Exciting was to have, once again, a Grand Master playing in the Denver Open.
I have ambivalent feelings about this year's Denver Open. Mainly because while we based our prize fund on 100 players, we all anticipated a larger turnout. Disappointing was the absence of most of Colorado's higher rated players. The good news is we did not get less than 100 players, so we were able to pay out the advertised prize fund.
Last year we had 122 players despite a spring blizzard the weekend of the tournament. When picking a date for this year's tournament we choose June to not risk another spring storm. Not realizing the CSCA Class Championship, the Loveland Open, plus the rescheduled Casa Mayan one day tourney would be crowding the Denver Open. Maybe too many tournaments too close together. Maybe the new somewhat out of the way location. Maybe this, maybe that..... Colorado is a great state for outdoor activities and June is the beginning of summer.... We will consider a different date/location for next year.
The 2017 Denver Open up and running.
Exciting was to have, once again, a Grand Master playing in the Denver Open. GM Pavel Blatny was passing through Denver, and he called up Dean Clow saying he wanted to play in the tournament. Dean, of course, gave the GM a free entry and I believe that was his only compensation. GM Blatny was approachable, not the least bit standoffish, easy going and quite likable. He told me he would be willing to give a lecture and/or a simul at a Tuesday night meeting of the DCC next time he was in Denver. I was afraid to ask him what his fee would be, but if not outrageous, hopefully, we can make it happen.
GM Blatny took clear 1st place but not with a perfect score. His last round pairing with the second highest rated player in the tournament, FM Nikhilesh Kunche, was a game that everyone was looking forward to. Unfortunately, a draw was offered and accepted on move 12. I'm pretty sure it was not NIkhilesh that made the draw offer, and of course, it would have been hard for Mr. Kunche to say, "No, Grandmaster, let's play on". Like I would have.... yeah, right :-)
Mr. Colorado Chess, NM Brian Wall, on his way to winning with the black pieces against Zhiji Li.
Perhaps GM Blatny did not realize he could still be tied for 1st place if Zhiji Li could win his last round game with Brian Wall; and what a battle that game was. At move 37 it's Mr. Wall's 2 Rooks. Bishop, Knight and 3 pawns against Mr. Li's Queen, Rook, and 5 pawns. Talk about complications!! At move 64. Mr. Pawn Wave Guy is about to Queen a pawn and Zhiji had to resign. (see diagram below) Mr. Li was held to a draw by Sara Herman in round 1, so with the loss to Brian he finished with 3.5 points and was left out of the money.
The exciting game between GM Blatny and Chris Peterson has drawn a crowd. In the foreground, FM Nikhilesh Kunche with the black pieces is playing Akshat Jain. Bill O'Neil is standing to the left.
Thus, GM Blatny won the $300 1st place prize. But not first without a precarious round 3 game with Chris Peterson. The general consensus was at one point the GM was lost. Quoting GM Blatny's text message he sent to Brian Wall:
"He played it great, it was a very nice combination. But the end shows the well know truth that it is hardest to win the winning position and you must watch out for last tricks from "retired" GM. It was a fighting game with a of of interesting tactics, so I hope you all enjoy it despite mistakes from both sides. Looking forward to seeing you in the future, Pavel" (see diagrams below)
Nikhilesh Kunche's draw with the GM gave him 4 points. Aleksandr Bozhenov also finished with 4 points and Brian's last round win gave him 4 points. I am sure Mr. Bozhenov is pleased to be sharing the combined 2nd, 3rd, and U2000 prizes. In addition to winning $146.67, Aleksandr gained 35 rating points. Nikhilesh and Brian of course also won $146.67.
GM Pavel Blatny with the Black pieces against Eamon Montgomery. Photo by Don "Tex" Rose
Interestingly both Mr. Bozhenov and Mr. Wall lost to Eamon Montgomery. Of all the players mentioned so far, without question Eamon had the toughest pairings and played very well to score 3.5 points. Mr. Montgomery lost to GM Blatny in round 4, but it is safe to say he answered the bell and traded punches with the GM. (see diagram below) It is a shame to be left out of the prize money after such good play. Maybe the gain of nearly 30 rating points is some consolation. Myself, I'd rather win the money :-)
Sara Herman playing Black against Sheena Zeng.
