Category Archives: Tournament Reports

2020 States Chess Cup Update

The Missouri team is now on the back end of the 2020 States Chess Cup regular season. These regular season games are played within the Central Division.

Each division will send their top two teams into the playoffs. The two best third place teams will win wildcard spots in the playoffs, but must advance through an extra round.

Our match results so far:

Week 1 versus Iowa – Loss
Week 2 versus Kansas – Win
Week 3 versus Minnesota – Loss
Week 4 versus Oklahoma – Win

Our next match is on October 8 and the team we will field to face Nebraska includes Ken Jones (2204), Isaiah Gadson (2159), Nathaniel Fast (2118), and Asish Panda (2007).

Our remaining matches include Nebraska, Colorado, and Illinois.

The Central division standings after four weeks:

  1. Minnesota – 4
    Iowa – 4
  2. Illionois – 3
  3. Missouri – 2
  4. Colorado – 1.5
  5. Kansas – 1
  6. Oklahoma – 0.5
  7. Nebraska – 0

We are currently second place in game wins which gives us excellent chances of winning any tie-breaks.

We have also gotten some great commentary from Jared Bray, Ben Boaz, and Isaiah Gadson.

Here is the most recent upload to the MCA playlist on the Springfield, Missouri Chess Club’s YouTube channel.

2018 Missouri Class Championships

by Randy Merrell


It really began Friday night. We had a blitz (my first) and a lecture presented by Master Ken Jones. The lecture was about a position that falls outside the normal evaluation process. Something I confess I had never considered. I hope Ken will present the position on the website. Maybe all those position I misevaluated were really like this. Probably just my bad skills, but I’m blaming it on this anyway.

We had 8 entries in the blitz. Martin Stahl was nice enough to play the first round to even out the roster until Tim Blaco arrived for round 2. Tied for first and second were Ron Luther and Jason Wawrzaszek with 4.0. Wawrzaszek’s only loss was to Luther and Luther’s was to Kevin Swartz who finished in a tie for third with CJ Armenta. Everything went  smoothly.



We were almost an hour late starting the first round. Some of which (20 min) was due to the bulk of walk in registration. A lot had to do with errors, and players last minute decision to move up a class. Now my feelings about early registration discounts. Everyone benefits from early and accurate registration. Not just the tournament director. Not everyone can register early but if you can you should. I know of no tournament organizer or director that would not refund your entry fee if you notify them that you wish to withdraw the day before the tournament. Also accuracy is important. Please supply your
USCF ID number with your entry. This way identity mistakes are not likely to happen. Finally if your registering a child give the child’s name as the player with their USCF ID.
We had 74 entries about half were on site. This is a big success in a market that had been thought to max out at around 35. Many interesting and exciting games were played. The championship plaques went to the following.

In the Master Expert Section Michael Brooks and Ron Luther tied with 4.5. Brooks won the tie breaks but deferred the plaque to Luther.

Ron Luther (left). IM Michael Brooks (right), 2018 Class Master/Expert Champion

Aaron Z Lin was the top Missouri class A player and took home the plaque.


Class B had a clear first place and it was Missouri resident Matthew J Pratt.

Matthew Pratt, 2018 Class B Champion

Martin Stahl was the top class C finisher from the state.

Martin Stahl, 2018 Class C Champion

Class D also had a clear first from Missouri. Joshua Gollapudi won the plaque and the class.

Joshua Gollapudi, 2018 Class D Champion

In the U1200 section Benjamin Wenlo Xu had the only perfect 5 score of the tournament and took first and the plaque.

Benjamin Wenlo Xu, 2018 U1200 Champion



This tournament was also a success with 10 entries. A four way tie was settled on tie breaks in favor of Max Yang who took home the plaque and a gold medal, Silver went to Sachin D Kesarkar. Bronze was won by Felix Zhang. Just out of the medals but tied for first was Ramkumar Krishnan.

Max Yang, 2018 Novice Champion



2017 Class Championships Report

Student Center on the campus of St. Louis University. It is the first tournament of its kind to be held at SLU, but unlikely to be the last as the university has embraced chess with a passion. The University started a chess team in 2015, and it is already a top notch program. Under the watchful eye of coach GM Alejandro Ramirez, the team has already qualified for the collegiate chess final four.
Players squared off in 8 separate categories; Master, Expert, Class A, Class B, Class C, Class D, Under 1200, and a one day novice event for Under 1000.

