GM Timur Gareyev wins American Chess Open 2014
The 274 players (plus five reentries) enjoyed eight rounds of chess in the comfortable ballroom, a welcome change from the last two years when the scholastic tournament preempted the prime space. That event was switched to the previous weekend, drawing 342 juniors. In the 43-player Open section, GM Timur Gareyev of Las Vegas again came out on top, scoring 7-1 to lap the field by a point. (Last year GM Mac Molner, who didn't play this time, tied for first.) The strong field included four GMs and four IMs.
The Under 2200 prize was split by two players with 6½. Young WFM Agata Bykovtsev is an experienced international player, and her rating reached...2199. Her dedicated mother Rita has endured many three hour drives back to Santa Barbara, but a nice prize check must have made this one sweeter. The other 6 ½ pointer, Kenneth Odeh, actually won five games and drew one, but had to take two byes the last day because of his aviation job.
In Under 2000 (the largest, with 63 players), young Derek Zhang of Washington State downed former master Brian Zavodnik in the last round to take clear first. Derek tied for Under 1800 two years ago – we like to see progress!
Two local players, James Williams and young Cory Chen, tallied 6½ to split Under 1800 laurels. Locals also prevailed with 6½ in Under 1600, as Jesus Barraza and Pio Reyes tied for first. The Under 1400 went better for visitors, with Ricardo Lara Jr. of Arizona and Varun Kumar of Washington State joining local Leo De Vera at – you guessed it – 6½. It's a rare year when none of the class winners equals the Open champion's score!
The teams that tied Abrahamyan/Shlyakhtenko for Mixed Doubles were siblings Queena and Tim Deng (whose parents, Ben Deng and Sarah Lu, are leading local coaches) and Gabriel Sam and Kaitlyn Chu. Panopio took the 49 player Blitz ahead of Gareyev, and Laylo partially redeemed himself by tying with local master Eduardo Ortiz in the 26 player Action (hardly the only dropout from the main event to participate).
The Chess Palace crew (aka the Ong family: seven present, though two had to return to their college studies Sunday night) kept a variety of plates spinning in the air – pairings, presence on the playing floor, coordinating the videos and lectures (IM Jeremy Silman was the great hit as usual), selling books and merchandise, and handing out a variety of gifts to celebrate the 50th anniversary. Almost $27,000 was paid out in prizes, all plus scores got gift certificates, and place winners received medals as well as moola. Several players received special recognition, including 92-year-old Dave Hartman and Dr. Leo Raterman, the only participant who took part in the inaugural tournament in 1965.
From Alexandra Kosteniuk's
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