I can't tell you how much I'd like to see more young teenagers like Sara Herman, Sheena Zeng, Teah and Selah Williams get into playing chess. It they start playing in high school, I think they are likely to play in college and continue playing as adults. Of course, there are adult Colorado women who play often, Ann Davies for one, but in general, the percentage of women at any chess tournament is abysmal. Why is that? I think women have the grit, determination, and stamina it takes to play chess. I know they are just as smart, devious, and crafty as men. Think Judith Polgar - Hou Yifan - Sabrina Foisor. Ladies, chess is a sport where you can compete with any man on an equal basis. Anyway, all that said, Sara won the U1900 prize of $90 with a 3.5 point score. Tied with and ahead of many men.
Edward Yasutake wearing headphones is playing Rattawut Lapcharoensap. Neil Bhavikatti in the blue shirt is playing Damian Nash.
I don't have any idea who Edward Yasutake is, but I certainly hope he can play at the DCC on Tuesday nights. He mowed down the U1800 section. He was the only player in the whole tournament to have a perfect score. That's impressive. He secured a clear 1st place with a last round win over Rattawut Lapcharoensap and won $300. Rattawut, who played at the Casa Mayan tournament, is from Wyoming and came back down to play here at the Denver Open. I don't see why Mr. Lapcharoensap can't drive back and forth to play on Tuesday nights :-)
Brian Rountree playing the White pieces against Shiva Kakarla
The combined 2nd, 3rd, and U1800 prizes were won by Brian Rountree and Daniel Ruvins. They each finished with 4 points and they both win $175. Mr. Rountree works hard on his game and only lost to Daniel in round 3. Daniel in turn only lost to Mr. Yasutake in round 4. Mr. Ruvins then proceeded to trounce your reporter in round 5. I played my usual bad opening, made a bunch of middle game mistakes, and lost the ending. After the game Daniel said he couldn't believe he was playing a 1700 player. Right :-)
Michael Crill's last round draw with Robert Carlson gave him 3.5 points and that won the $90 U1600 prize Mr. Crill only lost to the Mr.Lapcharoensap in round 4. Rattawut also finished with 3.5 points and won $90 worth of gas money by winning the U1500 prize. He had chances for a better prize but had to face Mr. Yasutake in the last round, and as mentioned above, Mr. Yasutake was taking no prisoners.
I also have no idea who Tianyi Evans Gu is, but again I hope he can play at the DCC on Tuesday nights. He took clear 1st place in the U1400 section and won $300 with a fine 4.5 score. He won his last round game against DCC regular, Robert Cernich, so I know Tianyi had to play well to do that.
The youngster with the hair is Nicolas Torres, beside him is Matthew Wroblewski-Brunelle
Sulleiman Omar's provisional rating will go up like 400 points after this tournament. Matthew Wroblewski-Brunelle's provisional rating will take a 200 point jump. Both of these players played very well to score 4 points to share the combined 2nd, 3rd and U1400 prize. They both win $175. Welcome to the world of rated tournament chess.
Wearing the hat is Kirk Tuesburg. In the center behind Mr. Tuesburg, is Sulleiman Omar's brother, Haroun.
Mark Fischer is not too upset after losing to Robert Cernich.
I am pleased to say that DCC regular, Mark Fischer, shares the $90 U1300 prize with Kirk Tuesburg. They both had to win their last round games and they answered the call. Finishing with 3 points they each won $45.
Kathy Schneider is the older lady in this picture, Lauren Epard the younger. Sulleiman Omar is sitting to the right of Lauren. Everybody knows who the fat guy is :-)
Lauren Epard won the $90 U1200 prize with a 3 point score. I don't know Ms. Epard but the USCF has her state as Arizona. Dax Epard played in the U1800 section and I am guessing they are brother and sister. Maybe they recently moved to the Denver area or drove up from Arizona to be at this tournament. In the first case, let me mention Tuesday nights at the DCC. In the second, thank you for making the trip.
Selah Williams with the White pieces playing Vibi Varghese
Teah Williams with the White pieces playing Calvin DeJong. Griffin McConnell playing Sheena Zeng.