Grandmaster Priyadharshan Kannappan (2595), scored 4.5 to win the Master section. It is the first time he has played in the state Class Championships despite competing for Webster’s Championship winning University team for several years running. GM Kannappan attended the event as a warm up for a grueling schedule of events ahead. “ I have a bunch of tournaments coming up”, he said, “I wanted to test out some new openings” The GM is planning on playing in six tournaments through Mid-August, including the Aviator Open in Dayton and a 10 player closed tournament, among others.


Benjamin Shoyket (1963) (pictured left with TD), scored 3.5 to win first place in the expert section. With a single loss to GM Kannappan, and a draw to Susanna Ulrich, Benjamin “played up” and scored several upsets to be able to grab the section championship.







Will Nesham (1950) (pictured right) won the Class A section with 4.5 points. Will’s performance was so dominant, that his only draw came against Iris Zhou (1894), who ended up taking clear 2nd in the section. Nesham said the tournament featured a change in his opening selection. “I actually played some queen pawn openings and I have never played queen pawn in tournaments. I played online to get practice in case of transpositions. I want to play d4, but I really like e4”, he said.





Coming in just behind Nesham in the Class A section was local Iris Zhou. Zhou credited her success to following her instincts. “I was trusting my calculations”, she said. “I also worked on my openings. In my games in this tournament I worked on paying more attention to my pawn structure.”

Aleksey Kazakevich, (1777) won the B Class State Championship with 4.0/5.0. After winning three straight games on Saturday, Kazakevich held on to his lead Sunday with two hard fought draws. The victory boosts him back in Class A. “I’ve been doing tactics every day for the last five months”, he said. “I beat Paul Goddard thanks to tactics. It was looking completely drawn but I was able to find something.”
Also notable in B class was 2nd place finisher Kevin Banas. Kevin entered near the bottom of the rating chart at (1554) due to playing up. His 3.5/5 effort gave him a share of 2nd place money and nearly 100 rating points!


Chris Shelton, a second year law student at Mizzou, broke away from his studies to play some chess, and took home the Class C plaque and title. After a first round draw, Chris (pictured right), ran off four consecutive wins to end 4.5/5 and take the title. “I’ve been studying openings a lot lately”, said Chris, “and didn’t get any of them on the board this weekend!” One of his games featured a rare, under promoted knight, that pulled a losing game back to even. He went on to win that game on his way to the title.
Matthew Manley (1508) took clear 2nd in that section. Matthew sat in a tie for 1st going into the last round, but a family event meant he had to accept a planned 1/2pt bye and leave his final standing to fate. While it cost him the chance for the state title, his final score of 4/5 remains something to be proud of.


The Class D tournament ended with the most drama. As the final round started, literally all 6 players in the round robin section still had a chance at a prize! It would be Randy Engleby (1205) from Kansas that ended up atop the pack. Randy enjoyed the 1st place prize money, but as he wasn’t a Missouri resident, the State Title remained up for grabs. Ken West (1200) and Anuraag Pujari (1030) ended with 3 points each and were named Co-Champions for Class D. Ken West (pictured left), got the honor and glory of hoisting the plaque, as his tiebreaks and head to head victory over Pujari granted him the hardware.



Vishnu Aran of Columbia (pictured right) won the final section in the two day main event. With 4.5 points, he boosted his rating from 1112 to 1239 while grabbing the Under 1200 title. Jacob Sanders, one of the lowest rated players in the section, came from the bottom of the rating chart to score 4.0 and gain over 100 rating points and the 2nd place prize money as well.







The Missouri Chess Association also hosted the one day Novice Championship. This shorter time control event was perfect for new and lower rated players looking for serious tournament chess against equal competition. The section drew 43 players, including an amazing 17 new players! We hope many of those go on to play in future events around Missouri.

The section ended with two perfect scores. Joshua Fundler and Jason Woolem each ended perfect, with 4/4. Fundler improved his pretournament rating of 989 to 1054, while Woolem jumped from 998 to 1036. Both players earned the Missouri Novice Championship title, but it was Fundler who got to take home the plaque thanks to better final tiebreaks.

2017 Missouri Open Results

by Randy Merrell

Eighty chess players attended the 2017 Missouri Open Chess Championship held at Unity Village Missouri. Amazingly exactly forty in each section.Thanks to a $500 donated guaranteed first place prize the tournament qualified for the Grand Prix circuit with 6 Grand Prix points. All rounds started within just a few minutes of the advertised time. The Unity Village Hotel was praised as a wonderful venue. The only problem I’m aware of was the proximity of the tables to the air conditioning vents. We eventually found a way to correct the issue.



