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Regular CCSCSL Programming Continues During U.S. Championships; April Knights Registration Now Open

chess club scholastic center saint louis monthly knights tournament
After a two-year absence, Paul Mechem returned to the Monthly Knights tournament to win March with a perfect 4/4 score.

All of the CCSCSL’s regular weekly programming will stay current during the 2015 U.S. Championships, except for the Sunday afternoon kids classes. That means another installment of our Monthly Knights tournament, which pairs players with one game a week every Wednesday evening for a Swiss tournament that lasts the whole month long! Beginning this Wednesday, April 1 at 7:00 p.m., the April Knights tournament features a bonus round of chess – five Wednesdays in April and five rounds of Swiss action.

Some new faces showed up to play in the Monthly Knights tournament in March: Two new members played their first-ever tournament games in our four-round, month-long Swiss, and a player we haven’t seen in a while swept March’s field with a perfect 4/4 score. Paul Mechem (2000) returned after a nearly two-year absence from tournament chess with a very strong performance.

In the first round, Mechem played the Colle and achieved the typical slight advantage afforded to the player with White. The game went downhill quickly, however, when his first round opponent – Scott Anderson (1326) — mistakenly released the tension in the center by closing the queenside, preventing himself from generating any counter-play. Mechem’s attack on the kingside proved too strong for Anderson to handle, and the game ended in 22 moves.

Mechem faced Ben Boaz (1625) in week two. Boaz, our January Knights champion, has gained more than 300 rating points in the last year and came into March having gained rating points in an impressive 10 tournaments in a row.  In round two, Boaz came out of the opening with a small advantage thanks to Mechem’s isolated queen’s pawn that was blocking his bishop on b7. Boaz missed the strategic opportunity to blockade the isolated pawn by bringing a knight to d4, allowing Mechem to play d4 himself and rid himself of the weak pawn. The resulting endgame was balanced until Boaz eventually lost a pawn, an exchange and then the game in a short sequence of moves.

The round three matchup paired Mechem with another player who has gained a lot of rating points lately – Jonathan Orsay (1677). Orsay, who just this year returned to tournament play after a nine-year hiatus, recently earned first place in the U1700 Section of the prestigious Mid-America Open, as well as picking up 85 rating points. In the third round game, Orsay had a chance to be slightly better with the Black pieces by giving Mechem an isolated queen’s pawn that would be nicely blockaded by a knight, but instead Orsay fell apart tactically early in the middle game.  The game lasted only 21 moves.

In the fourth round, Mechem faced the February Knights champion Daniel Coryea (1800). Coryea had 2.5/3 points coming into March’s last round and needed a win to secure first place. The game stayed fairly balanced throughout and unfortunately had an anticlimactic finish. Mechem attacked Coryea’s knight on g4 with the move h3 and then, on the next move, he simply took the piece -- and a piece up was enough for Mechem to convert into a win. 

“I didn’t even realize I was down a piece until five moves later,” Coryea admitted after the game.

Orsay took clear second place with 3/4 points, demonstrating demonstrated his ability to play sharp, tactical positions in the first round against Ben Shoykhet (1198). The game below is annotated by FM Aviv Friedman.


There was a five-way tie for third place: Ben Boaz, Kyle Neese, Daniel Coryea, Neil Schechter, and Manny Presicci all finished with 2.5/3 points.

April has five Wednesdays, so now is the best time to come out and join us for more exciting chess action. The first round begins April 1st and all participants receive free grandmaster analysis for each of their Knights games.