Despite soaring gas prizes and hot temperatures, the annual 4th of July tournament attracted a solid turnout of 84 players to California's capital city. Perhaps attracted by a quality tournament at longer time controls, adult players came from all over Northern California and as far away as Washington state; in fact, only about 1/3 of the participants were juniors. The field was officially split up into two sections, Open and Reserve (U2000), but a majority of A players chose to play for experience in the Open section.
Eight masters entered the tournament, headlined by International Masters Ricardo DeGuzman and Walter Shipman. In the end, Sacramento native and Stanford University sophomore NM Daniel Schwarz (2249) dominated the competition in the Open section, taking clear 1st place with a 5.0/6 score. He did not get easy pairings, instead facing five straight masters and beating three of them for a 2546 performance rating! Daniel even defeated defending champion and top rated IM DeGuzman in the 5th round. Proving that he has come a long ways since his days as a scholastic champion, Daniel beat his first teacher NM Zoran Lazetich and earned a tense final round draw with the black pieces against yours truly, his coach for over a half dozen years. Congratulations Daniel!
Four players shared 2nd place and top U2200 honors at 4.5 in the Open section: IMs Ricardo DeGuzman and Walter Shipman, expert James al-Shamma and the fpawn. Your reporter drew a short game against DeGuzman, but was unable to win lengthy endgames against NM Viktors Pupols from Washington state and Schwarz on the final day. Other than Schwarz, the biggest story of the weekend must be the impressive result by my student 11 year old Yian Liou (1956), who defeated former master Kenneth Hills (2120) and drew with FM Bela Evans (2303). Yian ended up with 4.0/6 after losing just once (to his teacher), thus gaining tons of experience and bumping his rating up to 1987.
Kudos to Douglas Legvold (1934) for winning the 53 player Reserve (U2000) section with 5.5 out of 6, drawing only in the last round to clinch 1st place. Sacramento club member Romeo Pilar, rated just 1652, took clear 2nd place at 5.0 while juniors Arun Gomatan (1795) and Ted Xiao (1731) shared 3rd place at 4.5.
Finally, thanks to National TD John McCumiskey (wearing red, white and blue for the holiday) for once again directing a smooth and enjoyable weekend tournament in Sacramento. He has run every single major chess event in town since the mid 1990s and since established himself as the top director in Northern California. This year, there were actually two McCumiskey's present at the tournament, as John's younger brother Tom (see photo here) visited from Virginia and played in the Open section.