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Record Turnout for Metro Class Championship

A record 60 players showed up on Feb. 7 to compete for the championship of six different classes.

Last weekend’s beautiful weather encouraged a record number of participants to come play in the 7th Annual Metro Class championship -- a 60-player field divided into six rating sections. The winner of each class was guaranteed $250 and the title of class champion, but players were offered extra incentive to fight for a perfect 3/3 score for an additional $50 bonus.

There was no surprise to find IM Priyadharshan Kannappan (2554) – rated almost 300 points higher than his nearest opponent – on top of the Master/Expert Section with a perfect score of 3/3. But it wasn’t all clear sailing for “Priya,” who had to fight hard for his final-round win over FM Doug Eckert (2282) in a game highlighted by a rook-and-two-pawns versus a knight-and-bishop endgame. Kannappan’s knight pursued Eckert’s bishops around the board, but after those bishops found safe retreats, Kannappan’s knight found itself on a rather embarrassing square. Ultimately, however, time management got the best of Eckert, who blundered with less than a minute on his clock to allow Kannappan as the 2015 Metro Class Master/Expert Champion.

The Class A section turned out to be one of the most-exciting of the tournament. William Nesham (1961) was the only player to remain perfect after two rounds, but three other players stayed in the hunt with 1.5/2 -- including Todd Plagemann (1954). Where Nesham has a propensity for complicated and often wild positions, Plagemann looked to avoid the mess, pushing the game along with sound moves and slowly outplaying Nesham. The eventual victory earned Plagemann, who had not played a standard game since last year’s Metro Class Championship, the title of 2015 Class A Champion.

The Class B championship came down to the game between Ryan Deering (1731) and the section’s lowest-rated player, Jack Thain (1637), who came in from Charleston, IL to compete for the class championship. Thain was up two central pawns on the black side of an Advanced Caro-Kann gone awry, but Derring managed to drum up counterplay by opening the h-file and finding perpetual check. The final-round draw brought both players a title share of Class B Champion.

In Class C, the makings of another underdog story was underway in the last round as the section’s lowest-rated player, Sachin Laxman Milli (1400), competed against against Joseph Bean for the class title. Milli had a strong attack out of the opening, but Bean defused the attack by trading away lots of pieces. Later in the game, he found a tactic that capitalized off of a Milli blunder, and Bean went on to victory and the Class C title.

In Class D, two players – Scott Anderson (1317) and Christopher Shelton (1341) – each had two wins after two rounds, both needing a victory over the other to earn the class title. Shelton sacrificed a minor piece for two pawns with dubious compensation, though all of his pieces on active squares compelled Anderson to give back the material.  Shelton emerged victorious and won the title of Class D Champion.

In Class E, both female players in the section turned in an excellent performance to play on boards 1 and 2 in the final round. The highest-rated player in the section, Hannah Whatley (1183), won her third-round game to finish with 2.5/3, though she needed a draw from Board 1 to earn a share of the class title. There, both Yasin Hollis (1065) and 10-year-old Nigina Aripova (1126) each had two points and were pursuing the $50 bonus for remaining perfect. At one point, Aripova was faced with a seemingly hopeless position -- Hollis, with a passed a-pawn and a light squared bishop -- but Aripova demonstrated her knowledge of how to draw the position, shuffling her king back and forth on a1 and b1. The bishop was the wrong color to cover the queening square, and the draw left the Class E title shared by Hollis, Whatley and Aripova.

Come join us for our next mid-sized event, the Three’s Are Wild Tournament, with three sections, three rounds and three prizes for each section. Free entry for unrated players!