One more Blitz and a Holiday Open, and that's a wrap for '21
If things looked grim for OTB in 2020, things couldn't be more different today. The crowds at this year's tournaments teemed with new faces. Even after our record-breaking championship events in June, new players kept on coming—17 unrated players at the OKC Rapids in September, nine at the Blitz championship in December, and another nine at last week's Holiday Open. Scholastic turnout is rising, too, and these days one tournament a month won't satisfy them; many of our new scholastic players are also regulars at open events.
The 2021 Blitz Championships took place December 12 at the Chandler Baseball Camp, just six months after the same venue hosted the rescheduled 2020 event. Fearing a repeat of last June, when the unprecedented number of players forced the U1000 section outdoors, we omitted that section (it's hard to play blitz in mittens). We also reduced the number of double rounds from nine (grueling) to seven (better) and pushed the start time to 2 p.m. (perfect).
Thirty-two players competed in two sections. Ryan Amburgy handily defended his championship crown in the 17-player Open, winning 13.0 out of 14. Second-place winner Matt Dalthorp (9.5) gave Amburgy one of his two draws that day (the other was Joe Veal). David Luscomb (9.0) came in third. Four players tied for fourth with 8.0 points: Joe Veal, Jerry Casteel (who doubled as chief TD), Jacob Shultz, and Adley Bufford.
A good mix of adults and youths made up the 20-player Reserve (U1700), but at the end of the day it was the kids who took home the prizes. With a score of 12.0, Raymond Jiang took first in the Reserve and became this year's U1700 state blitz champ. Brothers Benjamin Li (11.5) and Joshua Li (10.0) took second and third, respectively. Just one adult managed to finish in the top six—Leon Harvey, whose 8.0 points landed him in a tie for fourth with scholastic player Joseph Zacharias.
An Oklahoma tradition that stretches too far back to be contained by U.S. Chess's online database, this year's Holiday Open was held December 18 at the Harvard Avenue Baptist Church in Tulsa. Jim Berry was chief TD. He was assisted by Tom Braunlich, Harold Brown, and new TD Alex Evers. (Evers will be assisting Berry in leading Team Oklahoma at the 2022 RRSO—stay tuned!)
The tournament veterans in the 25-player Open welcomed quite a few relative newcomers, too, but only one of them made it into the top six. David Luscomb won with a perfect 4.0. A half-point behind him in tie for second were Max Barnes and Josh Li. Third place saw another tie, this one between Vaughan Rees (in his third Oklahoma tournament) and Rahul Pai. Both scored 3.0.
New players dominated the Holiday Open's Novice (U1200) section. At the top were Kuhmar Rezzaq-Shannon and Garrett Hunt, who each scored a perfect 4.0. It was only the second tournament for both players— Rezzaq-Shannon's first event was the previous week's Blitz Championship, where he scored a respectable 7 out of 14; Hunt won an impressive three out of four at his only other tournament, the OKC September Rapids. One point off the winners were three more relative newcomers: Stone Burton, Roman Miller, and Marshall Berry, who began their tournament careers at the 76th Oklahoma Open, the October 2021 OSCO, and the 2021 Steve Wharry Classic, respectively.
If the 2022 Oklahoma tournament calendar looks bleak, don't despair. We're betting it won't look that way for long. Along with the aforementioned Mr. Evers, Oklahoma has several other up-and-coming new TDs. We just learned that Jake Williams has applied for club TD certification. Kelvin Xie, Oscar Wang and Omar Abouzahr already have theirs, as does Josie Braddy, who assisted at three events this fall. As for Moore-based TD Dustin Barrier, well, he had us at "I like playing blitz, so as a TD I'd rather do classical time controls."
New and aspiring tournament directors and organizers: let us know you're out there! And tell us what we can do to support you. The OCA board wants to grow chess in Oklahoma as much as you do, so let's make a New Year's resolution to work together in 2022.
End of an era: Oklahoma Chess Monthly publishes its final issue
12/01/2021 But the news isn't as bad as it sounds. Read all about it, plus annotated games from the 5th Frank K. Berry Memorial and upcoming tournament news, in the December 2021 Oklahoma Chess Monthly.
While you're there, you might notice that something else has changed—we're proud to be the new host for Frank Berry's Okie Database, comprising 17,000+ games by Oklahoma chess players from 1914 to the present. Our thanks to Tom Braunlich for maintaining and updating this treasure chest of Oklahoma chess history, and for allowing us to present it to you here.
5th FKB Memorial a testament to Berry's influence
11/16/2021 Six years ago, Oklahoma lost a beloved and iconic tournament director and organizer. Frank Berry's tremendous influence on our chess community will be felt for generations.
Sho was 10 the first time he made the trip from Kansas to an Oklahoma tournament. The first person he remembers meeting was Frank Berry. After finding himself in a tough Open section and scoring just 1 out of 5 points, he remembers getting encouragement from Frank, who had been watching his games.
"Frank told me not to despair over the results," he said. "He told me to simply enjoy the game and learn as much as I could from my encounters with advanced players." Sho said he looks back fondly at those early OCF tournaments and notes their significant influence on his development as a chess player. "Frank was perpetually entertaining and encouraging."
Chris Amburgy remembers taking a young Ryan to one of these events.
"We were new to the chess scene and it was all a bit intimidating," he said. But Frank put them both at ease, and made a point of making Ryan feel welcome.
"Frank was patient and kind and always made an effort to interact with Ryan. No doubt, his influence helped Ryan feel more confident in pursuing his love of chess."
