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Ben's Blog: Ale-Ale-Jandro!

[imagefield_assist|fid=3574|preset=frontpage_200x200|lightbox=true|title=Tatev Abrahamyan|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=200|height=200]"Don't call my name, Alejandro".....And thus ends the greatest
tournament of all time.

Oops, I guess I should start at the
beginning....2 score and 7 months ago a young whippersnapper, named Ben Finegold was
born in Detroit, MI.... oh wait, that is too far back.  As Rosanne
Rosana Dana would say, "Nevermind!"

The Bill Wright Saint Louis
Open was the shizzle, as the CCSCSL was proud to entertain the locals
with seven (!!!) GMs and five women coming back to Saint Louis from the
2009 U.S. Women's Championship!

With names like Nakamura, Hess,
Finegold, Ale-Ale-Jandro, Friedel, Gurevich, Amanov, Krush, Melekhina,
Abrahamyan, Zenyuk and Yun Fan, success was a certainty! Why do so many
players come to the CCSCSL for a weekend tournament?  I am glad you
asked!  Cause, WE RULE!  The best chess club in the world loves top
players, loves providing great amenities for the invited players, and
loves giving everyone a chance at beating the best of the best.

tournament had everything, and MORE!  Reigning U.S. Champion Hikaru
Nakamura was sure to be the heavy favorite.  But don't underestimate GMs
like 2009 U.S. Championship Runner-Up Robert Hess, Resident GM Ben Finegold, GM Josh
Friedel, and of course, the fan favorite (and mine) Alejandro Ramirez!

did the tournament start for the tournament favorites?  With a Saint
Louis Blues hockey game of course!  This was the last home game for
the great Keith Tkachuk, and the arena was full to capacity with adoring
fans! The Blues did not disappoint, and we rattled off 4 straight goals
to cruise to a 6-3 victory.  Betsy "The MotorBoat" Dynako and Tony "You
pay me" Rich joined many of the top players enjoying the game, and even
had a little side action on the "result" of....uh, nevermind!

hockey game was brilliant, but, was only a prelude to the "Disco on
Wheels" provided by a certain Saint Louis GM, giving a ride back to the
Chess Club to Hikaru, Betsy, Yun, and Alisa. GM at chess is easy, but
Super-GM at driving, well, that is special.

Also, for some reason,
there was chess played!  Hikaru requested that he be paired with all
women, but, the CCSCSL could not accomodate him every round, as he was
only able to play Jennifer Skidmore, Iryna Zenyuk, Tatev Abrahamyan, and
Alisa Melekhina!  Who was his second round male opponent?  None other
than USCF Executive Director Bill Hall!  Naka was nicked in round 3, as
he was lucky to draw Iryna in a nail biter of a game! Many of the
players had an easier time in round 3, taking a half-point bye instead
of playing three games in one day.

The most *interesting*
participant was CCSCSL founder Rex Sinquefield, who was able to play
four rated games in one event for the first time in over thirty years! 
Rex has been instrumental in making the Chess Club the world's best, and
he was able to experience all the joy of the Club first hand, and, on
the advice of "Bennifer" even played up in the Open section!  Rex of
course, was no match for Finegold in round 2.  Did I beat Rex?  Of
course not!  But, Finegold did win...... Spencer Finegold!  Spencer was a
giant killer this event, besting Rex, then going on a tear, beating two
experts and drawing NM Richard Benjamin in the last round to secure
=1st U2000, and gaining 50 USCF rating points in the process!  An
amazing achievement.

Things did not go so well for the elder
Finegold, as Alisaaaa Melkhinaaa was able to "grind out" a win against
yours truly, in a thrilling finish that left the spectators, and the
players spent!  I was Alisa's first GM victim, and she tried to make it a
double against Hikaru in round 5, but, Hikaru was too powerful and
attained a winning advantage out of the opening.

GM Robert Hess
beat GM Dmitry Gurevich in round 4 in a long difficult battle, before
settling for a perfunctory draw with everyone's favorite GM,
Ale-Ale-Jandro!  Ramirez was able to squeeze IM Irina Krush in an
accelerated Dragon, and from the black side! GM Josh Friedel was
somewhat fortunate in the first round, turning around a lost position
from a dubious opening, and eventually was able to beat Iryna Zenyuk in
round 4 in a sharp Dragon Sicilian before winning with black against
tough GM Mesgen Amanov.

Tatev Abrahamyan and Yun Fan did not have
their best tournaments, but, Tatev certainly won the best prize of the
event, a penguin-laden sweater from the Saint Louis Zoo.  Her "secret"
admirer sure came through....Yun Fan may have lost to yours truly in the
last round, but the yummy Gelato certainly made up for any positional
or tactical mistakes that may have occurred.

Iryna drew Superstar Nakamura in round 3 before losing with black
to Friedel.  Tough pairings to be sure!

The tournament ended up
with over 135 players and a four way tie for first with GMs Nakamura,
Hess, Ramirez, and Friedel.  A great time was had by all, and many will
be back next month for the U.S. Chess Championship held May 13-25, 2010!

USCF rating report can be found here:

This was the
best tournament ever, and the CCSCSL will keep up its good record with
more great events to come!

I will see all of you soon, and Lynne, I
will see you next week!  :)