The Saint Louis Spring Classic Tournaments

A remarkable thing happened in St. Louis the past couple of weeks during the playing of the 2022 Spring Classic at the St. Louis Chess Club.

There were two different Chess tournaments, the “A” and the “B”. In the top section there were twenty three (23) decisive games played out of the forty five (45) total games contested, which is over 50%. There were even more decisive games, twenty eight (28) in the “B” tournament! That means 62% of the games ended in a victory for one player! This is unheard of in todaze Chess world what with the plethora of drawn games dominating play. The “A” section saw white score twelve (12) wins, with the general of the black army winning eleven (11) games! In round three there were three (3) black wins to go with two draws. Round five (5) saw three (3) black wins with only one (1) win for the player of the white pieces. In the “second section” there were nineteen (19) victories scored by players of the white pieces, with nine (9) games won by the player in command of the black pieces. These two tournaments were truly “fighting” tournaments. This should not be Big News but is because of the unbelievably large number of drawn games in most tournaments these daze, such as tournaments held at the Charlotte Chess Club, where players go to draw. There is a reason for the great disparity between the two Chess havens. Simply put, if a player comes to St. Louis with a case of “shakeitus” he is not again invited. In Charlotte they “Follow the rules.” In St. Louis they make their own rules, which happen to engender fighting Chess. If a player comes to St. Louis with his hand extended, ready to accept a draw at any time, that player deservedly suffers opprobrium from the community.

The time spent watching the games from St. Louis was time well spent. What with the Russian monster killing machine laying waste to Ukraine time was needed for escapism, and nothing is a better escape outlet than the Royal Game, especially when the players come to the board with their knives unsheathed.

The first featured game involves one of my favorite players, GM Titas Stremavicius.

He must be the only Grandmaster who plays with the f-pawn, both f-pawns. Certainly Titas is the leading exponent of the Bird’s opening (1 f4), and after 1 d4 Sid Vicious, as I think of him, plays 1…f5 with regularity. Sid is an imaginative and interesting player who usually plays to win. Until this tournament Sid, given the chance, usually played the Leningrad Dutch. For some reason Titas decided to play differently in his round six game with GM Robert Hungaski.

After, 1. d4 f5 2. g3 Nf6 3. Bg2, Stremavicius played the move 3…e6?! in lieu of 3…d6. Why, Sid, why? Sid tripped and fell all over his blade. Sid must have “booked up” on 3…e6 in order to surprise his opponents in this tournament because he played the same move against GM Elshan Moradiabadi

in round eight. Unfortunately, the vicious one was the player surprised. Sid came out of the opening with a decent position, but in the transition to the middle game Sid Vicious first put one foot in it before putting the other foot in it before falling face first into the slime pit. Those two losses with black were sandwiched between a loss with white to GM Arman Mikaelyan,

Arman Mikaelyan (GM armeno, 23 anni)

making it three losses in a row heading into the last round. Keep this in mind as you read on…

The following game was contested in the last round. GM Christopher Repka

2022 Spring Chess Classic: Chris Repka Interview | Round 4

started the tournament with four (4) straight wins, and after a couple of draws defeated Christopher Woojin Woo

2022 Spring Chess Classic: Christopher Yoo Interview | Round 8

in round seven while General of the white army. At one point I recall Repka being two full points ahead of the player in second place. The youngest human to become a Grandmaster, Abhimanyu Mishra (,

2022 Spring Chess Classic: Abhi Mishra Interview | Round 9

won four (4) games in a row after a second round loss with black versus GM Cemil Can Ali Marandi.

Cemil Can Ali Marandi | ChessStreamers .com

After a draw in the antepenultimate round with GM Elshan Moradiabadi the two players, Mishra and Repka, were tied for first place and were to meet in the penultimate round. It was the game of the event as Mishra, in charge of the black army, handed Repka his first loss. In the last round Stremavicius, who had lost three games in a row, had white versus Repka, who now desperately needed a win…

Titas Stremavicius (2520) vs Christopher Repka (2508)
Saint Louis Spring Classic “B”
A21 English, Kramnik-Shirov counterattack