Boards one and two in the open section held everyone’s attention. In the fourth round a draw with Abhishek Mallela put IM Michael Brooks within reach. Master Ken Jones win over Ron Luther setup the final board one match. However a win by Brooks over Jones, and Ron Luther’s draw with Abhishek Mallela on board two put Brooks over the top for the championship.



Ryan Duan dominated the Reserve section. Finishing a half point out front with a perfect 5.0. Because he elected to enter ineligible for prizes 1st place money went to Xueyi Chen. The first Missouri player was Wesley Willis who won the championship plaque and a share of second place with 4.0 score. Losing only to Cael Province who also took part of the 2nd place prize, along with Charles Carlson.


Pairing Number Name Cash Non-Cash Prize Prize Credited to Pool
1 MICHAEL A BROOKS (4.5/2390) 500 Plaque Place: 1 – $500
20 JONATHA GOLLAPUDI (4.0/1810) 125 U2000/1 – $125
2 ABHISHEK MALLELA (4.0/2228) 125 Place: 2 – $250
6 SAMUEL ISA FOWLER (4.0/2091) 125
30 BRYCEN M PARKER (3.0/1693) 100 U1800/1 – $100

Pairing Number Name Cash Non-Cash Prize Prize Credited to Pool
13 XUEYI CHEN (4.5/1450) 200 Place: 1 – $200
8 CAEL DOU PROVINCE (4.0/1491) 34 Place: 2 – $100
7 WESLEY DAL WILLIS (4.0/1506) 34 Plaque
10 CHARLES W CARLSON (4.0/1472) 34
18 KEN WEST (3.0/1200) 100 Class D/1 – $100
20 ACHILLES B MILLER (3.0/1158) 34 Class E/1 – $100
19 CELINA ZHOU (3.0/1183) 34
29 THOMAS WEI (3.0/1036) 34
38 CRAIG A GUSTAFSON (2.5/0) 100 U1000-Unr/1 – $100

USCF Tournament Crosstable (link)

Here are some games from the event:

