Saturday, April 19

Saturday Recap: WCL Qualifier and HS Nationals

(Dachshund races are one of the most popular events at the annual UC Davis Picnic Day.)

I actually spent much of today outdoors, away from my computer and chess. Today was the annual Picnic Day celebration at UC Davis, which gave me an excuse to visit my alma mater. The gorgeous weather made the day a perfect 10. Despite my absence, there was still plenty of chess action around the country. Unfortunately, the results were somewhat disappointing for the home team.

The semifinals of the online qualifier to the 2008 Frank K. Berry US Championship took place on ICC's sister server World Chess Live. The field was impressive: IM Vinay Bhat vs IM Enrico Sevillano and IM David Vigorito vs IM-elect Ray Robson. According to a poll on this blog, Bhat was favored to win by slightly over half of the voters while Sevillano and Robson split most of the remaining votes. I predicted a final match of Bhat against Robson.

To my surprise, both of the favorites lost by 2-0 scores! Bhat lost an important central pawn in the first game with white, but managed to rebound with a strong attack in the second game. However, he became dangerously short of time and, with merely 8 seconds left (plus a 3 second increment), committed a fatal blunder. In the other match, veteran Vigorito schooled 13 year old Robson with a prepared line in the ultra-sharp Botvinnik variation and then held on in the second game. Congratulations to IM Enrico Sevillano of Southern California and IM David Vigorito of Massachusetts for advancing to the final, scheduled for noon PDT on Sunday at World Chess Live.

Update on Sunday afternoon: IM David Vigorito won the online qualifier and advanced to the US Championship in Tulsa next month! He won a wild first game of the final with black and then calmly drew with white to clinch the match. Congratulations and good luck!

I wish I had better news to report from the National High School Championship in Atlanta, but I do not. In fact, while writing this blog entry, I listened to my friend and fellow coach FM Robby Adamson (BLITZMASTER on ICC) rant about the poor performance by his team from Catalina Foothills High School (Tucson, Arizona). The upset bug has bitten many of the top players at the tournament, including top rated FM Marc Tyler Arnold (2419) who drew with Christian Tanaka (2126) from Southern California. Only three players remain with a perfect 5-0 score: FM Daniel Yeager (2347), Edward Lu (2194) and Michael Thaler (2152). Who will win? Watch the action live on MonRoi website.

Here are the scores from Northern California. Mukund Chillakanti remains the lone bright spot with an impressive performance, especially considering the strength of opposition that he faced. All the best in the final two games on Sunday!
  • Steven Zierk (2154) has an undefeated 3.5, but three draws against A players.
  • Mukund Chillakanti (1868) also has 3.5, including 2.5 against four experts!
  • Kenneth Law (1664) has 2.5
  • Kartik Chillakanti (1706) has 2.0
Update on Sunday morning: Steven and Kartik both won in round 6 while Mukund and Ken drew. Mukund faces yet another expert in the final round, having already scored a stunning 3.0 out of 5 against opponents rated over 2000. Woohoo! On the stage, Michael Thaler upset top ranked FM Marc Tyler Arnold and will face FM Daniel Yeager for the title. My friend FM Robby Adamson is also happier now; his team is back in the lead.

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