Finegold Ties for 1st at Saint Louis Open

GM Ben Finegold is getting hot at the right time, scoring a T-1st place finish against strong competition at the Bill Wright Saint Louis Open.

By Kostya Kavutskiy

Although the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis is only a few years old, its walls are already filled with prestige and history. The 2013 Bill Wright Saint Louis Open took place April 12-14 giving players a chance to play in the same venue that has hosted the last few U.S. Championships, as well as other notable events. The overall turnout was about 80 players, split evenly among the open and reserve sections. As always, the conditions at the CCSCSL were ideal-they provided boards, clocks, and all the rounds started promptly on time.

The event was populated by regular members of the club and players from out of state, as well as quite a few college players, who represented the chess teams from local universities Webster and Lindenwood. Seven out of eight GMs playing the event came from the star studded Webster University, broadcasting one of the major benefits of the growing college chess scene in the United States.

Tying for first and winning the tournament with 4/5 points were GM Wesley So, GM Georg Meier, GM Manuel Leon Hoyos, and GM Ben Finegold (EDITOR's NOTE: GM Finegold will be participating in the upcoming 2013 U.S. Championship held in Saint Louis May 2-13).

In round three, GM Finegold found a winning sacrifice against GM Corrales Jimenez in what he called "one of his best games ever":

Heading into the last round, the four leaders (So, Meier, Hoyos, and Finegold) were all tied for first with 3.5/4. They each drew their respective games, albeit not without a fight, while last round match-ups Boros - Corrales and Bregadze - Bykhovsky were also drawn, leaving a four way tie at the top. I also had a chance to sneak into a share for first place, but that would have required a last round win over GM Diamant, a challenge I wasn't quite up for.

Earning 5th place in the Open were GM Fidel Corrales Jimenez, GM Anatoly Bykhovsky, GM Denes Boros, GM Andre Diamant, IM Vitaly Neimer, and IM Levan Bregadze, all with a score of 3.5/5. The U2300 prize was split between NM Nolan Hendrickson, FM Doug Eckert, NM Spencer Finegold, and Isaiah Gadson, who each scored 3/5 points. Lastly, winning the U2100 prize were Matthew Larson, Zach Stuart, and Tian Lu Peng.

The U2000 section was won by Spencer George Lehmann, who scored 4.5 points. Tying for 2nd were Matt Barrett, Albert Damont Howlett, Vanita Young, and Justin Gm Hull, all with 4/5. The U1800 prize was shared by Julian Proleiko and Joseph Michael Bean, while the U1600 prize was split by Clark Zhang Berry and Richard Berry. Finally, the U1400 prize was hotly contested and won by Bruce Potratz, Ken West, Josh Cardenas, Akshay Srinivasan, and Timothy Paul Baur.

There were also upset prizes, awarded to the winner of the first upset in each section. These were $25 apiece and offered by In the open section Matthew Larson won the prize for his win over NM Ruifeng Li, while Paul Goddard earned the prize in the reserve section by beating Barry Manthe, the number one seed.

For full standings of the Bill Wright Saint Louis Open, check out the MSA report here, and if you're ever in the Saint Louis area, make sure to stop by the club and see for yourself what all the fuss and attention is all about! And be sure to follow for news on the 2013 U.S. Championship, starting on May 3 at the Saint Louis Chess Club.