Round 4: NM Kenneth Jones (annotator) vs NM Ron Luther

[ctpgn layout=”left” id=”2017_MO_Open_JonesVsLuther”][Event “2017 Missouri Open”]
[Site “?”]
[Date “2017.08.06”]
[Round “4”]
[White “Jones, Kenneth E”]
[Black “Luther, Ronald”]
[Result “1-0”]
[WhiteElo “2193”]
[BlackElo “2225”]
[ECO “B07”]
[EventDate “2017.??.??”]
[PlyCount “71”]{(As my record against strong competition had not been good lately, before
the game I decided to concentrate on making good decisions and let that
take me where it would.)}
1. e4 g6 2. d4 Bg7 3. Nf3 d6 4. c3 {(White decides to fortify his center
and just develop behind it. This solid approach puts no immediate pressure
on Black, so he is free to choose any number of set-ups.)} 4. … Nf6 5.
Bd3 O-O 6. O-O Nc6 7. h3 {(The immediate 7. Re1 or 7. Na3 give Black the
option of …Bg4, while 7. Bg5 leads to positions similar to the Torre
Attack versus the King\’s Indian–but with the important difference that
White has not yet had to commit himself to Nbd2 to achieve them.)} 7. …
e5 8. Na3 {(8. Re1 is often seen, as sometimes White wants to gain space
on the Q-side with a4 before playing Na3.)} 8. … h6 {(Ron correctly
pointed out that 8…a6 is another common idea in this position.)} 9. Nc2
Nh5 10. Re1 Qf6 {(With the idea of …Nf4, the point of Black\’s last few
moves.)} 11. Ne3 exd4? {(A major strategic concession based on a tactical
oversight–Black is not winning a pawn. Ron later suggested 11…Qd8
immediately.)} 12. Nd5 Qd8 13. cxd4 Ne7?
( {(It\’s better to go ahead with} 13. … Nxd4 14. Nxd4 Bxd4 {when my
intention was} 15. Be2!?
( {Probably better is the obvious} 15. Bxh6 Bg7
( 15. … Bxb2? 16. Bxf8 Bxa1?? 17. Be7 {wins} )
16. Bxg7 Nxg7 17. Qf3 {when White has the advantage, but it\’s
still a fight.)} )
15. … Bg7 16. Bxh5 gxh5 17. Qxh5 {when Black\’s K-side is seriously
weakened, though} 17. … Re8! {holds it together for now, for if} 18.
Bxh6?? Re5! {and Black wins!} )
14. Nxe7+ Qxe7 15. e5! {+/- (Now the Nh5 is in serious danger of being
lost to g2-g4.)} 15. … dxe5 16. dxe5 Rd8 17. Qe2
( {(If White wants to be assured of winning the Nh5, he has to do it
now:} 17. g4! {–but after only a few minutes of thought I decided
against it. While objectively it is the best move (winning a piece for
2 pawns) it totally changes the nature of the position. Black\’s pieces
come immediately to life and my K-side is wide open. Ultimately, this
should not be enough compensation for Black; my engine suggests}
17. … g5 18. gxh5 Bxh3 19. Re3! {as an efficient way to defend. But
weighing this against the strength of my position after 17. Qe2 [when
Black still has to find a way to solve the problem of his wayward N] I
opted for practicality over objective superiority. Was it a good
decision? It worked, but outcome bias is hard to ignore….if you had
set up the position after 17. g4! and told me to pick a side, there\’s
no question of the answer!)} )
17. … g5?!
( {(Black should use the opportunity to save the N with} 17. … f5 {,
when} 18. Bc4+ Kh7 19. Be3 {keeps White\’s edge, but it\’s still a
fight.)} )
18. Bc4!?
( 18. Bc2 {is strong too, e.g.} 18. … Nf4 19. Bxf4 gxf4 20. Qe4 {
winning a pawn} )
18. … g4?! {(Black loses a pawn after either}
( 18. … Be6 19. Bxe6 Qxe6 20. Nxg5 )
( {or} 18. … Nf4 19. Bxf4 gxf4 20. Qe4 {, but the text is worse.)} )
19. hxg4 Bxg4 20. Qe4 {+-} Bxf3
( 20. … Qd7 21. Nh2 Bf5 22. Qf3 Bg6 23. g4 )
21. Qxf3 Rd4
( 21. … Nf6 22. Bxh6! )
22. b3! {(Now the Nh5 cannot be saved.)} 22. … Rad8
( 22. … Rh4 23. g3 )
( 22. … Qh4 23. Bxf7+ Kh8 24. Qxh5 )
23. Qxh5 b5 24. Bxb5 Rh4
( {After} 24. … Qb4 25. Bxh6!
( 25. Qe2 {is also good} )
25. … Bxh6 26. Qxh6 {Black won’t survive.} )
25. Ba3! {(The B\’s first move forces a Queen exchange.)}
( 25. Qe2!? Rd5 26. Bb2 {also wins} )
25. … Rxh5 26. Bxe7 Rd5 27. Bc4 Rdxe5 28. Rad1 {(Black\’s counterplay is
over.)} 28. … Rxe1+ 29. Rxe1 Re5 30. Rxe5 Bxe5 31. Kf1
( 31. Bc5 a5 32. Be3 Kg7 33. Bd2 {would have been more efficient, but
I eventually get around to it.} )
31. … Kg7 32. Ke2 f5 33. Kd3 Kg6 34. Bc5 a5 35. Bd4 Bd6 36. Bc3 1-0[/ctpgn]

Round 5: IM Michael Brooks vs NM Kenneth Jones (annotator)

