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.