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GM Ramirez Defends the Saint Louis Open!

GM, grandmaster, alejandro, ramirez, saint louis, chess, club, open, bill, wright

By Alejandro Ramirez

Every tournament has its favorites. Even in tournaments as strong as the 2015 U.S. Chess Championship -- where each of its 12 participants were grandmasters -- there were clearly a few standouts who seemed more likely to take the throne. This was also the case at the Saint Louis Open on April 17-19 – but as with every good tournament, there were many, many surprises from the get go. 

I was the first to suffer an upset, drawing with the white pieces in the first round against NM Nick Karlow. After obtaining a winning position, I played on to somehow miss everything, and my opponent got the better of me. He uncorked the following pretty combination on me:

GM Alejandro Ramirez v. Nick Karlow // Annotation by GM Alejandro Ramirez


My opponent inexplicably offered me a draw in a winning position for Black, or at least a position that would have been nearly impossible for him to lose. The decision was probably made through the combination of time pressure, the exhausting match -- and perhaps a bit of awe of my rating. Lucky me in the first round...

The other grandmasters had no trouble in Round 1, though things were much different in the next round. Both Fidel Corrales Jimenez and Ioan-Cristian Chirila lost their second round games -- a big upset for both! The loss caused the Cuban-American to withdraw, while the Romanian grandmaster played on to power through his defeat.

Only IM Jayaram Ashwin was able to keep a perfect score after three rounds thanks to GM Vladimir Georgiev, who seemed to enjoy a crushing position from an exchange Slav though could only manage a draw against FM Tansel Turgut. My third round match was a fun one played as black against NM Pete Karagianis, who had a great tournament overall, though he sacrificed all his pieces against me for an attack that just didn't work out. The second consecutive victory pulled me to 2.5/3.

Round four was key. Georgiev was better against Ashwin, though he botched the game into a draw (and narrowly avoided the loss!). With my round four victory, I finally caught up with Ashwin for the lead, with a few people trailing us a half-point behind. Two rounds a day aren’t easy, and a quick draw between us in the final round finished the exhausting event with a guaranteed share of first. 

It left the fifth-round matches between Georgiev-Karlow and Priyadarshan-Gopal as the only boards where a player could catch up in the standings. Georgiev came away the only victor, tying with Ashwin and me for first place.

There are many things to learn from each tournament. At the Saint Louis Open: Never underestimate your opponent, never give up and always enjoy the event – even if things don't start off well, it doesn't mean they won't end well! This rings true for both me and Chirila, who pushed through his second round loss, to finish strong and claim a nice $550 prize. Better than nothing!


SwissSys Standings. Bill Wright Saint Louis Open: Open Section

# Name Rtng Rd 1 Rd 2 Rd 3 Rd 4 Rd 5 Tot Prize
1 IM Ashwin Jayaram 2552 W15 W14 W4 D3 D2 4 1533.33
2 GM Alejandro Ramirez 2675 D9 W21 W11 W8 D1 4 1533.33
3 GM Vladimir Georgiev 2598 W29 W13 D8 D1 W9 4 1533.33
4 NM Gopal Menon 2346 W26 W7 L1 W12 D5 3.5 550
5 IM Priyadharshan Kannappan 2563 W24 D10 D9 W11 D4 3.5 550
6 Joey Michael Kelly 2101 H--- D12 D23 W15 W13 3.5 600
7 GM Ioan Cristian Chirila 2633 W20 L4 W10 D13 W14 3.5 550
8 FM Tansel Turgut 2365 W17 W16 D3 L2 D10 3  
9 NM Nick W Karlow 2225 D2 W28 D5 W23 L3 3 162.5
10 NM Nolan Hendrickson 2242 W25 D5 L7 W17 D8 3 162.5
11 NM Petros Demetrios Karagianis 2284 W19 W27 L2 L5 W20 3 162.50/Upset1
12 NM Alex Richter 2273 D18 D6 W22 L4 W19 3 162.5
13 FM Doug D Eckert 2294 W22 L3 W19 D7 L6 2.5  
14 Alex J Marler 2116 W31 L1 D16 W24 L7 2.5  
15 Tom Polgar-shutzman 2133 L1 D26 W18 L6 W25 2.5  
16 William Daniel Kane 2004 W30 L8 D14 L20 W24 2.5 275
17 Tim C Steiner 2108 L8 D30 W26 L10 W23 2.5  
18 Julian Proleiko 2001 D12 L23 L15 B--- W26 2.5 275
19 Aydin Turgut 2042 L11 B--- L13 W22 L12 2  
20 Claudio Abud 2224 L7 H--- H--- W16 L11 2  
21 Mario Roper 941 B--- L2 L24 H--- H--- 2  
22 Tianlu Peng 2097 L13 W29 L12 L19 B--- 2  
23 NM Spencer Finegold 2197 L27 W18 D6 L9 L17 1.5  
24 Vijay Raghavan 2169 L5 D25 W21 L14 L16 1.5  
25 Serdar Aykent 1866 L10 D24 H--- D26 L15 1.5  
26 James McLaughlin 2100 L4 D15 L17 D25 L18 1  
27 GM Fidel Corrales Jimenez 2596 W23 L11 U--- U--- U--- 1  
28 James Lung 2023 H--- L9 D29 U--- U--- 1  
29 NM Nicholas Rosenthal 2215 L3 L22 D28 U--- U--- 0.5  
30 NM Matthew Larson 2276 L16 D17 U--- U--- U--- 0.5  
31 IM Angelo Young 2426 L14 U--- U--- U--- U--- 0  


