DCC 2024 Tribute to Martin Luther King Tournament

2:27pm Friday, January 19th, 2024

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...unlike online chess, this is the real thing.

The DCC named this tournament a Tribute to Martin Luther King because if anyone is worthy of tributes, it is Mr. King. Understanding that racism is abhorrent, Reverend King devoted his life, and ultimately gave his life to have people judged by the "content of their character" rather than the "color of their skin." This great man could also be addressed as Doctor King, having earned a Systematic Theology doctorate from Boston University. He was indeed an accomplished individual. Well deserving of the National Holiday named in his honor. 

As a white person from a small town in Pennsylvania, I first became aware of racism as a young teenager when visiting relatives in northern Alabama. There I saw two water fountains in a small town country store. One was clean and labeled "Whites Only". The other was set at a lower level, unclean, and labeled "Coloreds". In that same area, I heard racism pretty much any time a white person was talking about a black person. But being white, I've never felt, experienced, or lived with racism. Like when a black man with his family would go to a restaurant and be told, we don't serve "your kind" in here. Blatant disrespect. I doubt if there is a black person in America who hasn't experienced subtle or worse, in your face racism at one time or another, if not daily. 


Another MLK quote I like is: “We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.”

Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a Montgomery, Alabama bus, and it might be said that was the beginning of Dr. King's civil rights crusade that is ongoing still because, sad to say, it can not be denied that racism still exists in American society. A guy I worked with in a welding shop, who was of Mexican heritage, would say "People are people". Meaning regardless of skin color or nationality. It's a shame that Caucasians still use derogatory words for anyone not white or born in the USA. With all that said, I'll get off my high horse, and get on with the summary of this excellent DCC tournament. 


DCC President and Chief TD, Earle Wikle cheerleading :-)...


...and here awarding prize checks to deserving winners. 

From an organizer's point of view, what makes a chess tournament successful? In my opinion, it's the registration. If the regular players keep coming back and the tournament attracts new players, then the DCC is doing something right.

Also, when players peruse the TLA and see a huge prize fund with our multitude of sections and Under prizes, everyone - regardless of their rating - realizes that they can win not only USCF rating points but also significant prize money. The 2024 MLK had a record registration of 134 players and an outstanding 5000 dollar prize fund. 


Wall to wall chess players is always a good sign of a popular chess tournament. 

Therefore, I can say without question that the DCC is giving chess players what they want. They perhaps think: Hey, unlike online chess, this is the real thing. My opponent, who has a real name, is directly across the board from me and wants what I want. Competition, prize money, and USCF rating points.  


Speaking of prize money, DCC Treasurer, Luis Jimenez is on the job. Will Wolf with the cool blue shades :-)

We play tournament chess for the competition, and the opportunity to take rating points and prize money from whoever is sitting on the other side of the table. But maybe more so, just for the thrill and satisfaction of finding a game winning tactical shot. Or in my case, some way to draw the game instead of losing :-) Another good thing about chess and chess players is how they usually engage in post game analysis. Where woulda, coulda, shoulda, moves are analyzed, or demonstrated. Raising the game of one player raises the game of all players. 


Sullivan McConnell opening with the King pawn.

Incredibly in the Championship section, where the big dogs run, there was a 5-way tie for 1st place. Sullivan McConnell, Daniel Herman, Brian Wall, Rhett Langseth, and Luis Jimenez, all scored 4 points. I bet Mr. Jimenez, who is rated "only" 1812  is especially pleased to be sharing the 2000 dollar combined prize payout with three Masters and Rhett, a strong Expert, and who is sure to be a USCF Master soon. And no doubt Luis will soon be a USCF Expert. Luis started out by holding NM Wall (2207) to a draw, won against Sandeep Mathew (1657), upset Patrick Wright (1921), held Daniel Herman (2233) to a draw, and beat Suhaas Narayanan (2053) in the last round. His rating point difference totals up to 758 points!! Mr. Jimenez was only higher rated in his game against Mr. Mathew. Also in this section, the young Rocco Degeest had two big upset wins. He won against NM Richard Shtivelband in round 1, and against much higher rated Laurence Wutt in round 2.  


