Oregon Juniors at the Oregon Open

The Oregon Open is a strong three-day tournament held each year over Labor Day weekend. This year, there were 90 players divided into two sections: Open and Reserve (U1800). Most of the players were adults, but twenty Oregon juniors braved the long days and tough competition on their last weekend of summer.

Over the years, Oregon juniors have earned the respect of the adult players by performing very well in events like the Oregon Open. This year the tradition continues.

Five Oregon juniors played in the Open Section. Calvin Parnon (Corvallis), Steven Witt (Hillsboro), David Wen (Corvallis), Maxwell Sun (Corvallis) and Ben Pikus (Beaverton). David, Max, and Ben were eligible to play in the lower-rated Reserve section but opted to “play up”. It takes guts to “play up” when you know that there’s a good chance that all your opponents will be higher-rated than you. You may not win as many games as you would in a lower section, but your play will improve faster than it would playing weaker opponents. And by playing up, you may well beat some very strong players — a taste of things to come as you continue to improve. Exhibit A at this year’s Oregon Open is Maxwell Sun (Corvallis). He beat Life Master and 2009 Oregon state champion Carl Haessler. Great job, Max! He finished with 2.5/6, tied with Steven Witt (Hillsboro, 11th grade) for first place among Oregon juniors. David Wen (Corvallis, 9th grade) had a rough first day. In the first two rounds, he had to face two opponents who were each rated about 300 points higher than him. After starting out 0/2, he finished with four draws against four higher-rated players for a final score of 2/6, just a half point behind Max and Steven. At USCF 1442, Ben Pikus (Beaverton, 9th grade) was by far the lowest-rated player in the Open Section, so he knew he was in for a difficult tournament, but he played great and scored a 527 point upset. Calvin Parnon (Corvallis, 10th grade) has gone from unrated novice to #2 junior in the state in just a few short years. On Saturday he notched his first win against a chess Master.

A total of 47 players competed in the  Reserve Section, including 15 Oregon juniors, whose results are summarized in the table below.

Name Score Rating Before Rating After
Dillon Murray
Aaron Pikus
Gabe Skoro
Jeremy Coste
Dhruva Chatterjee
Liam Booth
Venkat Doddapaneni
Leo Sun
Hansen Lian
Praveer Sharan
Pranav Sharan
Marshal Xu
John Mitchell
Abhinav Brahmarouthu
Neal Aditya

Most notable performances include a breakout tournament for Dillon Murray (Gresham, 9th grade), who tied for second at 4.5/6.0 and has been on a tear this summer.  Oregon HS champ Aaron Pikus also tied for second.

Gabe Skoro (Portland, 7th grade) had been less active the past year or so than in previous years, but he had great performances at both the Centennial Open and the Oregon Open this summer.

Jeremy Coste (Portland, 7th grade) has not played in Oregon scholastic events, but he has now earned his initial established USCF rating of 1477, which puts him near the top of Oregon middle school players.

Venkat Doddapaneni (Portland, 7th grade) is one player who understands that the quickest path to improvement involves playing against strong competition. That path can be frustrating at times, but Venkat’s courage is now showing up in his rating — he scored 3/6 and picked up nearly 200 points!

John Mitchell (Klamath Falls, 5th grade) and Abhinay Brahmarouthu (Portland, 7th grade) both picked a very tough event for their first USCF-rated tournament, and both won games against strong opponents.

Oregon at Denker and Barber

Each year each state nominates one high school player to play in the Denker Tournament of High School Champions held in conjunction with the US Open. This year’s Oregon representative was Aaron Pikus (School of Science and Technology, Beaverton), winner of the high school elite section at the OSCF State Championship. The Denker is perhaps the strongest scholastic tournament in the USA. Nearly a third of this year’s players were Masters (rated 2200+) and about half were rated above 2000. Despite being 500 points lower-rated than the average, Aaron played great chess, scoring 2.5/6 and tied for 32nd-36th. All but one of the players finishing ahead of Aaron or tied with him were at least 100 points higher-rated. Excellent work, Aaron!

