MIT student scores top state title at record-setting OK Open

by Joe Veal


94 chess players from numerous states competed in three sections at the 76th Oklahoma Open, held June 26 & 27 at the Stoney Creek Hotel in Broken Arrow. 

MIT student NM Howard Zhong was the winner of the 45-player Open section with a score of 4.5/5. There was a four-way tie for 2nd with 4.0/5 between NM Ryan Amburgy of Jenks, Kansas scholastic player Luke Tran, OCA Treasurer Jerry Casteel, and rising Tulsa player James Yanik.

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PHOTO BY BRUCE WELLS: soon-to-be 2021 Oklahoma Chess Champion NM Howard Zhong had the white pieces in his game vs. outgoing OCA president NM Chuck Unruh.

There were three noteworthy items about this victory: This was the first state championship for Zhong, a graduate of Oklahoma School of Science and Mathematics who is currently a sophomore at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Also, this was the first time in state history a player lost round one, reentered the event in round two to start with .5 out of 1 and swept the final four games to win the title. Finally, Zhong won with the Black pieces against NM Ryan Amburgy. For those who are not that familiar with chess, the person who has the Black pieces moves second and is at a small statistical disadvantage.

There was a four-way tie in the 29-player Under 1600 section. Scoring 4.0/5 were Arkansas player John Tyler Madsen, newly elected OCA President Chris Amburgy, Tulsa player David Beebe, and OSCO scholastic player Stuart Flexner-Bury. After tiebreaks, Amburgy was declared state U1600 champion.

Havish Kunchanapalli from Arkansas had the only perfect score in the Under 1000 section. Yet, this person could not win the U1000 title due to the residency rule. There was a tie at 4.0/5 between OSCO scholastic player Leo Kim and Viraj Singh were the top-scoring Oklahoma players, with 4.0/5 each Tiebreaks favored Singh and he was declared the state U1000 champion.

There will be a few published games from this event in the July edition of the Oklahoma Chess Monthly. Use the link at the top of this page or visit

As the former Vice President of the Oklahoma Chess Association, I would like to thank all of the players, Stoney Creek, the OCA, and TDs Tom Braunlich and Harold Brown for this outstanding event. I would like to see everybody at the next event. View the crosstables here: 76th Oklahoma Open

Another triumph, another title for Amburgy

NM Ryan Amburgy adds state blitz title to list of recent wins

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In a field that included three National Masters, the current Oklahoma chess champion and last year's blitz champ, NM Ryan Amburgy finished at the top and was named Oklahoma's blitz champion for 2020.

The win comes less than two months after Amburgy became our 2021 scholastic champion and six months after he became a National Master. He'll have a shot at another title later this month, when he plays in the 76th Oklahoma Open.

PHOTO: NM Ryan Amburgy is Oklahoma's 2020 Blitz Champion.

"Better late than never" blitz drew record crowd to Chandler

Turnout for Oklahoma's blitz chess championship has historically been small. Just nine players came in 2012, the first year it was held. Five years later, the 2017 tournament drew 23 players and set the record for our biggest-ever blitz... until this year, which smashed that record by more than double.

Players arrived in droves at the Chandler Baseball Camp on Saturday—many with a parent in tow—filling the tournament hall to capacity and causing the U1000 section to be moved outdoors.

48 players came to Chandler this weekend for the 2020 Oklahoma Blitz Chess Championship—more than double the previous record for this event. This was the fourth time Michael Bay hosted the event at the historic Chandler Baseball Camp. 

Chief TD Joe Veal was assisted by Kelvin Xie, who ran the pairings. The "better late than never" event was the fourth Oklahoma Blitz to be held at the Chandler Baseball Camp. Our deepest thanks to host Michael Bay, who has also offered his beautiful venue for our 2021 Blitz Championship later this year. Don't miss it!

James Long is Oklahoma's 2019 Chess Champion

January 01, 2020

Players from Texas, New York, Missouri, Kansas and Arkansas were among the 68 players who competed in the 74th Oklahoma Open Championship, held June 29 & 30 in Tulsa. The Open section drew 33 players; 22 competed in the Reserve (U1600), and there were 13 in the Booster (U1000). 

A nine-year-old Texan, Andy Woodward, earned the top score in the Open with 4.5 out of 5 points. James Long was the top Oklahoma player and was named 2019 Oklahoma Chess Champion. Long and Charles D. Unruh both scored 4.0 points.

With 4.5 wins, Joshua Li of Stillwater won the Reserve. Qing Cao came in second with 4.0 points. Istvan Svabad, Miranda Huang, and John Taylor tied for third with 3.5 points each. 

Levi Applegate scored a perfect 5.0 to win the Booster section. Hunter McDougal finished second with 4.0 points. 

Class champions are as follows:

A - Stephen Gehly
B - Maxwell Barnes
C - Istvan Szabad

D - Qing Cao

E - Preston Koloen

10 players represent Oklahoma at the 2019 Texas State & Amateurs

January 01, 2020

Photo: Oklahoma players Adley Bufford and Gabriel Teubner at the 2019 Texas State & Amateur Championships


Oklahoma players made a strong showing at this year's Texas State & Amateur Championships, held May 24-27 in Fort Worth. 

