St. Olaf, Twin Ports, Columbia

St. Olaf, Twin Ports, Columbia

IM Fins0905
Aug 26, 2012, 8:31 PM |

Wow, is fall already right around the corner? Summer seemed incredibly short, and I don't even have to worry about returning to school (unlike many of my students)!

I've had a really nice last month or so (pretty much non-stop chess), and below is a summary of what I've been up to.

July 22-17: St. Olaf OleChess Camp (Northfield, MN)

I mentioned in my previous post that I returned as an instructor at this annual camp in Northfield, MN. The camp positively exploded in size this year, and camp organizer FM Kevin Bachler expanded the teaching roster accordingly. Thus, in addition to Alex Onischuk, Yury Shulman, Irina Krush, Kevin, and myself, there was also GM Alex Yermolinsky and his wife, WGM Camilla Baginskaite. Truly a heck of a lineup!

In spite of the increased attendance, the week-long camp ended up going as smoothly as it did last year. Instructors rotated from group-to-group, so we had the chance to teach chess newcomers through seasoned USCF 2000+ players.

Here's a pic from one of my sessions with the top group. Astute readers will recognize the positions on-screen from my previous post (see the discussion in the comments). I divided the class in two, and had students play out the diagrammed positions at G/20. Afterwards, we recorded results, compared moves, and did a great deal of in-depth analysis. Highly interesting two games were alike!

There aren't too many high-level camps in the Midwest, so local chess enthusiasts are very appreciative of the OleChess Camp. I hope Kevin and St. Olaf run it for many years to come.

Aug 4-5: Twin Ports Open (Duluth, MN)

Duluth is located in northern Minnesota, right on Lake Superior. It's a beautiful place, and in the summer it's an extremely popular vacation spot for Minnestoans/Wisconsinites. Unfortunately for Duluthians, most of the chess action in our state takes place in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area, so they often have to drive at least 2.5 hours if they want to play a tournament.

But no more! Several months back, a few Duluth-area chess players came together and decided to organize a five-round Swiss in Duluth at the zenith of summer.

GREAT idea! The Twin Ports Open turned out to be a huge success, with 88 players taking part (the organizers originally didn't expect more than 40). The participation of a former US Champion, GM Alex Yermolinsky, was also secured. Pretty cool for a first-time event.

Alex and I ended up tying for first with 4.5/5. We drew a short but tense encounter in round four, and each won our games in the final round.

My most interesting game was the following:

View from the playing site, overlooking Lake Superior
The classic lake freighter William A. Irvinlaunched 1938
Chess and coffee: a winning combination!

My favorite shot of the trip. Duluth is absolutely gorgeous, and I'm lucky to have visited here many times since I was a kid.

Several guys worked hard to make the Twin Ports Open happen, especially Dane Mattson, Dane Zagar, and Iwu Okechukwu. Come play next next year!

Aug 17-19: Columbia Open (Columbia, SC)

Each year, the South Carolina Chess Association invites a titled player to tour the state's chess clubs for a week giving lectures and simuls. The trip is generously sponsored by SCCA President David Grimaud and Precision Tune Auto Care. Past invitees include GMs Lubomir Ftacnik and Alex Shabalov, and this year I was asked to come out. I flew in to Columbia, SC on a Monday, and spent the next four days visiting clubs in Columbia and Charleston, plus a trip to the Queen City Chess Club in Charlotte, NC.

Simply a fantastic week. I had never been to South Carolina, and the friendliness and hospitality of the chess players really impressed me. It turned out that Daniel Smith - a friend of mine who serves on the SCCA board - had the week off from work, so he drove me to all the events and took care of anything I needed.

In Columbia on Thursday night I took part in a cool event: a consultation match against the strongest South Carolina player, IM Alexander Matros (USCF 2468, FIDE 2442). Alex and I played a game from separate rooms with a runner relaying the moves. We each had an audience, and participation was highly encouraged! The game was wild and eventually adjourned due to lateness (albeit in a better position for Alex and his team!):

IM Alexander Matros and me

We concluded the week with the Columbia Open. I was fortunate to draw my first-round game with the talented North Carolina player Tianqi Wang, but I won my next four games to take clear first.

I managed to get the better of Matros in our tournament encounter:

Thanks again to David, Daniel, and the SCCA!

Final round at the Columbia Open
The Battery in Charleston, SC
My next tournament is the Noel Skelton Open in Minneapolis Sep. 1-2. Good luck to everyone playing chess over Labor Day Weekend.