Maybe it's the way Luis 'sits' at the board :-)

In the U1800 section, Kristopher Zelkin and Emmett Lignell each ended up with 4.5 points. Mr Zelkin had a 3rd round bye. Mr. Lignell started off with a draw, before winning all his other games. Each player won 350 dollars. The 3rd place prize of 200 dollars and 1 cent was shared by Jon Sealander, William Wolf, and Jeff Baffo. If we had Upset prizes in our weekend tournaments - as we do in the DCC Tuesday and Thursday night tournaments - long time Colorado chess tournament player, Robert Carlson would have won it for his 189 point rating difference win against Ken Doykos, an equally long time Colorado player.   


Long time Colorado player, Jeff Baffo with the White pieces.    

Krish Mathimaran ruled the U1600 section finishing with a perfect 5-0 score to win 350 dollars. Greg Wheeler lost his round 1 game but bounced back to win his next four and take the 2nd place prize of 225 dollars. The third place prize was shared by Felix McMillan and Sumanth Kaja. They each had multiple upset wins and each player won 62 dollars and 50 cents. In addition, Nathaniel Lasaga-Ivey's 3 points were all upset wins, and Sofiia Gainullina also scored 3 points by upsetting her opponents. The best upset in this section was a game from a DCC Tuesday night regular. Youngster James Corbett had a big 242 point rating difference win in the last round against long time Colorado player, Dean Brown. 


Foreground is Antony Brown (w) vs. Greg Wheeler (b) Next board is Krish Mathimaran (w) vs. Felix McMillian (b). John Brezina with his magic camera is leaning against the wall on the left. 

In the U1400 section, Sankar Parasuram ended up with 4 points, which included a nice 100 point rating difference win over Karthika Sakthisaravanan in round 3. Sankar took home the 1st place prize of 325 dollars. The combined 2nd and 3rd place prize of 324 dollars and 99 cents was shared by Thwayne Johnson, Pranav Male, and Zephyr Zink. Ashwin Mathimaran ruled the U1200 section. As did Krish Mathimaran in the U1600 section. I'm assuming these players are related. They both finished in 1st place and they both did so with perfect 5-0 scores. Ashwin adds 300 dollars to the family coffers. If they are related, I imagine they are having a big family celebration :-)


Players mentioned in the text may be in this photo or maybe not. What can I say?

Only a half point behind, Brendan Wells took the 2nd place prize of 200 dollars. After a round 1 draw Mr. Wells won four in a row. Mark Kingsly, Demetri Jones, and John Bloemker all ended up with 4 points and they share the combined 3rd place and U1000 prize, with each Player winning 83 dollars and 33 cents. Demetri and John both had huge upset wins to make up most of their final score. The best upset in this section was Benjamin Smith's 645 point rating difference win against Frank Atwood in round 2. 


All the photographs in this report are by John Brezina or Shirley Herman. John is standing with his camera in the center. See all of Mr. Brezina's Photos from the tournament here.  

I'll freely admit I don't know or would not recognize a lot of the prize winners mentioned in this report. In a way, I'm glad about that because it means they are likely new to Colorado chess. The problem is any more I don't recognize half the players I do know :-) I do hope everyone who plays in DCC tournaments is pleased with the DCC and the prize structure of our tournaments. With multiple sections and Under prizes, how could we be any more fair? I know. Add upset prizes for each section :-)


Assistant TD Peter Barlay keeping an eye on things. 

As always, a big THANK YOU to all the players who participate in DCC tournaments. You all are the reason the DCC is thriving. Thanks also to DCC President and TD, Earle Wikle, along with DCC TD's , Phil Brown, Weston Taylor, and Luis Jimenez. Without their time and effort, DCC tournaments would not happen, or be what they are...Great. Thanks again to Shirley Herman and John Brezina for the photos. My bad for not being able to positively identify some of the players pictured. 

Note that Mr. Brezina usually makes up a photobook of DCC major tournaments. If you would like such a book for your coffee table, contact John at skibrezina@gmail.com Scroll down to see a few more samples of his outstanding photography.


Clearly, chess is a game for all ages. Or can I say chess is for the ages ...


... and now the lad is just waiting for the lass to strike.


