2015 CCSCSL Thanksgiving Open Recap
Grandmaster Alex Shimanov (2639) came into the Thanksgiving Open as the top-rated player and ended it with 5.5 points out of six games and first-place prize money of $1,500. GM Ashwin Jayaram (2614) and Shimanov drew in the third round and Jayaram came in second with 5, good for the $1,000 second-place prize. Jayaram and GM Benjamin Finegold (2588) drew in round 5. Finegold finished with 4.5 points, good for third place and $800.
However, in the under 2000 section the top rated player did not come in first. Eric Hoffner (1653 before the event began) swept the field winning all six of his games to pick up first place, $1,000 and a post-tournament rating of 1871. He took out three players rated higher than 1800 and two rated higher than 1900.
Hoffner, of St. Louis, said it was his best result in a standard tournament although he has gone undefeated in quad tournaments. Playing white he focused on e4 openings.
“I was trying to play more gambits this time,” Hoffner said. One line included the delayed wing gambit against the Sicilian. “As black I played the Dragon and in the last game I played the center counter.”
For his e4 and Dragon lines he said he watched videos on chess.com.
“I played the center counter because that’s what my computer plays against me,” he said.
This year’s tournament format changed this year to only two sections, the Open and Under 2000.
“We figured with the Open being FIDE rated more of those players would want higher quality games,” said Mike Kummer, the tournament director.
He also said the turnout of just under 100 players was nearly perfect.
“If we had over 100 not everybody would have got to play in the tournament hall and boardroom,” Kummer said. “It was a good turnout with a lot of prize winners. Over a third of the field won prizes.”
A time control of an hour and 30 minutes with a 30-second increment created several exciting games. One such game was Saturday nights round 4 matchup between Kansas City IM Michael Brooks (2437) and IM Priyadharshan Kannappan (2564). Kannappan tried to win with his rook and bishop against the rook and pawn held by Brooks. The game lasted nearly six hours before the game ended in a draw.
Kannappan also posted on Facebook about one of his other games, his round 5 game against WFM Hulkar Tohirjonova (2250), which he lost. He said he played the rating more than the board and that it cost him. Tohirjonova came in fourth and pocketed $625.
NM Matt Larson (2319) of St. Louis tied for fourth and also scored $625.
In the Under 2000 section following Hoffner were Harper Evan Smith (1928) of St. Louis and Joshua Arden Campbell (1885) who each finished with 5 and each won $475. Tying for for fourth were Behrooz Vakil (1880) and Todd Plagemann (1981) with 4.5 points good for $100 each.