San Francisco Bay Area native IM Vinay Bhat (see photo at left) has advanced to the semifinal stage of the 2008 US State Champion of Champions tournament. The winner of this online tournament, hosted by ICC's sister service World Chess Live, will qualify for the US Championship next month.
In today's 5 1 blitz action, Vinay impressively won the Western Conference of the double round-robin qualifier with 12.5 out of 14, ahead of opponents including IM Sandor Kustar (South Dakota) and IM Levon Altounian (Arizona). IM Enrico Sevillano (10.5/14) from Southern California took second place and also advanced to the semifinals. The Eastern Conference was won by IM David Vigorito (17.0/18), now living in Massachusetts, while Florida wunderkind IM-elect Ray Robson (13.5/18) took second (see photo at right), narrowly ahead of FM Kazim Gulamali of Georgia.
The road to Tulsa continues on Friday at 12noon Pacific time with a pair of two game matches at the time control of 60 3. The West features Bhat vs Sevillano; the East has Vigorito vs Robson. The winners meet on Saturday, again beginning at 12noon PDT. No doubt this will be a barn-burner, so tune into WCL! Note: All USCF members get six months free membership to World Chess Live as part of a marketing agreement.