Is this gentleman's shirt too distracting for a chess tournament :-)


I'm going to figure this out.


Shirley Herman also doing some figuring. What to do about that Knight :-)


I'm glad it's not the middle finger that the youngster has raised :-)



Two of Colorado's best players. Eamon Montgomery is about to move, and Daniel Herman is ready for anything. 


I read this book on chess, so I'm good to go, right?

A great DGT display of the top boards at this location.

And here is the Brian Wall Games Section and the DGT boards link

rn1qkb1r/pp3ppp/1n6/3PP3/2p3b1/2N2N2/PP4PP/R1BQKB1R w KQkq - 10 20

1) Luis Jimenez vs. Brian Wall NM Wall says this is one of his favorite openings, that he has been playing for 50 years. Then says "White has many good moves."11. Qd4, Be2, d6, Bxc4, Bg5, h3." I asked Brian why he likes the opening when White has so many good moves in this position. His reply, "Because I like f**ked up, crazy openings" :-)

2kr4/ppp2ppr/2b2n1p/2q1pN2/4P3/2NP4/PPP1Q1PP/R4R1K w - - 15 30

2) Brian Wall vs. James Newby. Round 2. In this position, Brian played 16. Rae1. What is a better move? 

NM Wall's answers after the last diagram.

2kr4/ppp2p1r/2b2npN/2q1p3/4P3/2NP4/PPP1Q1PP/4RR1K b - - 17 33

2a) the same game NM Wall has just played 17. Nxh6??. Why is that such a bad move? Brian says "I should play 17 Qe3 or 17 Ne3" Find the sweet tactic here that both players missed. 

6r1/2p2p2/2k1b3/1p2p3/PP2P3/2KPN3/5RPr/4R3 w - - 34 68
2b) the same game NM Wall gives several good moves after 34...axb5. Think like Brian Wall and see if your answer matches what Mr. Wall should have played. Instead of 35. Nd5?? Still, all was well when Mr. Newby played 35. bxa4. 

8/5p1p/1p2P1p1/p1k2P2/2P5/P2K1R1P/8/3r4 w - - 46 92

3) Vedanth Margale vs Brian Wall. Round 3. Final position. Draw. Vedanth played very well to reach this position while playing on the 30 second increment and here played Ke4, repeating the position for the 3rd time. Brian acknowledged that 47. Ke2 would have been a winning move. The young Vedanth may have thought - I'm in time pressure and I'm playing Brian Wall. I better take the draw. - And the whole room heard NM Wall breathe a sigh of relief :-)

5Q2/4P2p/2p2bk1/p1P3p1/P2P4/8/6PP/5RK1 w - - 40 80

4) Brian Wall vs. Sai Dasari. Round 4. When you are dead lost against Brian Wall it's best to resign, or NM Wall will toy with you like a cat does with a mouse. Here he dragged the game out till he could under promote and mate in one. Do you see the under promotion that mates? Burn your chess card if you don't :-)

r3r1k1/1p1q1ppp/3p2n1/1ppP2Bn/4P3/7P/PPQN1PP1/R4RK1 w - - 17 34

5) Owen Curtis vs. Brian Wall. Round 5. In this position, after 17...b6-b5 NM Wall says, "I saw 18 Qd1!! was annoying and felt stupid, instead Curtis played 18. Rfe1 and resigned next move to my immense relief." Not necessarily from the game position, but due to illness. Brian said he "...looked tired and green around the gills." 

Brian Wall's answers to Diagram #2 

2) 16. Nxg7

2a) I missed 17 Nxh6??  Nh5!!  18 Nxf7??  Ng3#
17 Nxh6??  Nh5!! 18 Qg4+  Bd7  19 Qg5  Qf8  20  Nd5 or g4  leaves 
White struggling. I sat with a poker face for 10 minutes while James Newby missed 17 ... Nh5!!  too.

2b) I have the advantage after 35. a5, ab+, or Ra1.
Instead 35 Nd5??  worked after 35 ... ba??  with 12 minutes left 36 Ne7+
I have nothing after  35 Nd5??   Bxd5 or ... Kd6


Thanks again to all, 

 J.C. MacNeil


Last Modified: 1/23/2024 at 2:03pm Views: 296