In a bold move, BayAreaChess.com chief organizer Dr. Salman Azhar reinvented the annual Thanksgiving weekend tournament into something bigger, stronger and more prestigious. The advertised prize fund of more than $8000 (based on 166 entries) exceeds what any local organizer has offered since the failed Firecracker Open in 2001. The event takes place at the plush Hyatt Regency Santa Clara, across the street from the Great America theme park. Veteran players may remember this hotel as the venue of the CalChess Scholastics for many years in the 1990s and early 2000s.
To my surprise, the CalChess Board designated this untested event as Northern California State Open & Class Championship. At first, it seemed strange to me to quietly move our state championship from the traditional Labor Day weekend to an untested date. Moreover, chess enthusiasts from Southern California and other western states will undoubtedly continue to attend the 45th annual American Open in Los Angeles. I even heard of a few local players traveling to LA for the larger prizes and stronger competition.
However, I am impressed by the number of advance entries so far. Already 110 participants have registered for the 3-day and 2-day schedules (not including another 50 in the 1-day scholastic side event). I project a final turnout near the "based on" number of 166, or roughly on par with this year's Labor Day festival. Not bad at all for the first year! The Master section already appears respectably strong with five International Masters, including 2008 State Champion IM Sam Shankland, plus another seven masters (three age 16 or younger).
- Event: CalChess Open State & Class Championship
- Date: November 27-29 (3-day) or November 28-29 (2-day)
- Location: Hyatt Regency at Santa Clara Convention Center, 5105 Great America Parkway (across street from Great America water park)
- Format: 6 round swiss in 6 sections (Open, Expert, A, B, C and D/E).
- 3-day schedule: Reg: Fri 10-10:30. Rds: Fri 11, 5:15; Sat 11, 5:15; Sun 10, 4:15.
- 2-day schedule: Reg: Sat 9-9:30. Rds: Sat 10, 12:15, 2:30, 5:15; Sun 10, 4:15.
- Time control: 40/2, G/1 except G/60 for rounds 1-3 of 2-day schedule.
- Entry fee: $90 for 3-day, $84 for 2-day by Sunday 11/22; $20 more on-site.
- Other fees: play up one section for $19, re-enter into 2-day schedule for $39.
- Prize fund: $8100 based on 166 players, including $1000 guaranteed for 1st place in Master section and $500 for 1st place in lower sections ($300 for D/E).
- Tournament flyer
- Orientation page
- Advance entry list