The only Oklahoma player in the championship section, Ryan Amburgy turned in another strong performance against some of the toughest players Texas could throw at him. But the biggest news came from the amateur (U2000) section, where Adley Bufford scored 5.0 (out of 7) and earned a 166-point ratings jump.


Bufford wasn't the only player who brought some Texas rating points back across the Red River. Oklahoma players averaged +65 points at the tournament. The biggest jump came from Benjamin Li of Stillwater, who earned a 245-point gain.

Other Oklahoma players were Shaun Graham, Naren Pullela, Gabriel Teubner, Chris Amburgy, Lafayette Chen, Joshua Li, and Ryan Chen.

Chuck Unruh is Oklahoma's rapid chess champion

January 01, 2020

A last-minute change of venue didn't dissuade Oklahoma chess players from attending the 2nd Oklahoma Rapid Chess Championships. 54 players attended the event, which was held in Broken Arrow on Saturday, March 25 and directed by Charles M. Unruh.

With a perfect 5.0 score, Chuck Unruh took first at this year's inaugural Oklahoma Rapid Chess Championships. Three players tied for second at 4.0 points each: Benjamin Calupitano, Jr., Zade Mayhani, and Raymond Jiang. 

Liam Applegate won the Reserve section, also scoring 5.0. Levi Applegate, Purin Songrug, Craig Reynolds, Scott, and Hayden Shriner each scored 4.0 to tie for second place. 

Patel wins 2019 Frank Berry Memorial

January 01, 2020

(Photo: IM Advait Patel and IM John Donaldson at the 2019 Frank K. Berry Memorial)

56 players competed in three sections at the 2019 Frank K. Berry Memorial, held May 18-19 at the OSU Institute of Technology in Okmulgee.


IM Advait Patel took first place with 4.5 points. The half point was a result of a draw with IM John Donaldson, who finished second with 4.0 points. Thomas Patton scored 3.5 to come in third.

Zade Mahayni won the Reserve (U1800) with 4.5 points. His only draw was against Kelvin Xie, whose 3.5 points landed him in a four-way tie for second with Curtis Williams, Gabriel Teubner, and David Morgan. 

In the Novice (U1200), Raymond Jiang was the clear winner with 4.5 points. His draw was against Elizabeth Braddy, who tied for 2nd place with Lafayette Chen.


January 01, 2020

With a final score of 24-22, Team Oklahoma won the 2019 Red River Shootout. This year's Oklahoma v. Texas event was held April 27 at the Treasure Valley Casino in Davis.

Team OK Captain Phil Stegall scored a perfect 2.0. Other Oklahoma players who went undefeated were Shaun Graham-Bowcaster, Jake Williams, Fisher Smith, Ish Kissinger, Anna Boevers, Elizabeth Braddy, and Zion Wright.

Also playing for Team OK were Wayne Hatcher, Mike Tubbs, Curtis Williams, Larry Deputy, Leon Tolliver, Jimmy Nazario, Paul Hodgen, William Sparks, Harold Brown, Bruce Wells, Logan Zachare, Jim Berry, Eric Jones, Jake Ferguson, and Rubin Wells. 

James Long wins first Tulsa "ConSat" Open

January 01, 2020

(Pictured: Stillwater players Benjamin and Joshua Li. The brothers tied for first in the Novice section)

With a perfect 4.0 score, James Long won the Open division at the February ConSat Open in Tulsa. The four-round tournament was held on two consecutive Saturdays, allowing players to enjoy the long time controls (G90+30) of a two-day tournament without committing a whole weekend or staying in a hotel. Anthony Paolercio finished second with 3.0 points. Istvan Svabad won the Reserve with 4.0 points.

IM John Donaldson to lecture in Tulsa

January 01, 2020

Donaldson is many-time captain of the U.S. Chess Olympic Team and will discuss those adventures, with Q&A, May 17 at 6:30pm at the Harvard Ave Baptist Church in Tulsa, 3235 E. 17th St. Free admission. He will stay to play in the FKB Memorial.

Zhong, Paolercio tie for first in 2018 OCF Holiday Open

January 01, 2020

NM Howard Zhong and Anthony Paolercio tied for first at the 2018 OCF Holiday Open, held December 29 at Harvard Avenue Baptist Church in Tulsa. 

Patel wins 2018 Steve Wharry Classic

January 01, 2020

With a perfect 5.0 score, IM Advait Patel won the Open division at the 2018 Steve Wharry Classic. Tom Patton, Joe Veal, and Ryan Amburgy tied for second place with 3.5 points each. 

Patel, Pullela take division titles at OK Blitz Championship

January 01, 2020

IM Advait Patel won the Championship division at the Oklahoma Blitz Championship, held October 20 at Chandler Baseball Camp. Patel scored 13.5 out of 14 points. Stephen Gehly and Shaun Graham-Bowcaster tied for second with 7.0 points each, and Chuck Unruh finished third with 6.5 points—the half point coming from Unruh's Round 9 draw against Patel. 

In the Reserve, Naren Pullela took first place with 15.5 out of a possible 18 points. Jeremy Brown and Gabriel Teubner tied for second with 11.5 points each, and Adley Bufford came in third with 11.0 points. 

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