  1. c4 e5 2. Nc3 Bb4 3. Qc2 d6 4. e3 c5 5. g3 Ne7 6. Bg2 Nbc6 7. Nge2 Bf5 8. d3 Qd7 9. h3 O-O 10. Bd2 Bxc3 11. bxc3 Be6 12. Rd1 f5 13. Bc1 Rad8 14. O-O f4 15. exf4 Bxh3 16. d4 Bxg2 17. Kxg2 Qf5 18. Qxf5 Nxf5 19. g4 Nfe7 20. f5 Na5 21. Bg5 Kf7 22. Rfe1 Rfe8 23. dxe5 dxe5 24. Rxd8 Rxd8 25. Nf4 Nxc4 26. Ne6 Re8 27. Re4 b5 28. Nc7 Rb8 29. a4 Nc6 30. Nxb5 N6a5 31. Nxa7 Rb2 32. Nc6 Ra2 33. Nxa5 Nxa5 34. Bd8 Nc6 35. Bb6 Ne7 36. Bxc5 Nd5 37. Rxe5 Nxc3 38. g5 Nxa4 39. Re7+ Kf8 40. Re2+ Nxc5 41. Rxa2 h6 1-0!spring-chess-classic-b-2022/-1909464958

Stockfish 14 @depth 47 will take the Knight with 4…Bc3. The only other game with the same move order follows, which makes 5 g3 a Theoretical Novelty. There were several turning points and I suggest you surf on over to ( and reply the game. The following position captured my attention:

Position after 17 Kxg2 with Black to move

I was expecting 17…Qg4 because there is no way I would trade Queens when my opponent had an ‘open air’ King!

Klaus Bischoff (2504) vs Rene Stern (2521)
Event: Bundesliga 2016-17
Site: Berlin GER Date: 11/19/2016
Round: 3.5 Score: ½-½
ECO: A21 English, Kramnik-Shirov counterattack
1.c4 e5 2.Nc3 Bb4 3.Qc2 d6 4.e3 c5 5.Nge2 Nc6 6.a3 Ba5 7.d3 f5 8.Bd2 Nf6 9.g3 O-O 10.Bg2 Bd7 11.O-O Rb8 12.f4 Qe8 13.Nd5 Bxd2 14.Qxd2 Ne7 15.Nxf6+ Rxf6 16.fxe5 dxe5 17.Nc3 Be6 18.Nd5 Bxd5 19.cxd5 Nc8 20.Qc3 b6 21.b4 cxb4 22.Qxb4 Nd6 23.Rac1 Rd8 24.Rc6 e4 25.dxe4 Nxe4 26.Bxe4 ½-½

Abhimanyu Mishra won the “B” section of the tournament with seven (7) points, one more than Christopher Repka, who finished a point and a half ahead of a group of four with 4 1/2.

GM Abhimanyu Mishra (2505) vs GM Christopher Woojin Yoo (2514)
Saint Louis Spring Classic “A” Round 9
C03 French, Tarrasch

  1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nd2 Be7 4. Ngf3 Nf6 5. e5 Nfd7 6. Bd3 c5 7. c3 Nc6 8. O-O g5 9. Nb1 b6 10. Be3 Bb7 11. a3 c4 12. Bc2 h5 13. Ne1 Qc7 14. f4 gxf4 15. Bxf4 O-O-O 16. Nd2 Rdf8 17. Qe2 f6 18. exf6 Bd6 19. Bxd6 Qxd6 20. Nef3 Rxf6 21. Ng5 Qe7 22. Ndf3 Re8 23. h4 Qd6 24. Nd2 e5 25. Bf5 Rff8 26. Bxd7+ Kxd7 27. Qxh5 Rxf1+ 28. Rxf1 exd4 29. cxd4 b5 30. Ndf3 Qe7 31. Re1 Qxe1+ 32. Nxe1 Rxe1+ 33. Kf2 Re8 34. Qf7+ Re7 35. Qxd5+ Kc8 36. Qf5+ Kc7 37. Qf4+ Kc8 38. Ne4 Nd8 39. Nd6+ Kd7 40. Nf5 Rf7 41. g4 Nc6 42. d5 Ne7 43. Qd6+ Ke8 44. Qb8+ Nc8 45. Kg3 a5 46. Nd6+ 1-0!spring-chess-classic-b-2022/-289612928
Now that’s a Chess MOVE! Position after 8…g5

9…b6 was a weak move for many reasons, foremost in that it blocked the Queen. 9…Qb6 was best. Mishra hald an advantage even after playing the weak 11 a3. At Lichess the move is given as 11 a3?!, with “Inaccuracy. Ne1 was best.” Then a few moves later Mishra played 13 Ne1? “Mistake. a4 was best.” after that move the game was even…until Yoo took the pawn with 14…gxf4. Stockfish preferred 14…g4. ( The game was lost after Yoo played 17…f6? What would Ben Finegold say?