Finally, I would like to mention that the Williams family, Bill and his lovely wife, Jodie, along with their kids, Jesse, Joshua, Teah, and Selah, have long been supporters and promoters of Colorado chess. They are now in the process of opening a 7 day a week Chess Center in Colorado Springs. We can all hope it is a successful venture and we can have a franchise in Denver someday. Visit their web page clubchess.org for details.
Also I could not have identified the players in the photos without Shirley Herman's vast knowledge of all things chess in Colorado. Ms. Herman also took most of the photos used in this report. Don "Tex" Rose and I took the others. The tournament was smoothly directed by Todd Bardwick. Mr. Bardwick was assisted by Dean Clow and CaissaChess software.
Here are a few diagrams from some on the excellent games played at the DCC sponsored 2017 Denver Open.
Round 3. GM Pavel Blatny vs, NM Chris Peterson. Whooowhee, what a game this was. Quoting Brian Wall, "This is one of the most exciting games I ever witnessed. Grandmaster Pavel Blatny and Chris Peterson were going at it hammer and tong." White has just played 15. Bc3. Mr. Peterson gave a well received DCC Tuesday night lecture on this game. His comment about this position was, [paraphrasing] White has played passively and his King is still in the center. Well, let the fireworks begin. https://denverchess.com/games/view/16761
The same game after move 31. Ne7+. Brian Wall's comment here is, "There were many beautiful moments but to me there is a study like idea which finally brings the a5-Knight into play." Chris played 31... Kd7. Take a minute and try to see what the computer would have played in this position. The line is given at the end of this report. Brian goes on to say, "Chris might have more ideas, there were so many". Mr. Peterson is a tactical genius. Ideas light up in his mind like fireworks shot up into the night sky.
Round 5. Zhiji Li Vs NM Brian Wall. White has just played 37. Qd6. Do some calculations with this position. Tell me what you think :-) https://denverchess.com/games/view/16765
The same game. Final position. White resigns. Pawn Wave Guy strikes again.
Eamon Montgomery playing White against GM Pavel Blatny. Sullivan McConnell is playing Black against FM Nikhilesh Kunche.
Round 4. Eamon Montgomery vs. GM Pavel Blatny. White has just played 14. e5. Eamon's comment here is "His king is still in the center so I have to punish that." Eerily similar to Mr. Peterson's thought at nearly the same move number. Great minds think alike :-) https://denverchess.com/games/view/16773
The same game after 24... e4. A Grandmaster move. Mr. Montgomery's comment, "Dispelling my fantasy of an advantage."
Round 2. Sara Herman vs. Damian Nash. Black has just played 25... Nc5. Can you see the slick combination Sara played to win material? https://denverchess.com/games/view/16770 I had complimented Sara on winning against an Expert. Her reply with a smile was, "not an Expert anymore" :-)
Round 3, Damian Nash vs. Selah Williams. Black has just played 31... gh4. Mr. Nash is, of course, completely winning, but can you find the shot that wins immediately? https://denverchess.com/games/view/16768
Round 5. Akshat Jain vs. Eamon Montgomery. This is a randomly picked position from an interesting game between these two Experts. I sat in on their analysis, and was just stunned by what these guys are looking at during a game. They would flash through a line, reset the position without hesitation or mistake, and then go into another line. Look at me like did I see all that? I'd go yeah, that was interesting, not having a clue :-) Each of them seemed to be convinced the other was winning and the game ended in a draw. https://denverchess.com/games/view/16766
NM Carlos Santillan playing white against NM Brian Wall. Photo by Don "Tex" Rose.
Round 4. NM Carlos Santillan vs. NM Brian Wall. After 23. Kg2, Mr. Wall's comment in an email Is: "Every man must realize he can lose everything he owns, his wife, his house, his car, his dog, because a waiter in China drops a dish." - Charles Bukowski. A "drunken poet" reference to the Butterfly Effect.
Same game. Final position. Doctor Santillian has indeed lost everything. Somehow due to the butterfly effect of 23. Kg2. Only Brian understands these things :-)
The computer's suggestion in the Blatny vs. Peterson game is: 31... Bxe7!! 32 Rxe7 Ne4 33 c4 (to protect f2) Kd8!! trapping the Rook 34 Re5 Nxc4. Brian says this "was a clear winning chance for Chris."
Thanks to all, J.C. MacNeil