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National Chess Day: Experts Tie with Grandmaster

By Dennis LaRue

In 1976, President Gerald Ford declared the second Saturday of October to be National Chess Day.  On Saturday, October 8, the Chess Club hosted the 2016 National Chess Day G/65 Championship to celebrate the holiday with a four round tournament.   The event used classical time controls and offered a first and second place prize of $150 and $125 respectively, as well as first place prizes of $100 for the top finishers in each of the four classes(A,B,C,D)There was also a $100 prize for U1200/UNR and a biggest upset prize of $25..  This year’s tournament was a small event full of memorable games and exciting chess for the field of twenty-six.  


Resident Grandmaster Ben Finegold, the clear favorite to take first, jokingly said “not good” when asked how he felt about his chances to win the tournament; although, he was referring to the fact that his travel plans prevented him from playing in the final round, requiring him to claim a half-point bye in round four.  Considering GM Ben Finegold was the only titled player competing, and approximately 500 rating points stronger than the second and third place seeds, it was unlikely that anyone would stop him from claiming the $150 first prize.  


While it is true that no one was able to secure a win, or even a draw against the GM, longtime members Paul Mechem(2010), and Alex Marler(2125) each managed to accrue the three and a half points needed to tie with the Grandmaster for first place.  Other notable results included Aaron Lin’s(1185) first place finish in the under 1200/Unrated section, which he accomplished with a final score of three points.  The talented eight year old Lin’s only loss was to GM Finegold in round one. Lin’s overall performance, however, was highlighted by a third round upset over Stephen Whyte(1544) which helped boost the youngster’s rating significantly from 1185 to 1326. Club regulars Keith Bass(1218) and Orlando Pardo Lazo(1366) tied for first place in the under 1400(D) class with two and a half points each.  The under 1600(C) section was won by Sean Malone(1418).  Wins for Malone in rounds one and four against Jason Woolem(712) and Ken West(1200) respectively, a draw in round three against Keith Bass(1218), and a second round bye earned him the three points he needed to clench the C class first place prize.  The field was remarkably void of B class players, leaving only the A class prize up for grabs.  Al Howlett(1856) rose to the occasion by winning his first and third round games, drawing round two against Keith Bass, and claiming the bye in round four, earning the three points necessary for first place in the under 2000(A) section.


Congratulations to the winners, and many thanks to all of the participants.  The next batch of tournaments is quickly approaching so make sure to register for your chance to win. Spooky Quads is on Saturday, October 22 and will be a three round G/75;d5 with a $15 entry fee.  The 8th Annual Thanksgiving Open, a G/90 + 30 sec increment FIDE rated tournament with a $10,000 prize fund and $80 entry fee($100 after 11/22), will be held November 25-27. For all these tournament, register at