In the top section, “A”, GM Samuel Sevian and GM Illya Nyzhnyk tied for first place with each scoring six (6) points. Unfortunately, they were forced to play some kind of quick game that is inherently unfair to decide which player “won” the tournament. It is sad, really, when one thinks about it… Show the players some RESPECT!

GM Ray Robson (2676)

2021 U.S. Chess Championships: Ray Robson Interview | Round 11

vs GM Illya Nyzhnyk

2022 Spring Chess Classic: Illya Nyzhnyk Interview | Round 8

Saint Louis Spring Classic “A”
C43 Petrov, modern attack, Symmetrical variation

  1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. d4 Nxe4 4. dxe5 Bc5 5. Bc4 Nxf2 6. Bxf7+ Kxf7 7. Qd5+ Kg6 8. Qxc5 Nxh1 9. Nc3 h6 10. Qd4 d6 11. Nd5 Nc6 12. Qe4+ Kf7 13. Be3 Re8 14. Bxh6 Rxe5 15. Nxe5+ Nxe5 16. O-O-O Nf2 17. Rf1 Qf6 18. Nxf6 Nxe4 19. Nxe4+ Kg8 20. Bf4 Ng6 21. Ng5 Bd7 22. Be3 b6 23. Bd4 Rf8 24. Rxf8+ Nxf8 25. Kd2 Ne6 26. Nxe6 Bxe6 27. a3 Kf7 28. h4 Bf5 29. c3 c5 30. Be3 Ke6 31. Bf4 Be4 32. g3 Bf3 33. Ke3 Bd1 34. Kd2 Bf3 35. Ke3 Bd1 36. Kd2 Bf3 1/2-1/2!spring-chess-classic-a-2022/861379315
Position after 9…h6 with White to move
  1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. d4 Nxe4 4. dxe5 (SF 14.1 @depth 55 and SF 250222 @depth 56 will play 4 Bd3. Houdini @depth 27 will play the move made in the game) 4…Bc5 5. Bc4 Nxf2 6. Bxf7+ Kxf7 7. Qd5+ Kg6 8. Qxc5 Nxh1 9. Nc3 h6 10. Qd4 (The game is still in “book” theory, but this is not “book.” The only move played until now has been 10 Qc4 and eleven examples can be found here, if’n you’re of a mind to delve deeply into the opening:

GM Ben Finegold Wins 2014 Southeastern FIDE Championship

The situation could not have been better going into the last round of the 2014 Southeastern FIDE Championship at the Charlotte Chess Center & Scholastic Academy ( Sunday afternoon. The grizzled veteran GM Ben Finegold was a perfect 4-0 and his opponent, the young IM Kassa Korley, was a half-point behind. IM Korley had White and needed a win; there would be no early draw for the GM, who would have to stand and fight the young upstart in the way an old lion must face his much younger rival on the plains of Africa. Earlier this year in the Great State of North Carolina, at the Ron Simpson Memorial, GM Maurice Ashley lost a dramatic last round game against upstart Expert Sanjay Ghatti of Georgia.

Expert William Coe tested IM Korley in the second round by playing what ( has named the “Tennison (Lemberg, Zukertort) gambit.” The variation has been tested previously, but 5…Nbd7 is not shown on 365chess. After this move it is obvious that since Black has blocked the c8 Bishop, a piece sacrifice on e6 should be considered. The CBDB ( shows a few games with 5…Nbd7, but only one with 6 Bxe6.

