Wednesday, September 2

Labor Day Festival in San Francisco

Check out the advance entry list, updated through Tuesday night. A total of 106 players have signed up so far. Have you? At first glance, the Master section appears unusually weak this year, but many of the usual suspects sign up on-site each year.

The annual Labor Day Festival in San Francisco is coming up soon. In an era of declining attendance at adult chess events, this has been the lone exception, drawing at least 160 players to the Holiday Inn Golden Gateway at Van Ness and Pine for each of the past seven years. Certainly one big reason that people keep coming back is the friendly and competent staff: organizer Richard Koepcke assisted by TDs John McCumiskey and Tom Langland.

Over these years, no other adult or open tournament in Northern California has attracted this many players, including multiple International Masters and even an occasional Grandmaster. The list of recent winners is quite formidable: Sam Shankland (2008), Josh Friedel (2006, 2007), Alex Yermolinsky (2005), Vladimir Mezentsev (2004), Dmitry Zilbertstein (2003) and Ricardo DeGuzman (2002). Who will win this year?
  • Event: Labor Day Festival
  • Date: September 5-7 (3-day) or September 6-7 (2-day)
  • Location: Van Ness at Pine in San Francisco
  • Format: 6 round swiss in 6 sections (Open, Expert, A, B, C and D/E/Unrated).
  • 3-day schedule: Reg: Sat 8-9:30. Rounds: Sat 10, 4; Sun 11, 4:45; Mon 10, 3:30.
  • 2-day schedule: Reg: Sun 8-9, Rounds: Sun 9:30, 11:45, 2, 4:45; Mon 10, 3:30.
  • Time control: 30/90, G/60 except G/60 for rounds 1-3 of 2-day schedule.
  • Entry fee: $70 adults, $60 juniors postmarked by August 31; $10 more on-site.
  • Prize fund: $5400 based on 160 players, including $700 for 1st place in Open section and $380 for 1st place in each lower section.
  • Tournament flyer
  • Advance entry list
I highly recommend this event to all of my students and friends! Of course, I will be there, with or without my power wheelchair. I suggest the 3-day schedule to serious players because G/60 tends to be like roulette (i.e. more luck than skill), but the 2-day schedule requires less of a time commitment. A weird feature of this tournament is that many kids play up a section, especially those rated within 100 points of the next class. For example, if you're rated above 1700, you should play in the A section for practice.

WARNING: The Bay Bridge will be closed over Labor Day weekend! If you are driving, please make sure to take I-280 or US-101 or cross at the San Mateo Bridge. You may also take BART to Embarcadero Station, walk one block north to California street and catch a #1 Muni cable car to the hotel on Van Ness. Use the trip planner at for maps and route schedules.

Finally, I must lodge a small protest. Most readers are probably unaware that the CalChess Board voted to strip this festival of its longtime "state championship" designation. Mind you that the USCF encourages states to use Labor Day weekend for state tournaments, and, in fact, many big states do run theirs on Labor Day. Instead, the Board saw fit to endorse a yet untested big money event at a brand new venue on Thanksgiving weekend. The motto "Build it and they will come" has not worked well at Bay Area tournaments in the past (e.g. the Firecracker Open fiasco in 2001). I won't say more now, but count me as a big skeptic of this Board decision. We shall see in November.

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