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Amateur & Premiere Tournament Brings Many Success

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The Saint Louis Amateur and Premier Tournament drew a crowd of 35 players this year. The tournament was split into two sections: Under 1800 (Amateur) and 1800 and over (Premier). A $1,600 unconditionally guaranteed prize fund was awarded to the top five finishers in each section.

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Alex Marler, rated 2141, won the Premier section with an undefeated score of 3.5/4. Marler entered the tournament with a first round half-point bye then won his three subsequent games. His post-tournament rating of 2167 puts him only 33 points away from earning the title of National Master – a goal Marler is committed to achieving.

His toughest victory came in round three verse the tournament’s highest-rated player – FM Doug Eckert (2286). Eckert was much better out of the opening and achieved a winning position for majority of the game but mutual time trouble left the door open for Marler to turn the game around. Marler had a passed d-pawn that proved difficult to corral and ultimately won the game when it reached the end of the board and promoted to a queen.

Marler played a smooth attacking game in the final round against Adil Skuka (2023). The game started to go downhill for Skuka after the move 13. … Bd7, which only encouraged White to play the move d5. Black’s compromised pawn structure and weakness around the king made it easy for White to launch a successful attack. The game is shown below:

chess, club, tournament, swiss, july, amateur, premiere, saint louisThere was a three way tie for first in the Amateur section between William Little (1759), Darian Turner (1719), and Aleksey Kazakevich (1737). Little and Turner were the only two with a perfect score heading into the last round, but a draw by perpetual check left three players with 3.5/4 points in the end.

The biggest upset of the day was Merrick Zheng’s (826) round one victory over Scott Anderson (1524). Anderson fell victim to a Greek Gift sacrifice after 12. … Bxh2+. Anderson should have bravely accepted the gift; but, with the knight and queen quickly coming in for an attack, he spurned White’s offer with 13. Kh1. Black correctly sacrificed another piece in dramatic fashion with 14. … Ng4!, which quickly lead to a mating attack.

Eric Hoffner (1535) played a very pretty combination in the final round to tie for third with three other players with a score of 3/4 points. The move 12. … Nbc6 looked like a very natural move until Black was stunned by the sacrificial 13. Ndb5! The threat of a knight coming to d6 was too powerful to stop and White won in very convincing fashion as seen below:

Our next major event is the Saint Louis Millionaire Satellite Tournament on August 15-16. The winner will receive free entry to Millionaire Chess in Vegas ($1,500 value) and an additional $500 to cover some of the traveling expenses. Don’t miss your chance to take part in this fantastic tournament! You can register here.