Where to Play
Daily Chess Puzzle
(April 4-5, Pocatello, ID)
by Garrett Reynolds
It has been a long time. 44 Years. And now, longer still.
That's how long it has been since the winner of the Idaho Closed has also won the Idaho Open in the same year. Yes, even with such mighty champions as 15-time state champion Larry Parsons and 10-time state champion Glen Buckendorf, the last - and only - time someone was able to accomplish this weighty feat was in 1965 by that venerable man of Idaho Scholastic Chess, the pusher of postcards himself, Dick Vanderburg, a winner of the Idaho Closed six times. This is surely due to the competition that is available to the Idaho Open; while the Closed is obviously open only to Idaho residents, the Open is a free-for-all, with winners of past Idaho Opens including GM Walter Browne, multiple winner IM John Donaldson, and a young 17-year old master by the name of Yasser Seirawan back in 1977. While no IM's or GM's were in attendance, the 2009 Idaho Open did indeed feature a strong cast of characters. As noted at the beginning of the tournament, in attendance were nearly all of Idaho's champions: Garrett Reynolds as the 2009 Idaho Closed champion and the 2009 Idaho Scholastic and 2009 Idaho Girl's co-champions Katherine Abderhalden and Emily Patterson. Additionally, we were blessed with the attendance of one of the true gentlemen of Utah chess, life master, and occasional Idaho resident, former Utah and Idaho champion Hans Morrow. Rounding out the strong field was the tournament's sole expert-rated player, former Montana state champion Gregory Nowak. Regrettably, the remaining member of the 2009 Idaho Girl's Champion trifecta, Erica Barkell, was not in attendance. Luke Harmon-Vellotti, Idaho's wunderkind, was also disappointingly absent, as has been the case for this year's ICA tournaments.
As the dust, tears, and late-night beers settled, Gregory Nowak stood at the top of the mountain with a 4-1 score, yielding only a draw to Garrett Reynolds and that most nefarious of opponents, the half-point bye. In the reserve section, Rickey Weathers took no prisoners and allowed none to survive, slashing and burning his way to a Fischeresque 5-0.
And what of Idaho's champions? I could not complete that rare task of finishing first in both the Idaho Open and Closed, instead sharing second with Jeff Roland and Hans Morrow at 3½ - 1½ after barely surviving an onslaught by Emily Patterson and heavily under-rated, D-player-no-longer, Razvan Ungureanu - Randy, as he was nicknamed by resident linguist Barry Eacker - both of whom handily outplayed me in the first and second rounds, after which I (only half-jokingly) asked tournament director Jay Simonson to allow me to play in the reserve section to avoid complete annihilation by the rest of the playing field. Finishing with respectable scores of 2½ - 2½ were Emily Patterson and Katherine Abderhalden, both of whom registered upsets with draws against Garrett Reynolds and Hans Morrow in the first round. As an officer of ICA, I am very excited with the strength of these two young players, and perhaps in the not-too-distant future they will not only be the first female Idaho Scholastic Champions, but also Idaho Closed champions!