My thoughts on the 2014 St.Louis Club Championship

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I am writing this post to share my experiences about the 2014 CCSCSL Club Championship held at St.Louis from January 24-26. This tournament was a lot stronger than I expected, as my initial seeding was only 5th this year, compared to last year, where I was the top seed. There were 36 participants in this year's edition, including 4 GM, 1 IM, 1 FM, 1 WGM, and 1 WIM in this year's edition.The highlight of the tournament, was obviously the particpation of GrandMaster Georg Meier, whose fide elo is a staggering 2631 and also a student in Webster University.


Round one was a smooth sailing for the top seeds, as we were paired against players far lower rated than us; I played with black color against Julian Proleiko(USCF rating 1807) and scored a fairly easy win with my pet Bogo-Indian c5 system.


Things were not that smooth for the higer rated players in round two, as there were few upsets. The most notable upsets, were the loss of GM Manuel Leon Hoyos, to the 2013 St.Louis Club Champion Iskandar Aripov, and the miraculous draw by GM Denes Boros against Nick Karlow, in a clearly lost rook and pawn endgame. I was paired against my friend and fellow teammate Zach Stuart(USCF rating 2128). I made a horrible mistake in the opening, which went unnoticed by both sides, and then it was an intense game, in which I proved my superior understanding of endgame play to beat my opponent.

There were four players(Georg Meier,myself,Anna Sharevich,Iskandar Aripov) going into round 3, with a perect score of 2 points. I was paired against Aripov(USCF rating 2292), whereas Meier had to face Anna Sharevich. I think this round was the crucial one in determining the final standings, as Meier took a sole lead at the end of the 3rd round, to which he clinged till the end. I got a very good position out of opening with the black pieces against Aripov, but I wasn't able to convert my rook, double bishop, better pawn structure endgame against Aripov's Rook, knight, bishop, and a worse pawn structure position.On the top board, GM Meier, played with accuracy and precision to beat Anna in a drawish rook and opposite colored bishop endgame.
Meier had to face his teammate and fellow GM Denes Boros, in round 4, whereas I was paired against Spencer Finegold(USCF rating 2191). Meier played an awesome game with black pieces in his favorite dxe4 french, where he completely outplayed his opponent, to score a nice win. I had a really interesting game with Spencer, and this was the game, which I was most proud of in this tournament.

One of the most important upsets of the fourth round, was the win of Aripov over FM Konstantin Kavutskiy.

The standings before the final round was
1)Georg Meier 4/4
2-3)Priyadharshan, Aripov 3.5/4
4-7)Manuel Hoyos,Ben Finegold, Anna Sharevich, Inna Agrest 3/4

The final round pairings were Meier vs Priyadharshan, Aripov vs Ben Finegold, Manuel Hoyos vs Anna Sharevich, and Inna Agrest vs Denes Boros.

Meier took an extremely calculated risk of offering me a draw on move 6, though he knew that Aripov can catch him at 4.5, if he manages to beat Finegold. The draw offer was impossible to refuse, as I had the black pieces, and a rating difference of 200+ points, so I happily shook hands and signed the peace treaty. Ben had to struggle a bit before beating Aripov. Anna was clearly better against Hoyos, but Hoyos somehow managed to get a draw using all his grandmaster experience. The most beautiful game of the final round, was obviously the crushing win of Agrest over her teammate GM Boros.

The final standings were
1)GM Georg Meier 4.5/5
2-4)GM Ben Finegold, IM Priyadharshan Kannappan, WIM Inna Agrest 4/5
5-9)GM Manuel Hoyos, WGM Anna Sharevich, Iskandar Aripov, Doug Eckert, and Nick Karlow 3.5/5

Meier not only took 1000$ for his weekend effort, but also got his name engraved in the club championship cup, which is displayed throughout the year in the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St.Louis.

I couldn't have expected a better start than this for my 2014 chess schedule, and am also hoping to play some extremely strong tournaments this year. I am also really excited about the possibility of writing many more articles in in the near future Smile.