[ctpgn layout=”left” id=”2017_MO_Open_BrooksvJones”][Event “2017 Missouri Open”][Site “?”][Date “2017.08.06”][Round “5”][White “Brooks, IM Michael”][Black “Jones, Kenneth E”][Result “1-0”][WhiteElo “2390”][BlackElo “2193”][ECO “B25”][EventDate “2017.??.??”][PlyCount “135”]1. e4 c5 2. d3 {(The dance begins. White keeps the option of placing a
pawn instead of a N on c3, and can react to Black\’s set-up accordingly.)}
2. … Nc6 3. g3
( 3. f4 {, followed by Nf3 & Be2 [sometimes known as “The Big Clamp”]
is another possibility from this move order.)} )
3. … g6 {(In turn, Black goes for the most standard Closed Sicilian
structure.)} 4. Bg2 Bg7 5. f4 d6 6. Nf3 e6 7. Nc3 Nge7 8. Be3 O-O {(After
the game, Mike thought it better to wait on castling until White shows
where his King is going. That idea is worth further investigation, and as
a practical matter it\’s a pretty useful concept to keep in mind, but even
if Black is able to keep finding useful moves while waiting for this
situation to be resolved, I\’d be surprised if 8..0-0 is found to be an
actual mistake.)} 9. h4!? {(A new one on me, and I guess pretty much
everybody–I could find only one master game where it was used.)} 9. …
d5?! {(Now was the time to focus on decision-making, and I failed
miserably–and not just for the relative merits of this move. Clearly,
there are many candidates here: playing on the Q-side with Qa5, Qb6, b6 or
b5; playing in the center with this move, e5 or Nd4; and the critical idea
of holding up White\’s play on the K-side with h5. Instead of focusing on
concrete analysis, I was influenced by generalities [“an attack on the
flank is best countered by an advance in the center”] and made an
oversight immediately.)} 10. Bxc5 d4?
( {(The only way to save material was by} 10. … Bxc3+ 11. bxc3 Qa5 {
, but despite the computer\’s evaluation I have a feeling Black is
really going to miss his dark squared Bishop.)} )
11. Ne2 Qa5+ 12. b4 Nxb4 13. Bxe7 Nc6+ 14. Qd2 Qxd2+ 15. Kxd2 Nxe7 {(In my
earlier calculations I still had the N on c6 here.)} 16. Nexd4 {(Black
doesn\’t have compensation for the pawn. The Bg7 will soon be smothered by
the massive pawn center.)} 16. … Rd8 17. c3 b6 18. a4! Ba6 19. Nb5
( 19. a5! {would save White a lot of trouble.} )
19. … Rac8 20. Rhc1 Nc6 21. e5 {(Since Black has no targets, White has
all the time in the world to try and find better squares for his pieces.)}
21. … Na5 22. Kc2 Rd7 23. Ng5 Rcd8 24. Rd1 Bf8 25. Ne4 Be7 26. Ned6?! {
(a waste of time)} 26. … Kf8 27. Ne4? Bb7 28. Bf3 h5! 29. Nd4?? {(This
allows Black an amazing resource.)} 29. … Bxe4??
( {(I never considered} 29. … Rxd4!! 30. cxd4 Nc6! {when suddenly
most of White\’s pieces are on bad squares. For example} 31. Bh1 Nxd4+
32. Kb2 Ne2! {going after the K-side pawn structure. Black has good
chances to hold here–if he can get in Bxe4 his dark square dominance
gives ample compensation for the exchange.)} )
30. Bxe4 Bc5 31. Ne2 {(Back to the status quo. No commentary is necessary;
while there may be improvements for both sides, White can feint and jab
until he finds the right squares for his pieces.)} 31. … Be7 32. Rf1 Kg7
33. Rf3 Rc7 34. d4 Nc4 35. Bd3 Na5 36. Rff1 Nc6 37. Kd2 Na5 38. Rfb1 Rdc8
39. Ba6 Rd8 40. Kd3 Bf8 41. Ra2 Be7 42. Ke4 Nc6 43. Rab2 Bf8 44. Rd2 Na5
45. Bb5 Nb7 46. Ke3 Na5 47. Kd3 Be7 48. Kc2 Bf8 49. Rbd1 Rd5 50. Kb2 Be7
51. Rd3 Bf8 52. Ng1 Rd8 53. Nf3 Be7 54. Ne1 Nc4+ {(If Black waits, Nc2-e3
lets White break through in the center.)} 55. Bxc4 Rxc4 56. Kb3 Rdc8 57.
Nc2 a6 58. Ne3 b5 {(another concession–White gets the open file.)} 59.
axb5 axb5 60. Ra1 R4c7 61. Ra6 Rb7 62. Rd2 Rbc7 63. Rc2 Rb7 64. Nf1 Kf8
( {(Immediately after the game Mike told me I missed a chance with}
64. … b4 65. c4 Rd8 66. Rd2 Rbd7 {winning back a pawn. True, but the
computer shows an elegant refutation:} 67. c5! Rxd4 68. Rd6!! Rxd2 69.
Nxd2 Bxd6 70. exd6 {and the passers will triumph.)} )
65. Nd2 Kg7 66. Ne4 Kf8? 67. Rca2 Rbc7 68. Ra8 {(Exchanging a pair of
Rooks will break all resistance. Congratulations to state champ Mike
Brooks!)} 1-0[/ctpgn]

2016 CCSCSL Championship

Used by permission of Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis; originally posted at

2016 CCSCSL Championship

2016 Club Championship: Five Survive

by Jonathan Schrantz

The 2016 Club Championship was the biggest Championship in Club history in every way imaginable with a record number of participants, a record number of Grandmasters, and a record number of Club Champions! Fifty-six players, including five Grandmasters (GM) and six other titled players, came out this year to compete for the title of Club Champion. All five Grandmasters that came had hopes of becoming the Champion, but nobody had expected that all five of them would be crowned this year in an unprecedented five-way tie. The five winners were Alex Shimanov, Illia Nyzhnyk, Yaroslav Zherebukh, Priyadharshan Kannappan, and Denes Boros.