Beginning this year, each state can also nominate one K-8 player to compete in the Dewain Barber Tournament of K-8 Champions, also in conjunction with the US Open. This year’s nominee was David Wen (Cheldelin Middle School, Corvallis), co-champion in the middle school division at the OSCF State championships. David was chosen over the other co-champion, Erik Skalnes (Roosevelt Middle School, Eugene), because Erik had a schedule conflict with the Barber. Otherwise, they’d have had to play a match to determine the Oregon representative. David was a great Oregon representative and ended up with a respectable 2.5/6, tying for 27th-33rd. Congratulations, David!

Corvallis Dog Days

Eighteen players came to Corvallis on a scorching hot day to play some cool chess at Zion Lutheran School. All earned an enamel dog print pin while battling it out for the “full dog” trophies awarded to the top three finishers in each section. In addition to chess, players engaged in some basketball, dodge ball, video games, and celebration of Marjorie Sheiman’s birthday with cupcakes, grapes, and strawberries. Full results at NWSRS.

Open Section (clockwise): Marshall Xu, Alex Petersen, Matt Dalthorp, Tu

Marshall Xu, Alex Petersen, Matt Dalthorp, and Tucker Price played a double round-robin in the open section. Matt had a substantial rating advantage over the others and ended up with a perfect 6/6 after getting a scare in the final round against Marshall. Alex hadn’t played a single game in many months but showed little rust in scoring 3/6 for second place. Although much younger than the rest of the players in his section, Marshall was not at all intimidated and scored 2/6 for third place. After losing the final game and scoring only one point overall, Tucker was upbeat and pleasant and earned himself a “full dog” for Good Sportsmanship.

Open section winners: Marshall (3rd), Alex (2nd), Matt (1st)

The six players in the advanced section, played a 5-round round robin. The results were as clear as possible: no ties for any place.
Casey Ford 5/5
Margie Sheiman 4/5
Alex Schoen 3/5
Grant Chen 2/5
Lance Roy 1/5
Andrew Sheiman 0/5

Marjorie Sheiman begins the B-day celebration by taking on Casey Ford in the first round

The intermediate section was a five-round Swiss with eight players. The day ended with high drama in the final round. Max Franklin had a perfect 4/4 going into the final round but he was slated to meet Jeff Wang (3/4) for first place. Max’s position fell apart early, and Jeff was able to clinch a tie for first by winning in short order. That left four players in contention for third place. Kevin Dai and Adrian Camero won their games early to finish at 3/5, while Fedor Semenov (2.5/4) played a long, close game against Atticus Crow (1/4). A win by Fedor would put him in clear 3rd, a draw would mean a three-way tie for third, and a loss would mean a tie for third between Kevin and Adrian. Fedor and Atticus played a well-balanced game and went into a rook and knight endgame with both players having several pawns. They traded off most of the pawns before Fedor won Atticus’ rook. Fedor then played like a grandmaster — confident and without hesitation — to checkmate with rook and king to win the final dog trophy.


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Portland Chess Club Centennial Open

Celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, the Portland Chess Club is one of the oldest living chess clubs in the US. Festivities at the Lloyd Center Hilton Doubletree Hotel August 12-14 included a three-day chess tournament, a 14-round blitz tournament, and a 10-board simul with Susan Polgar, former Women’s World Champion and first female grandmaster.

Overall 180 players participated, including 22 Oregon scholastic players. Alexandra Botez (Clackamas) and Calvin Parnon (Corvallis) played in the championship section. The section ended with a four-way tie for first at 5/6, including IM Georgi Orlov (2541), FM Bindi Cheng, FM Nick Raptis, and Loren Laceste. Alexandra scored an impressive 3/6, tying with National Master and two-time defending Oregon champion Radu Roua (and winner or co-winner four of the past five years) and several other players. Calvin was one of a handful of brave souls rated below 2000 who elected to play in the championship section.  His play has improved tremendously the past two years by virtue of his hard work and his custom of always seeking out the strongest competition he can find. He played well and got a strong advantage in several of his games but had trouble converting his advantages to wins — a good tournament and frustratingly close to a great result. Expect to see Calvin at the top of the cross tables in strong tournaments in the not-too-distant future.

