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Big Turnout, New Faces in 2017 Thanksgiving Open

Thanksgiving Open
Photos by Perry Colson.

By Jonathan Schrantz


On Thanksgiving weekend, a total 114 players (including seven Grandmasters) came to the Saint Louis Chess Club to compete for their share of $10,000. There were a lot of new faces in the Chess Club and lot of excitement in both sections (Open and U2000).


There was a tie for first in the Open Section between GM Alex Shimanov and FM Zhaozhi Li who each finished with 5 points after 6 rounds. The biggest surprise of the tournament was FM Zhaozhi Li’s (2471) fourth round upset against the highest rated player in the field, Vasif Durarbayli (2711). It was a beautiful game in which White sacrificed an exchange in the opening to obtain a very pleasant position.



The winner of the U2000 Section was Merrick Zheng (1718), who picked up nearly 100 rating points after finishing with 5.5 out of 6 points. Michael Takahashi (1943) and Eddison Chen (1842) tied for second place with 5 out of 6 points.


The biggest upset of the tournament came in round one when Nicholas Risko (568) defeated CJ Armenta (1518) in a 21 move miniature. Nicholas found a nice combination after Black blundered with 18. … d5?


When asked about his performance against a much higher-rated opponent Nicholas replied, “I always say ‘Rating is just a number’. It feels good to show you’re better than the number.”

Thanks to everybody that came out this weekend to compete in this year’s Thanksgiving Open. Our next monthly tournament will be the Holiday Bash on December 16 with three sections (Open, U1800, U1400). Game in 65 minutes with a 5 second delay. Entry fee: $25 ($20 for annual members of the Club if registered by 12/15).