The 2014 Bill Wright Saint Louis Open, held April 11-13, 2014, was a typical boring weekend swiss, where the one GM, me, was certain to take first place over a few select "experts" in a tournament with small prizes. Oh wait, that's not right at all! What I meant was: this was one of the strongest swiss tournaments ever held in Missouri with seven GMs, over 100 players and thousands in prizes!
Topping the rating lists in the open section were World-top-20 Wesley So, followed by Georg Meier, Alejandro Ramirez, and a few other GMs to boot. Strong IMs Justin Sarkar and Priyadharshan Kannappan (why don't I get paid by the letter to write these articles?!) meant even the GMs would not have an easy time.
GM Wesley So | Image Saint Louis Chess Club
In the end, the event was won with a score of four to one, as five players tied for first. So, Meier, Ramirez, GM Manuel Hoyos, and FM Tansel Turgut (!!) each won $850 for their efforts. There were very few GM draws, even though there were several GM pairings. The only quick draw was seen on board one of the final round, between Hoyos and Ramirez (somehow they could communicate even though they are from different countries!). All the other GM matchups were bloodbaths!
GM Meier and GM Corrales | Image Saint Louis Chess Club
I liked the finish of Wesley's game in round two:
Unfortunately, I drew round one against a 2100 (I had won 23 consecutive USCF rated games between Nov 20, 2013 and now - so, time for another streak!), but not for want of trying! We played 114 moves over four and a half hours (not easy when the time control is g/90!). I took a bye in round two, so I could do commentary for the Death Match! That really was a death match, except the server died instead of the players... but I digress. Now, I would need to win all my games in rounds three through five to win serious cash!
Here is my effort from round three, against Lindenwood University student Nolan Hendrickson:
The GMs played in round three, and the games were all exciting! Meier and Hoyos played an exciting draw, in which Georg missed a chance early:
How did an FM tie for first in this illustrious field? Good pairings don't hurt! Most of the GMs played 2-3 GMs and IMs. Turgut won a tough game in the last round against Super-IM Justin Sarkar. Justin had a nice edge, but got lost in the labyrinth of complications.
IM Justin Sarkar | Image Saint Louis Chess Club
Meier won a long endgame against Corrales in the final round. Corrales needed a win for clear first, and a draw to tie, but chess is cruel! After beating Wesley So in round three, and drawing Alejandro Ramirez in round four, he gets no money for his efforts! Tough pairings. I drew "Pri" in the last round, in a very long game, where both of us were winning at different points (not at the same point). That draw ensured neither of us won any money either! So won brilliantly against GM Anatoly Bykhovsky in the last round, and I think it was the best game of the tournament.
The tournament was awesome, and I would like to thank the directors, Mike Kummer and Tony Rich. The rounds started on time, and cell phones did not go off during the games! Snacks and drinks were provided for the titled players and there seemed to be almost no snafus for a tournament of this size.
Thanks to Tony Rich and The Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis for the pictures. You can see the USCF rating report of the event by clicking here.