Top Scoring Oregon Juniors Alexandra Botez and Matt Dalthorp

Of the 20 Oregon scholastic scholastic players in the U2000 section, Matt Dalthorp (Corvallis) scored the highest with 4.5/6, tying for sixth overall and winning the 1st place U1800 prize ($500).  Maxwell Sun (Corvallis) and Steven Witt (Hillsboro) scored 4/6 in a 16-way tie for 16th-32nd place and a four-way tie for 2nd-5th among U1800s, winning $125 each.  Collin Goldman (Eagle Point) and Dhruva Chatterjee (Wilsonville) finished at 3.5/6, with Dhruva tying for third among U1600 players.  David Wen (Corvallis), Austin Nguyen (Portland), Dillon Murray (Gresham), and Nathan Jewell (Portland) scored 3/6. Nathan’s result was particularly notable. Of the 68 players scoring 3 or better, he was the lowest-rated by over 200 points!

Summary of the Oregon scholastic players’ results (full results here) :

Name Grade City Score Place
Championship Section
Alexandra Botez 11 Clackamas 3.0 Tied 22-33
Calvin Parnon 10 Corvallis 1.0 Tied 49-52
Amateur Section (U2000)
Matt Dalthorp 10 Corvallis 4.5 Tied 6-15
Max Sun 6 Corvallis 4.0 Tied 16-31
Steven Witt 11 Hillsboro 4.0 Tied 16-31
Collin Goldman 11 Eagle Point 3.5 Tied 32-48
Dhruva Chatterjee 8 Wilsonville 3.5 Tied 32-48
David Wen 9 Corvallis 3.0 Tied 49-68
Austin Nguyen 10 Beaverton 3.0 Tied 49-68
Dillon T Murray 9 Gresham 3.0 Tied 49-68
Nathan Jewell 7 Portland 3.0 Tied 49-68
Ethan Allison 5 Bend 2.5 Tied 69-90
Clemen Deng 8 Portland 2.5 Tied 69-90
Matthew Stevens 11 Portland 2.5 Tied 69-90
Gabe Skoro 7 Portland 2.5 Tied 69-90
Liam Booth 5 Portland 2.0 Tied 91-109
Leo Deng 6 Portland 2.0 Tied 91-109
Andrew Sheiman 5 Portland 2.0 Tied 91-109
Venkat Doddapaneni 7 Portland 1.5 Tied 110-118
Marjorie Sheiman 8 Portland 1.5 Tied 110-118
John Ornes 6 Corvallis 1.0 Tied 119-123
Hansen Lian 5 Portland 0.5 Tied 124-125

A number of Oregon scholastic players also played in the blitz tournament on Saturday between rounds of the Centennial Open: Collin Goldman, Gabe Skoro, Austin Nguyen, Clemen Deng, Matt Dalthorp, and Leo Deng. Full results here.

Corvallis League

There is a brand new Corvallis Chess League. We meet once per week to play one  USCF-rated G/90 game. The league is open to all USCF members but because of the long time-controls, it is well-suited for more mature scholastic players and adults. There is no cost to join and no awards given out. It is just a good opportunity to keep sharp, prepare for other events (like the PCC Centennial Open, the August Albany Open, Oregon Open, etc.), or just to enjoy one high-quality rated game per week with chess friends.

We meet Tuesday evenings at 7:00 in the Community Room upstairs at the Corvallis Market of Choice on the corner of 9th and Circle.

Contact onco111@yahoo.com for more info.

