Open Trifecta: Twin Ports, Noel Skelton, Bloomington

Greetings, faithful blog readers! It is I, Fins0905. Several months have elapsed since my last blog post, so I figured I'd better get back on the horse (because I just KNOW you're suffering severe withdrawals from the absence of my blogs! Smile ).

I played three tournaments from August to early November, all of which were five-round open events in Minnesota. I also played a couple games in the Twin Cities Chess League for "Pawn America." I won't recap the open events in full (my Thanksgiving dinner was FAR too massive to attempt this); rather, I'd prefer to highlight a few interesting/instructive games from each event.

Aug 17-18: Twin Ports Open (Duluth, MN)

This tournament is organized by the Duluth chess crew of Dane Zagar, Dane Mattson, Iwu Okechukwu (plus Bruno Zagar and Marv Mattson!). Just like last year, these guys did a bang-up job in bringing a high-quality tournament to northern Minnesota.

Lecturing in Duluth

I gave a lecture and 35-board simul on Friday, Aug. 16. The simul was especially strong, with many 2000+ rated players taking me on! I gave up several draws (5-7, maybe?) and lost one game to a promising talent from Rochester, Maor Leker-Locker (1952). The local news ran a nice little segment on the tournament and simul here.

I began the tournament with 2/2. My win in round two against Matt Jensen ("smarterchess" on featured a neat pawn sacrifice.

The above operation is reminscient of the well-known game Kotov - Gligoric, Zurich 1953 (11...e4!):

After a third-round draw with my student, NM Andrew Tang (2353), I defeated NM Okechukwu Iwu to set up a final round matchup with another one of the organizers, Dane Mattson (also on 3.5/4). I won that game to take clear first:

Final round matchup: Dane Mattson (left) vs. me (right)

Dane's rating crossed 2200 USCF after this event, making him a National Master (NM). Congratulations to him!

Aug. 31-Sep. 1: Noel Skelton Open (Plymouth, MN)

Thanks to the generosity of local player/real estate mogul (he may take issue with this designation - ha!) Noel Skelton, this tournament once again took place over Labor Day weekend.

The huge news this year was the participation of 20-year old super-GM Wesley So, who currently sports a whopping FIDE rating of 2719! To put it mildly, a player of this capable rarely makes it out to Minnesota, let alone to play a weekend tournament. Wesley's tournament participation was secured by a connection with a local player, Andrew Hortillosa, and we were honored to have him.

I started off strong with 3/3. My second round contest saw a cool example of prophylaxis:

In round four I faced the man himself, GM Wesley So. Needless to say, he was also leading with a perfect score.

Aftewards, Wesley graciously agreed to annotate this contest with me, and our joint annotations appear in an article I wrote for the newly-released Chess Informant 118. Chess Informant is a venerable and VERY high-quality chess publication, and I strongly suggest that you purchase a copy (my column is just one of many in there!). 

Thanks to Chess Informant for allowing me to reproduce the above annotations. Support this wonderful company!

I won the final round game to finish with 4/5, but Wesley took clear first with an undefeated 5/5 (after a final round blitzing of NM Andrew Tang). Pretty cool to have a 2700 play in your backyard!

For posterity: my scoresheet!

Nov. 8-10: Bloomington Open (Bloomington, MN)

The Bloomington Open was a new event organized by Chicago-based TD Glenn Panner. For a first-time event, it was a monumental success! By my count, 136 players competed across two sections.

In the Open, I tied for first with FM Sean Nagle (2500) with 4.5/5. Sean is easily the strongest FIDE master I know, with a FIDE rating of 2400+ and two IM norms. If I continue to mention this, perhaps he will one day be "shamed" in to getting another IM norm to round out his title! You know you want to, Sean Smile

Sean and I didn't play each other in this event, but I did have a couple fairly interesting game in rounds four and five:

In my next blog I plan to recap an event I just competed in: the St. Louis Chess Classic (Nov. 21-27). Stay tuned!


  • 3 years ago


    nice blog post

  • 3 years ago


    I think it's called humor.

    but, how could you lost to a nobody like Wesley So?

    congrats for the norm, didn't know it, last time you said me no norm for you :), well, I know it does not keep you awake at night, but it would be nice to get a couple more :)

  • 3 years ago


     (because I just KNOW you're suffering severe withdrawals from the absence of my blogs! Smile ).

    At first, I thought this is another blog from another  self centered, egocentric, narcistic, etc. blogger. lol Smile 

    Very nice analyses. easy to follow. especially the game against  Wesley So since it shows the thoughts of two players.

    Now I will feel withdrawals waiting for your next blog. :-)

    Keep up the good work.

  • 3 years ago

    NM Fischwitsch

    Excellent commentary, John. We greatly appreciate your support of the Twin Ports Open. It is also worth noting that GM Alex Yermolinsky was unable to attend our event as his car was checkmated by a deer in route from South Dakota. GM Yermolinsky was scheduled to conduct a simultaneous exhibition, and in addition to your lecture responsibilities, you volunteered to conduct the simul for Yermo.

    Congratulations on earning a GM norm in St. Louis - it is refreshing to see someone as passionate and dedicated as yourself take a significant step forward in the professional chess world. Best of luck!!

  • 3 years ago

    NM Bab3s

  • 3 years ago

    NM Petrosianic

    nice blog.  thank you for sharing your comments, insights on your games in particular [position analyses i mean]. Innocent

  • 3 years ago


    Great job in the tournaments! Amazing that you got to play GM Wesley So! I'm a A player and I've only gotten to play NMs a few times.... :(

  • 3 years ago


    Nice post. Your maneuveur against Matt reminds me of 17. f5 from this USCL game you voted game of the week last season!

  • 3 years ago

    NM smarterchess

    Great blog post, John.  I especially liked the Chess Informant notes from you and Wesley.

  • 3 years ago


    "(because I just KNOW you're suffering severe withdrawals from the absence of my blogs! Smile )" nº of user was suffering a bigger downfall  that the markets in the 2008 crash 

  • 3 years ago


    very good Johnny B. ! :)

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