William Coe (2166) – IM Kassa Korley (2474)
Rd 2 A06 Tennison (Lemberg, Zukertort) gambit

1. e4 d5 2. Nf3 dxe4 3. Ng5 Nf6 4. Bc4 e6 5. Nc3 Nbd7 6. Ngxe4 Nb6 7. Bb3 Bd7 8. O-O Bc6 9. Re1 Nxe4 10. Nxe4 Qh4 11. Qe2 Be7 12. d4 O-O-O 13. c3 Qxe4 14. Qxe4 Bxe4 15. Rxe4 Bf6 16. a4 Nd5 17. Bf4 Nxf4 18. Rxf4 Rd6 19. Bc2 h5 20. h4 c5 21. dxc5 Rd2 22. Rc1 Rhd8 23. Kf1 R8d7 24. g3 Rc7 25. Rc4 g5 26. b4 gxh4 27. gxh4 Rcd7 28. Ke1 Kc7 29. b5 Bg7 30. a5 Bh6 31. c6 bxc6 32. Rxc6 Kd8 33. b6 axb6 34. axb6 Rxf2 35. b7 Rxb7 36. Rd1 Ke7 37. Kxf2 Rb2 38. Rc7 Kf6 39. Kg3 Rxc2 40. Rf1 Kg6 41. Rfxf7 Rxc3 42. Rxc3 Kxf7 43. Kf3 Bg7 44. Rc5 1/2-1/2

In the penultimate round IM Korley dispatched NM Sam Copeland after 1 e4 g6 2 h4!? d5 3. exd5 Nf6 4. Nc3 when he decided to make it a gambit by playing 4…c6, a TN.

NM Sam Copeland – IM Kassa Korley
Rd 4 B06 Robatsch (modern) defence

1. e4 g6 2. h4 d5 3. exd5 Nf6 4. Nc3 c6 5. dxc6 Nxc6 6. Be2 Nd4 7. Nf3 Nxe2 8. Qxe2 Bg7 9. Qb5 Qd7 10. Qxd7 Bxd7 11. d3 Rc8 12. Be3 b5 13. Kd2 b4 14. Ne2 a5 15. a3 Ng4 16. axb4 axb4 17. c3 Bc6 18. cxb4 Bxb2 19. Rab1 Bg7 20. b5 Bb7 21. Rhc1 Kd7 22. Ne1 f5 23. Rc4 Bd5 24. Ra4 Ra8 25. Rxa8 Rxa8 26. Nc3 Bb7 27. Bc5 Ke6 28. f3 Ne5 29. Nc2 Rd8 30. Nb4 Nc4 31. Kc2 Na3 32. Kb3 Nxb1 33. Nxb1 Bf6 34. Na3 Bxh4 35. Nc4 Be1 36. d4 Bxb4 37. Kxb4 h5 38. Na5 Bd5 39. Nc6 Bxc6 40. bxc6 Kd5 41. Kb5 Rc8 0-1

Meanwhile, GM Finegold beat FM William Fisher in a QGA. Black varied from the game Milton Kasuo Okamura (2191) vs Ronny Knoch Gieseler, Brazil Championship, 2009, with 11…Nde7 in lieu of 11…Ncxe7.
Rd 4 D20 Queen’s gambit accepted

1. d4 d5 2. c4 dxc4 3. e3 Nf6 4. Bxc4 e6 5. Nf3 c5 6. O-O a6 7. Bd3 cxd4 8. exd4 Be7 9. Nc3 Nc6 10. Bg5 Nd5 11. Bxe7 Ndxe7 12. Re1 h6 13. Be4 O-O 14. Rc1 Bd7 15. Na4 Ra7 16. Nc5 b6 17. Nxd7 Qxd7 18. Ne5 Nxe5 19. dxe5 Rd8 20. Qb3 Qb5 21. Qxb5 axb5 22. Red1 Rad7 23. Rxd7 Rxd7 24. Kf1 Rd2 25. Rc2 Rd4 26. f3 g5 27. Ke2 Nd5 28. g3 Kg7 29. Rd2 Ra4 30. Bxd5 exd5 31. Rxd5 b4 32. Rb5 Rxa2 33. Rxb4 Ra6 34. Ke3 Kg6 35. Ke4 Kg7 36. Kf5 Kf8 37. f4 gxf4 38. gxf4 Kg7 39. Rb5 Kf8 40. Kf6 Kg8 41. f5 1-0

This brings us to the decisive last round battle, which followed the recent game Akshat Chandra (2472) vs Illya Nyzhnyk (2639) from the 3rd Washington Int 2014, played 08/13/2014, when Chandra played 14. a3.

