Saturday, August 04, 2007

Cao Places in Denker Competition

Illinois luminaries stay home, but local kids soldier on in U.S. Open; sleeper IM beats Nakamura

In a U.S. Open tournament that is light on high-profile participants from Chicago and Illinois, the Prairie State has nevertheless made itself felt in the person of Tony Cao, who finished second in the Denker competition for the top high school chess player in the United States.

Tony, who hails from downstate, finished with a splendid 5.0/6.0—that’s five victories in six rounds—against the other 49 state champions. The only player to finish ahead of him was the winner, Warren Harper of Texas, with 5.5/6.0. Tony’s only loss came in the fourth round to Warren. Maxx Coleman of Kansas also finished with the same record as Tony but ended up in third place on tiebreaks.

The Denker tournament is named for the late, great International Master Arnold Denker and is taking place in conjunction with the 2007 U.S. Open and the Susan Polgar Invitational for Girls. Julia Kerr of New York won the Polgar tournament—Illinois had no representative, I believe—and the main event, the U.S. Open, continues. After six rounds, Tony is in 42nd place in a field of 416 players, while Eric Rosen of Skokie in is 56th place, with 4.5/6.0.

Eric, an eighth-grader-to-be and a strong Class A player (1900+) got a draw in the third round against strong master Daniel Shapiro of New York. While Eric has beaten masters before, Shapiro (2300+) is the strongest player against whom he has gotten at least a draw. Incidentally, considering the problems that tournament officials have had getting results from the tournament up on the Web, I and others around here are indebted to Eric’s mother Andi Rosen, who has sent home regular dispatches from the scene.

In other action, IM Amon Simutowe, not a player I’d ever heard of before, staged an upset in beating former U.S. Champion Grand Master Hikaru Nakamura in round 6. I’ve heard of him now! Simutowe is in second place behind leader Benjamin Feingold of Michigan. More as it becomes available.

Update: This just in. Eric Rosen got a draw in his final round against Maxx Coleman, who finished third in the Denker competition. Eric, it's worth noting, isn't eligible for the Denker competition, since he's not in high school yet, but as the Cubs say, wait'll next year (though, of course, it has a completely different meaning in Eric's case).