The third and final summer scholastic tournament concluded this weekend with a surprisingly low number of upsets but left many players with heartache. Time trouble blunders and accidental stalemates were in abundance during the Back to School Bash, but the higher-rated opponent continually seemed to come out on top this month.
Arjun Puri, the winner of both the Summer Slam Bash and the Royal Rumble Bash, was not in attendance this weekend. Puri held the possibility of sweeping all three summer scholastic bashes, but his disappearance left the door wide open for a new contender to take home the first place trophy.
This was the second summer tournament Wilson Gao (1583) participated in. He achieved a perfect 4/4 score in the Royal Rumble Bash but lost the first place trophy in tiebreakers to Puri. Gao was determined to take home the trophy this week and expected to win all of his games again.
Gao entered the tournament with nearly 300 rating points higher than his closest competitor and was the only participant to finish with a clean 4/4 score. The Back to School Bash Champion played slow, methodical chess for the first three rounds: never losing control of the game and often being the last game of the round to finish.
Gao decided to change his strategy in the fourth round against Tanay Chandak (1288). Chandak went into a deep think when Gao boldly sacrificed a knight at g5 on move 8. The tournament favorite kept the pressure on Chandak by moving instantly and taking advantage of his opponent’s time trouble. Gao used only 6 minutes for the entirety of the game. The game was Chandak’s only loss of the day and he finished comfortably in third place.
Christopher Holley (759) also had a strong performance over the weekend. He finished with a score of 3/4 points. His upset win in the final round capped off an excellent day for “the boy with blue glasses.” He won the game with an excellent two-move tactic starting with 18. Bg7+, which set up a discovered check that won the Black queen.
The top female trophy went to Aspen Mechem (273). Mechem had an outstanding tournament and despite entering as the second lowest-rated player she finished with a score of 2/4. Her victories over players rated 661 and 547 demonstrate her phenomenal improvement as of late.
Come join us next Saturday, August 8, for a special day featuring two tournaments: The Blitz Bonanza and the Saint Louis Action Championship. Both promise great excitement for fans of blitz and quick-rated events.