Top 25 List Updated

The list of the 25 highest-rated Oregon scholastic players has now been updated. Alexandra Botez of Clackamas tops the list at 2036, Corvallis has four players in the top eight, and several new names have moved onto the list as a bunch of seniors graduated.

Number two (David Wen) is representing Oregon in the Barber Tournament of Champions in Florida this weekend (July 30 – August 2).

2011 All-Stars Invitational

Oregon All-Stars Invade the Capitol

The 4th Annual Oregon All-Stars Invitational tournament is scheduled for October 14, 2011 in Salem. The event is held in the grandeur of State Capitol building and is specially designed to celebrate the accomplishments of the strongest scholastic players in the state. All participants will be recognized in a special awards ceremony in the Capitol Galleria to receive All-Stars pins and a special All-Stars gift and will then have the chance to compete for cash prizes in small, evenly-matched sections.

Participation is by invitation only for players who either: i. were among the top ten highest rated, active players in their grade during one of year’s trimesters September-December, January-April, or May-August are invited, or ii. have demonstrated long-term commitment and have appeared on a “Lifetime Achievement” list of the top 25 most active NWSRS players.

If you aren’t on one of this year’s lists yet, summer offers a great opportunity to make it onto the Fall All-Stars list, published at the beginning of September. Many players don’t play during the summer, but only players that are active during the summer are eligible. A smaller pool of eligible players makes it easier to make it onto the list. Be sure to check the NWSRS calendar for rated events this summer.

Some scholastic events, appropriate for K-12 players of all skill levels:
August 20: Corvallis Dog Days
August 27: August Albany Open

Events for adults and more experienced scholastic players:
July 30: Portland Chess Club G/60
August 12-14: Portland Chess Club Centennial Open
August 27: Portland Chess Club G/60

Portland Chess Club Summer Open

The seasonal opens at PCC are serious, two-day events with long time-controls. Clocks, notation, USCF membership, a sizable entry fee, and a great deal of patience and stamina are required. Each year a majority of the players are adults, but this year a substantial fraction of the players were K-12 students, and they made a strong showing.

Players rated over 1800 must play in the Open section, but others are welcome to “play up” if they want tougher competition. All but one of the eleven adults in the section were rated over 1800, and all but one (David Wen) of the six scholastic players was rated below 1800. Calvin Parnon, Matthew Stevens, Matt Dalthorp, Austin Nguyen, and Maxwell Sun all elected to play up.

Calvin (10th grade, Corvallis) finished with 3.5/5 and at the top of the heap among the scholastic players, tying for second overall. Calvin has been working hard and playing well, but he’d been stuck on a frustrating plateau for the past year. His play has looked great recently, though, and he’s picked up over 150 ratings points in two events in the past month to burst over 1800 for the first time. Calvin is a great, versatile player and probably still under-rated. In his first round, he played a solid, positional game and slowly built up winning advantage, outplaying the eventual tournament winner, chess Expert Brian Esler. Unfortunately, he ended up losing the game on a blunder, but it was still an impressive piece of work put together by a rising star. After nearly winning a quiet positional game against an Expert, he tore apart a class A player in a wild tactical melee. In the final round, he found himself down a pawn in the endgame against National Master Mike Janniro. Demonstrating great endgame knowledge, he sacrificed his bishop for a pawn to leave Mike with a bishop of the “wrong color.” He could not force Calvin’s king out of the corner — draw!

David Wen (9th grade, Corvallis) moved to Oregon from Ohio last year and immediately made an impact on scholastic chess in the state. When he arrived last summer, he was the highest-rated eighth-grader in the state at 1740. Since then, he’s been playing a lot and improving rapidly. In April he won the title of Oregon Middle School Co-Champion at the OSCF State Championships in Seaside and will represent Oregon in the first-ever national “Barber Tournament of K-8 Champions” in Orlando, Florida, July 30-August 2. Only one player from each state may attend, and Oregon is proud to have David as the state’s representative. In the past month and a half, David has added over 100 points to his rating, and his play looks great as he prepares to go to Florida.