The winner of the Club Championship is forever immortalized at the Club by having their name engraved on the prestigious Club Championship trophy. The trophy sits on the second floor of the Chess Club  on the trophy case and towers in size over the other trophies on display. The Club Championship also comes with a prize fund of $3,000 unconditionally guaranteed.

Heading into the final round the chief arbiter, FA Mike Kummer, joked about the possibility of a five-way tie but it required a series of improbable results that all came to fruition. There were draws on boards one and two between the Grandmasters entering the fourth and final round with three points. Kannappan and Shimanov drew as did Boros and Shimanov. Nyzhnyk, who was trailing the leaders by half a point coming into the last round, was able to beat IM Michael Brooks in the final round bringing the five tournament favorites to a score of 3.5/4 each.

While it may not come as a surprise to many that the Grandmasters had the best tournament result, more than one GM had to struggle in the early rounds against significantly lower-rated opponents. Of note, Ben Shoykhet (rated 1783) had a winning position against GM Priyadharshan Kannappan in the first round and, after the game, the Grandmaster admitted that he was spending a lot of time during the game deciding if he should offer a draw. Unfortunately for Shoykhet, the crafty and resourceful GM was able to pull off a major comeback and win the game.

Congratulations to all of the winners this year and thank you to everyone that came out and made the event so successful and entertaining. Our next tournament will take place on National Chess Day, which falls on October 8 this year.

2-On-2 Team Championship 2016

No team had a perfect 3.0 score and three teams tied for first with 2.5 points in the 2-on-2 Team Championship Saturday, June 18 at the Chess Club & Scholastic Center of Saint Louis.

Under the set-up both players would have to win for a complete point for the team. However several individual players did have perfect scores but the team score determined the final standings.

The three teams taking the top spot and $83.33 (to be split by the team members) were the Kansas City Chess Club (Kenneth Fee Jr., 1865, and Franklin Whitsell, 1777), Space Monkey Mafia (Danny Machuca, 1858, and Iris Zhou, 1718), and Baby Bears (Tom Polgar Shutzman, 2134, and Rakshana Sundara, 1314).

Kansas City Chess Club and Space Monkey Mafia faced off in the final round. Zhou beat Whitsell but Fee beat Machuca as the teams tied.

“Iris sacked her queen and got one rook and two knights,” Whitsell said. “And her two knights had outposts in the middle of the board.”

Asked why the two made the journey to the River City to play, Fee said, “It’s a happening place.”

“We like the team concept,” Fee said. “Franklin and I travel a lot to tournaments and we don’t like to play each other.”

Mike Kummer (1799) performed double duty directing the tournament and playing with Teo Quijada (1758) on the team Mega Men.

Kummer called it a “fun tournament.”

“It’s good to see the camaraderie between the team mates,” he said.

Among the clever team names was Al About That Bass, featuring Al Howlett and Keith Bass. Honwlett said Bass didn’t get it until he played the song “All About That Bass” for him. They also split $60 for their winning effort. The Naples Knights were a team from Florida, presumably Naples (Tony Burrus, 1878, and Dylan Flegel, 841). Michael Pugachev, 1082, and Leonardo Ludaescher, 828, comprised the team, Turtle Power! (Two of the Teenage Mutant Teenage Turtles are named Michelangelo and Leonardo.)

Three teams each won $13.33. Those teams were the Terrible Toddlers (Grant Johnson, 1293, and Aidan Johnson, 1292), Cloud Nine (Steven Evans, 1684, and Jason Woolem, 540), and Booooooo (Santosh Ramakrishnan, 683, and Prakash Ramakrishnan, 614).

Full tournament crosstable:

Show Me Classic 2016

Three players scored a perfect 4.0 to tie for first in the Show Me Classic at the Chess Club & Scholastic Center Saturday, May 28.

However, one of the three stands out. Corey Axelson of St. Louis played in his first classic tournament and went undefeated to go from unrated to a provisional rating of 2253.

Axelson, 24, said he played high school chess at Parkway Central a few years ago but has been coming to the chess club the past two months. He has been taking lessons from club chess instructor Danny Machuco (1859). Student beat teacher in the third round. Axelson also took down Tim Nesham (1751) in the second round.

