[imagefield_assist|fid=1719|preset=frontpage_200x200|lightbox=true|title=|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=200|height=200]The December Knights saw a familiar face sweep the field as Paul Mechem took first in the last Knights event of 2009.
The 5.0/5.0 perfomance puts him just eight points shy of his goal of becoming an expert. Mechem had previously qualified for the 2010 Club Championship by winning the June Knights. Therefore, the second place finisher for this Knight's event was lined up to grab the invitational spot.
Going into round four, tournament director Mike Kummer (1703) and Alex Vergilesov (1650) were the only competitors with a score of 2.0/3.0, and they faced off in what was essentially an elimation match. If Vergilesov won, he would at least grab a share of second place because of a pending round five half-point bye.
When the three-hour game of wits was done, Kummer was left standing with a 3.0/4.0 score. A podcast of the match will be available on saintlouischessclub.org this month.
In round five, Mike Kummer played the rapidly improving William Tong (1907). Because of a first-round, half-point bye and a loss to the Champ, he stood at 2.5/4.0 and needed to beat Kummer to claim the Championship spot. Kummer played for a draw and got it when he forced a queen trade, which caused William to have minimal chances in the endgame. With the draw, Kummer qualified for the club championship and will join Richard Benjamin (2200), Ken Thomas (2058), Paul Mechem (1988), Paul Goddard (1813), Dan Coryea (1809), William Nesham (1694), Josh Frank (2040) in the Club Championship in March. There are still two spots available. The next chance to qualify will be at the January Knights.
Please note that for the Knights tourneys in 2010 registration starts at 5:30 and the games begin prompty at 6:30, a half hour earlier than in 2009.