SwissSys Standings. Bill Wright Saint Louis Open: U2000 Section

# Name Rtng Rd 1 Rd 2 Rd 3 Rd 4 Rd 5 Tot Prize
1 Adil Skuka 1993 W30 W11 W9 W19 D2 4.5 1000
2 Leo Poppante 1828 W41 W3 D7 W6 D1 4 475
3 Selden Trimble 1943 W24 L2 W14 W17 W15 4 475
4 Alex J Stiger 1745 W18 L19 W13 W9 D5 3.5 500
5 Albert Damont Howlett 1876 W31 W13 D19 D12 D4 3.5 66.67
6 Behrooz Vakil 1860 H--- W33 W23 L2 W20 3.5 66.67
7 Karthikeyan Pounraj 1990 H--- W39 D2 D10 W12 3.5 66.67
8 Harper Evan Smith 1930 W27 D10 W22 H--- H--- 3.5  
9 Steven D Bange 1903 W21 W17 L1 L4 W24 3  
10 Paul J Goddard 1828 W35 D8 D20 D7 D11 3  
11 Jason Joseph Clark 1839 W38 L1 W27 D20 D10 3  
12 Jeffrey Schragin 1864 W32 D20 W29 D5 L7 3  
13 Scott M Anderson 1397 W42 L5 L4 W25 W29 3 300
14 James Ivy 1543 L19 W32 L3 W31 W26 3 300
15 Nicholas Naylor 1874 L20 W38 W24 W28 L3 3  
16 Alexander James Cheung 1775 D25 W34 D28 H--- H--- 3 250
17 Caleb S Denby 1837 X44 L9 W18 L3 W27 3  
18 Peter Krasucki 1063 L4 W21 L17 W34 W28 3 300
19 Robert S Taras 1947 W14 W4 D5 L1 U--- 2.5  
20 Dylan Mize 1235 W15 D12 D10 D11 L6 2.5 150.00/Upset1
21 Ethan Bui 1502 L9 L18 W36 W35 D22 2.5  
22 Bob Howe 1727 W26 H--- L8 D29 D21 2.5  
23 Timothy Lung 1757 H--- W25 L6 W26 U--- 2.5  
24 Adonis Reddick 1538 L3 W41 L15 W33 L9 2  
25 Matthew Raymond Manley 1086 D16 L23 D30 L13 W38 2  
26 Jr Banks 1056 L22 W31 W39 L23 L14 2  
27 Adam B Eubanks 1527 L8 W35 L11 W32 L17 2  
28 Ishaar Perumal Ganesan 1697 H--- W42 D16 L15 L18 2  
29 Dennis Taylor 1699 H--- W36 L12 D22 L13 2  
30 Marek W Ziolkowski 1594 L1 H--- D25 H--- D33 2  
31 Sean A Malone 1358 L5 L26 X44 L14 W35 2  
32 Tung T Bui 1214 L12 L14 X41 L27 W36 2  
33 Joseph Michael Bean 1605 H--- L6 W34 L24 D30 2  
34 Shahrooq Fatemi 1089 H--- L16 L33 L18 B--- 1.5  
35 Benjamin Effron Shoykhet 1143 L10 L27 W38 L21 L31 1  
36 Robert Beekman 804 D39 L29 L21 H--- L32 1  
37 Kyle Neese 1305 U--- U--- W43 U--- U--- 1  
38 Ken West 1200 L11 L15 L35 W43 L25 1  
39 Akshay Srinivasan 1649 D36 L7 L26 U--- U--- 0.5  
40 Mark Kende 1880 H--- U--- U--- U--- U--- 0.5  
41 Tony E Teson 1184 L2 L24 F32 U--- U--- 0  
42 Micah Losee 1901 L13 L28 U--- U--- U--- 0  
43 James L Richards unr. U--- U--- L37 L38 U--- 0  
44 Randall K Julian Jr 1190 F17 U--- F31 U--- U--- 0  


SwissSys Standings. Bill Wright Saint Louis Open: Extra

# Name Rtng Rd Tot Prize
1 Kyle Neese 1305 W2 1 1000
2 Shahrooq Fatemi 1089 L1 0 600