Also tying for first were Bob Holliman (2205) of Kansas City and Tom Gaul, of Iowa. Gaul beat William Nesham (1994) in the last round to tie for the top spot.

Kansas City master Ron Luther (2200) finished just behind them at 3.5 in another teacher vs. pupil match. Vikram Arun (1962) and Luther battled to a draw in the last round and a tie in the standings. Arun won the class A section with the draw. For Arun it was his first tournament in two years.

“My play is better than it has been,” Holliman said. “I did a better job of making my opponents come up with bad ideas, which I usually do,” he said, laughing.

Tournament Director Jonathan Schrantz had been shooting for 50 players for the one-day tournament over the holiday weekend. When Saturday morning hit, he more than surpassed that number.

“It was a frenzy,” he said. “We had 25 people show up at the last minute. We weren’t sure we would be able to get everyone in the tournament hall.”

The reason for the numbers: Several young players. Of the 73 players, 24 had triple digit ratings. And many did not just roll over. Praveen Chakinala of Missouri scored three points, good for 17th place, and boosted his rating from 818 to 992.

Full tournament crosstable:

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

“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.

2015 Missouri Class Championships

Used by permission of Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis; originally posted at

State Championships Break Century Mark for 1st Time

Attendance at the Missouri Novice and Class Championship broke the century mark for the first time this year as 124 players competed for the chance to become a state champion between the two events. The winner of each class was awarded a plaque and earned the right to call themselves a Missouri State Champion. The extra participants meant exciting chess, a blitz playoff, and a controversial last round ruling in the Class E section.

The Missouri Novice Championship, a four round tournament, took place on Saturday, June 7. Two players tied for first with a perfect 4/4 score and there was a remarkable nine way tie for third. Owen Hill (unrated) and Austin Roth (950) were the only two to win all of their games and a blitz tiebreaker was used to determine who would go home with a plaque and the title of Missouri Novice Champion.

Roth won the coin toss and selected the White pieces for the five minute blitz game. It was the first time either player had ever sat down to play an over-the-board blitz game and they were both anxious and excited. The game was an up and down affair that could have gone either way until White hung mate in one and Hill became the 2015 Missouri Novice Champion.

“That was pretty intense,” Hill said after the game.

Hill played a nice attacking game in the third round as seen below:

The Missouri Class Championship took place over the same weekend as the Novice Championship but was a five round two day affair with longer time control.

Only two players that qualified for the Master section attended the tournament – NM Iskandar Aripov (2326) and FM Doug Eckert (2294) – so the section was combined with ten players in the Expert section.

Master/Expert Class Winner, Tomislav Juricic // photo: Austin Fuller

Master/Expert Class Winner, Tomislav Juricic // photo: Austin Fuller

Ultimately, it was an expert that took first place in the Master / Expert section. Tomislav Juricic (2144) scored an impressive 4.5/5 points in his first standard rated game since 1999. Juricic had good results against the tournament’s top players, recording a draw against Aripov and a win against Eckert.

Juricic was losing for most his game against Eckert, but he accomplished the surprising idea of trapping the White queen in the center of the board with 44. … Rd5. Eckert assumed he was losing at that point but was stunned to learn after the game that White should still be playing for a win; Eckert’s coordination of his pieces and very strong passed pawn trumped his huge material deficiency.

In Class A, Steven Bange (1910) took first place with a 4/5 score. Bange took down the top two highest rated players in the section with his typical solid style of play. In second place was Kaleb Gosdin (1916), who drove up from Georgia to play at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis for the first time. Gosdin enjoyed his stay and promises to return to the chess club in the future.

Class B Winner, Darian Turner // photo: Austin Fuller

Class B Winner, Darian Turner // photo: Austin Fuller

In Class B, Darian Turner (1719) had an exceptionally strong performance and won the section with 4.5/5 points. Turner didn’t seem to make any mistakes in any of his games and he made winning his section look easy. His was the first game to finish in the last round due to an unfortunate opening blunder by his opponent.

Eric Hoffner (1523) won the Class C section with 4/5 points followed by a three way tie for second. In round four, Hoffner played the very unorthodox rook maneuver Rh8-h5-h8-h5. The peculiar rook moves turned out to be a game winner after 24. … Nxe3 as the White queen was unable to take the knight in view of 25. Qxe3 Re5, making sense of the position of the rook on h5.

