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Bill Wright Saint Louis Open: 5-way tie in the Open Section and Youngster Ye Wins U2000 Section

Photos by Austin Fuller

By Isaac Schrantz


The 2017 edition of the Bill Wright Saint Louis Open shows the continued growth of chess in Saint Louis. The open section had a total of 22 participants, 36 being titled, which included 6 GM’s and 2 WGM’s. Although this year’s field wasn’t the largest we’ve ever had, it certainly was one of the most densely talented.


With such a competitive field, it came as no surprise to see the top of the leaderboard tightly packed. GM Hedinn Steingrimsson (2621) went into the fifth and final round as the clear leader with 3.5 points, but he was unable to secure a win with the black pieces and drew GM Priyadharshan Kannappan (2601). This gave six other players the chance to catch GM Steingrimsson with a victory. Out of those six, four were up to the task and we were left with a 5-way tie for first place. Winners were GM Yaro Zherebukh (2685), IM Cemil Can Ali Marandi (2561), GM Hedinn Steingrimsson, GM Fidel Corrales Jimenez (2628), and FM Joshua Colas (2428). Each walked away with an $850 prize.


Performing well and winning a $400 share of the U2300 prize with 3 points each were some familiar faces: Tom Polgar-Shultzman (2127), NM Jim McLaughlin (2103), WCM Thalia Cervantes (2182), and the dark horse of the tournament, Caleb Denby (2033). Denby had the over performance of the tournament, playing well against two members of the U.S. Women’s Championship field, defeating WGM Katerina Nemcova (2427) and drawing WGM Anna Sharevich (2354).

In the U2000 section of the tournament, Luke Ye (1861) ran away with the lead and Merrick Zheng (1407) played spoiler to those hoping to catch Ye. Luke Ye finished with a perfect 5 points and a $1000 prize. I am sure that money will go toward training and travel as Luke continues to grow as a young player of only 9 years old. Merrick Zheng’s surprise victories against Al Howlett (1854) in round 1 and Benjamin Shoykhet (1894) in round 5 propelled Zheng into clear second place and a $600 prize. Winning the U1800 prize of $500 was Jonathan Gollapudi (1782) with 4 points, and winning the U1600 prize of $400 was Nicholas Geannopoulos (1595) with 3.5 points.


As chess continues to grow in Saint Louis and the Chess Club and Scholastic Center attracts more and more GMs, we look forward to seeing what is in store next year at the 2018 Bill Wright Saint Louis Open.