nbd7 9. f4 Be7 10. Nc3 b6 11. Bd2 Bb7 12. Rae1 O-O 13. Kh1 Nc5 14. Bb1 Rac8 15.
e5 Ne8 16. b4 Nd7 17. Nd5 exd5 18. Nf5 Bd8 19. Bc3 Qxc4 20. Qh5 g6 21. e6 Qxc3
22. exf7+ Rxf7 23. Rxe8+ Rf8 24. Qe2 gxf5 25. Qe6+ Kg7 26. Qxd7+ Rf7 27. Qxd6
Bc7 28. Rxc8 Bxc8 29. Qxd5 Bxf4 30. a4 Bb7 31. Qd1 Qh3 32. Qd4+ Rf6 33. Qg1 Be3
Every tournament has its fair share of stories, and this one is no exception.  In one of the class sections, one of the players had a mild heart attack in round three.  I have had instances where players had medical emergencies and have had players have a heart attack at the board.  I have never had a player continue playing.  This player not only continued playing but won that game.  He later went to the hospital and learned he had a mild heart attack.  He kept playing in the tournament and even won a prize! One thing I noticed as I entered games is that two games in the norm section were played to checkmate, one to stalemate, and one to king versus king.  In class sections, it is not unusual to see such occurrences, but this is unusual in a norm event! Another interesting tidbit is that a perfect score was not enough to win the blitz tournament (at least outright).  GM Vladimir Belous scored 8-0 including two last round victories over IM Felix Aponte, but Gopal Menon also scored 8-0 to tie for 1st.  Belous commented that this was the first time he won all his games and still had to share 1st place! Strategic last round half point byes (requested in advance of course) led to prize money in the Class A section.  Austin Yan scored 5 ½ out of 6, and the last round half point bye gave him clear first and $2000.  Yue Chu scored 5 out of 6 and the last round bye was worth 5 ½ points, a tie for second, and $750. In the Class D section, David Barry scored 6 ½ and was a point ahead of the field.  However, this was his first tournament and as an unrated he was prize limited to $300. The only perfect score was Clarence Whitworth in Class E.  The 7-0 score was a point and a half ahead of the field and was worth $800. The section winners were:

Leo Creger V, Rohith Kaliyur, Arish Virani, Shelev Oberoi, 5  ½ -  1 ½ $950

Class A

Austin Yan, 6-1, $2000

Class B

Rajesh Shanmukam, 6-1, $2000

Class C

Danial Smith, 6 ½ -  1 ½, $1700

Class D

David Barry, 6 ½ - 1 ½,  $300

Class E

Clarence Whitworth, 7-0 $800

Mixed Doubles

Yue Chu & Adarsh Hullahalli, 10-2, $500 each

Blitz Tournament

GM Vladimir Belous & Gopal Menon, 8-0, $101.50

NTD Steve Immitt directed for CCA assisted by David Hater, Al Losoff, Tom Brownscombe, and Rob Jones.

For more information, including over 200 games from the tournament, visit:

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