Starting the tournament with a rating of 1371, Matthew Stevens (11th grade, Portland) was by far the lowest-rated player in the section. Before the tournament began, someone whispered, “Yeah, his rating is in the 1300s, but he plays like a 1700.” 1700?! No, not last weekend. His tournament performance rating was 1849 as he scored 2.5/5. Expect to see him near the top of the strong 11th grade All-Stars soon.

Matt (10th grade, Corvallis) always seems to elect to play in the upper section even when he’s eligible for a lower section. Not only does he enjoy the challenge, but he also understands that players tend to get better when they play tougher opponents and weaker when they play weaker opponents. Like Calvin, Matt was stuck on a plateau (1500s) for about a year, but he’s picked up over 200 points since January and has broken through the 1700 barrier.

Last year Austin Nguyen (10th grade, Beaverton) was involved in a lot of activities last year and didn’t go to nearly as many chess tournaments as in previous years. This year he’s back in style, taking on the challenge of playing in the Open section at the Summer Open and scoring 2/5.

Maxwell Sun (6th grade, Corvallis) was by far the youngest player in the open section, but his chess is phenomenal. Max likes sharp, tactical games, but somehow his pieces always seem to be exactly where they need to be for quieter, strategic maneuvering as well. Scoring 1.5/5, Max had a great result for his first foray into the brutal Open section at a PCC event.

In the Reserve Section (U1800), Steven Witt, one of the top 11th graders in the state, took sole first with 4.5/5.0 after salvaging a draw in the final round. Other Oregon scholastic players included Dillon Murray (9th grade, Gresham), Clemen Deng (8th grade, Portland), Praveer Sharan (2nd grade, Lake Oswego), Pranav Sharan (8th grade, Lake Oswego), Rahul Majmudar (7th grade, Portland), and Seth Talyanksy (5th grade, Portland).

Full results can be found here.

Coquille: Rain Does Not Deter

By Nancy Keller.

Saturday it was raining, it was pouring but there were no chess players snoring as they intensely battled over the chess boards at the July LaVerne Park Chess Tournament and Water Fest.

Apparently rain does not scare chess players away as this tournament had one of the largest turn outs seen so far at the LaVerne Park Summer Chess Tournaments. Vincent Robertson, a fifth grader from Texas, was visiting grandparents and after hearing about the tournament on the radio, wanted to play. David Chung, an adult from Albany was attending a family reunion. Family members knew of his interest in chess and informed him about the chess tournament. Philip McNiel, a college student from Powers had only played chess on the computer and was looking forward to playing chess “live”. Colton Hinman, 10th grade from Myrtle Point, knew of the Coquille Chess players reputation for being tough players to beat but was looking forward to the challenge.

With rain pouring from the skies, picnic tables were huddled under two shelters to stay dry. But between rounds, kids were in the river exploring, catching crawdads and salamanders, and enjoying the warm rain.

Six players were selected for the elite division with their ratings over 1000. Adult brothers Jeff and James Sperling had to battle against each other in the third round, with Jeff the victor (this time at least). Aaron Grabinsky, Coquuille eighth grade, was paired against Mark Claiborne (adult and toughest known chess player in Coos County), in the first round and it was a brutal war. They eventually ended in a draw. Then both beat all their other opponents and tied for first place to win the cash prize.

The other seventeen players were pitting against each other in a five round non elimination swiss sys system. Philip McNiel ( adults from Powers) was undefeated but was impressed at the tough “live” opponents that made him work hard for that success. Judah Avery (adult from Bandon) won second place and Colton Hinman (10th grader from Myrtle Point) showed he could take on the challenge of Coquille players as he placed third. Coquille first grader, Mackenzie Collard showed her possible prodigy skills as she placed sixth behind three adults and two older kids. Prizes of squirt guns, bubble wands, frisbees etc were distributed and the park was quickly deserted as wet kids and adults figured that was enough rain for one day.