Class D was won by the section’s highest rated player, Sacchin Milli (1357). Milli scored 4.5/5 points with his only draw coming in the last round to the second place winner David Dong (853). Dong had a phenomenally strong performance as the section’s second lowest rated player by scoring 4/5 points and winning clear second. Dong received an impressive 246 rating point boost for his effort.

In Class E, a very controversial ruling in the final round may have determined the winner of the section. Aaradhya Diwan (1165) had the White pieces against Brandon Stanfield (1050) in round 5 and both players had a chance to compete for first place.

Early in the game, Diwan reported to the tournament directors that Stanfield had touched his queen. Stanfield claimed that he only brushed the piece and never intended to move it, but a witness confirmed that the Black queen was grasped with his fingers and Stanfield was forced to make an undesirable queen move.

Stanfield was on the back foot for the remainder of the game but managed to draw a king and pawn verses king endgame. The draw meant Diwan and Stanfield were guaranteed second place. Kevin Powell (1189) won the section with a score of 4/5.

Join us next month on July 18 as the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis celebrates their seventh anniversary with the Saint Louis Premiere and Amateur – a one day, four round tournament with a prize fund of $1,600 unconditionally guaranteed. Select items will be on sale throughout the Club and members will be treated to free cupcakes.

Bill Wright Saint Louis Open

By Ken West
MCA Bulletin Editor

Upsets, draws and more highlighted The Bill Wright Saint Louis Open at the Chess Center and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis April 17-19. In the Open section, 21 players faced off, with 13 of them holding master’s titles. IM Ashwin Jayaram (2552), GM Alejandro Ramirez (2675) and GM Vladimir Georgiev (2598) to the top three spots, each taking home just over $1,500. But none had a perfect five rounds as they each finished with four points.

NM Nick Karlow, a name familiar to Missouri chess players, had a tournament to remember scoring draws against Ramirez and IM Priyadharshan Kannappan,both times with the black pieces, and finished with three points. Karlow said they were his strongest draws.

“I was better in the final position (against Ramirez), but chess is hard,” he said. “It was very complex. I saw the three-fold and took it.”

He has had tournaments with perfect scores but he said those results were against weaker fields. “This is definitely my strongest performance, I think so,” Karlow said. “I was completely outclassed in the last game. Georgiev just strangled my King’s Indian.”

CCSCSL Manager Alex Marler had a strong follow-up to his Mid-America Open results. In the opening round he beat IM Angelo Young (2426) and finished with 2.5 points. “I should be at my all-time rating high around 2140,” he said. Marler said Young kept finding moves to hold off his eventual victory.

Joey Michael Kelly (2101) broke the string of titled players at the top, finishing sixth. He finished with 3.5 points, scoring draws against NM Alex Richter (2273) and NM Spencer Finegold (2197). He won his final round game against a regular on the Missouri chess scene, FM Doug Eckert (2294).

Young Julian Proleiko (2001) of Saint Louis scored a draw against NM Richter on his way to 2.5 points and a $275 payoff.

Adil Skuka (1993) won the Under 2000 section with 4.5 points, good for $1,000. He won his first four rounds and drew second place finisher Leo Poppante (1828) in the final game. A name everyone will recognize, Selden Trimble (1943) came in third with four points. He and Poppante each won $475. Out-of-state player Alex Stiger (1745) took fourth place with 3.5 points, which earned her $500.

Scott Anderson (1397), followed up his Mid-America performance with three points, good for $300. His first round game was a win over Micah Losee (1901).

James Ivy (1543) also pocketed $300 with three points. He credited his success to an opening he began studying about three months ago.

“I played the Colle everytime I had white,” he said. It was good for two wins, with a loss in the system to Robert Taras (1947).

“I get good results with it,” Ivy said. “They are simple lines to memorize. Yeah, I’ve been playing it in the quads, everything.”

Dylan Mize (1235) grabbed the upset prize with a win over Nicholas Naylor (1874). He also held Jeffrey Schragin (1864), Jason Joseph Clark (1839) and Paul Goddard (1828) to draws on his way to 2.5 points.

MCA Secretary Bob Howe returned to over-the-board play and cited his personal history with the event as one reason.

“The St. Louis Open was the first tournament I ever played, and I always look forward to coming back and playing in it again,” Howe said. “I believe this is my tenth time playing it.  My results weren’t as good as hoped, but I enjoyed spending the weekend with so many chess lovers.”

Howe (1731) knocked the dust off his chess game with 2.5 points.

Tournament Crosstable

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