53 players participated in this year's event. Chief TD and organizer was Tom Braunlich. It was held at the Cattle Country Lodge in Stroud.
UNRUHS WIN BOTH SECTIONS AT ARMED FORCES OPEN
10/12/2021 There were two Open divisions at last week's 62nd U.S. Armed Forces Championships, and an Unruh from Oklahoma won 'em both.
Charles M. Unruh took first place in the U.S. Armed Forces Open Championship, and Charles D. "Chuck" Unruh took first in the Veterans' Open Championship.
Our congratulations to Chuck and Charles, and our thanks to organizer Jim Hollingsworth for putting on this outstanding event for active and retired military personnel.
Missouri player takes top prize at 53rd Jerry Spann
10/12/2021 Fifty-six players from across the region and as far as South Carolina came to play in the 53rd Jerry Spann Memorial, October 9 & 10 in downtown Tulsa. Missouri player Julian Proleiko took first in the Open division with 4.0 out of 5 points. Just a half-point off the leader were Oklahoma's Matt Dalthorp, Daniel Herman (Colorado), and Luke Tran (Kansas).
In the Reserve (U1800), Oklahoma's Elizabeth Braddy was evidently not daunted by the 228-point rating difference between herself and top seed Ryan McCrea (South Carolina). Their round five draw put both at 4.0 points and tied for first with two Missouri players, Jacob Sanders and Robert Talbot. Two Oklahoma players, William Lin and Braden Kelly, tied for first in the Novice section. Both scored 4.5 points.
Our thanks to Chief TD Tom Braunlich, who organized the event, and to assistant TDs Josie Braddy and Harold Brown.
It's like she knows what's about to happen: Elizabeth Braddy before her round 5 upset draw with top seed Ryan McCrea.
"Better late than never" blitz drew record crowd to Chandler
Amburgy's rise continues; another win for Singh
9/8/2021 Twelve Oklahoma players made the trip to Irving, Texas last weekend for the 87th Annual Southwest Open. An impressive round 5 win against GM Razvan Preotu was the highlight of the tournament for NM Ryan Amburgy, who finished at #10 in the 76-player Open.
Viraj Singh went undefeated in the Novice section, where he scored an outstanding 6.0 and added to his growing list of first-place wins. He also added to his rating, which shot up a whopping 182 points to 1283.
A total of 204 players competed in three sections at the event, which was sponsored by the Dallas Chess Club and organized by Luis Salinas. Louis Reed was chief arbiter. Check out the event crosstable here.
Dalthorp wins OKC September Rapids
OKC Rapids continue newcomer trends
9/1/2021 by Tom Braunlich
The recent trend toward high tournament participation with lots of brand-new players continues. New players who started fooling around with online chess the past year during the pandemic have apparently become hungry to try their hand at “real” in-person over-the-board chess...
Read the full article in this month's Oklahoma Chess Monthly. You'll also find annotated games featuring Matt Dalthorp, Joseph Zacharias, Joe Veal, Jake Ferguson, Jessica Kyle, Tom Braunlich, and Ryan Amburgy.
Matt Dalthorp with the white pieces vs. Thomas Nguyen in round one of the OKC September Rapids, held September 25 at St. John's Episcopal Church.
SINGH SOARS TO ANOTHER #1
By Jim Hollingsworth for the Texas Chess Association. Reprinted with permission.
Viraj Singh, an Oklahoma 7th grade student, topped the 41-player Novice section of the 87th Annual Southwest Open, with a near perfect 6/7.0 score.
Two draws against a couple of tough Texans were the only things preventing a complete sweep. Along the way he scored decisive wins over five other Texans.
Singh is no stranger to winning Texas tournaments. In July, He scored 4.5/5 and won the Reserve section of the 4th Queen City of the Prairie and Fort Worth Championship. He has made a name for himself in several U.S. Chess categories: 57th percentile for all USA Juniors, 40th Percentile for all USA players, Ranked Number 80 for all Oklahoma chess players.
UPDATED 8/7/2021 4:52 PM CST:
NM Ryan Amburgy finishes in third place at the U.S. Open Blitz!
Amburgy shines at Denker along with a strong contingent of Oklahoma players
Going into round five of this year's GM Arnold Denker Tournament of High School State Champions, Oklahoma player NM Ryan Amburgy had the highest score of any Oklahoma Denker rep at that point in the tournament. He had just beaten an IM and was tied for first with GM Awonder Liang (and a few other IMs).
Amburgy's performance in the event was outstanding, and he's not done yet—as of this writing, he sits at 4.5 out of 5 in the U.S. Open (with four rounds to go). Other Oklahoma players in the tournament are Joshua Li, Mujtuba Yousufi, and Benjamin Li, who also represented us in the invitationals earlier this week with NM Mark Hulsey, Oscar Wang, and Elizabeth Braddy.
Please join us in congratulating and encouraging these players who are representing us so well at the 2021 U.S. Open and Invitationals!
Singh's on a roll: 1st in the U1000 to 1st in the U1200
PICTURED: Chief TD and organizer Louis Reed presents Viraj Singh with the top U1200 prize at the 4th Annual Queen City of the Prairie Open & Ft. Worth Championships, held July 17 & 18, 2021.
Singh had become Oklahoma
U1000 champion a month before,
at the 76th Oklahoma Open.
Another triumph, another title for Amburgy
NM Ryan Amburgy adds state blitz title to list of recent wins
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.
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.
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!
NM HOWARD ZHONG IS 2021 OKLAHOMA STATE CHESS CHAMPION
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.
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 www.ocfchess.org.
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