IM Kassa Korley (2474) vs GM Benjamin Finegold (2581)
Rd 5

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 e6 4. O-O Nge7 5. Re1 a6 6. Bf1 d5 7. exd5 Nxd5 8. d4 Nf6 9. Be3 cxd4 10. Nxd4 Nxd4 11. Bxd4 Be7 12. c4 Bd7 13. Nc3 Bc6 14. Qd3 O-O 15. Rad1 Qa5 16. Re5 Qc7 17. Qh3 Rfd8 18. Rg5 Kf8 19. Qe3 Rd7 20. Be5 Qd8 21. Rxd7 Bxd7 22. Qg3 g6 23. Bc7 Qe8 24. Bd6 Bxd6 25. Qxd6 Qe7 26. Qe5 Bc6 27. Rg4 Kg8 28. Rd4 Nd7 29. Qc7 Kf8 30. a3 a5 31. Nb5 a4 32. Qf4 Kg7 33. Qd2 e5 34. Rd6 Nc5 35. Qb4 Ne6 36. Nc3 Qg5 37. Nd5 Nd4 38. Qc3 Re8 39. f4 Qg4 40. h3 Qd1 41. Qd3 Qxd3 42. Bxd3 exf4 43. Nb4 Ne2 44. Kf2 Nc1 45. Bf1 Be4 46. Nd5 Bxd5 47. Rxd5 Nb3 48. Be2 Re3 49. Bd1 b6 50. Rb5 Nc5 51. Bc2 Re6 52. Kf3 g5 53. Rb4 h5 54. Kf2 g4 55. hxg4 hxg4 56. Kf1 g3 0-1

I watched this game with interest. It appeared the younger man had a small advantage, but was uncertain how to proceed. 39 f4 looked suspect, but the real culprit was the next move, 40 h3, when 40 fxe5 was expected. The IM vacillated and although there were many vicissitudes, from this point on Ben Finegold outplayed his opponent, showing why he is a GM. He took clear first and the $1000 prize.

Akshat Chandra (2472) vs Illya Nyzhnyk (2639)
3rd Washington Int 2014 Rd 8

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 e6 4. O-O Nge7 5. Re1 a6 6. Bf1 d5 7. exd5 Nxd5 8. d4 Nf6 9. Be3 Be7 10. c4 cxd4 11. Nxd4 Nxd4 12. Bxd4 Bd7 13. Nc3 Bc6 14. a3 a5 15. Qd3 Qc7 16. Be5 Qb6 17. Qg3 O-O 18. Rad1 Rfd8 19. Rxd8+ Qxd8 20. Rd1 Qb6 21. Bd4 Qb3 22. Rd3 Qc2 23. b4 axb4 24. axb4 Nh5 25. Qe5 Bf6 26. Qxh5 Bxd4 27. Rxd4 Qxc3 28. Qa5 Re8 29. Qb6 e5 30. Rd6 Be4 31. b5 h6 32. h3 Ra8 33. Rd8+ Rxd8 34. Qxd8+ Kh7 35. Qd7 f5 36. Qd6 f4 37. c5 f3 38. g3 Qc1 39. h4 Qc3 40. h5 Qc1 41. c6 bxc6 42. bxc6 Qxc6 1/2-1/2

Reese Thompson, who represented Georgia in the Denker at the US Open, lost to FM William Fisher in the first round and drew with the volatile Expert Patrick McCartney (2185) in the third round, to go with his win over Saithanu Avirneni (1865) in the second round and Kevin Wang (1906) in the penultimate round. As things turned out a win in his last round game would tie for second place.

Reece Thompson (2116) vs Jonathan McNeill (2154)
Rd 5 C77 Ruy Lopez, Morphy defence

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. d4 ( (365chess shows this position has been reached most often by GM Alonso Zapata, with 22 games) Nxe4 6.Qe2 (! Regular readers know I applaud this move! Reese, my MAN!) f5 7. d5 Ne7 (The engines prefer 7…Na5) 8. Nxe5 g6 (And here the Houdini plays 8…Nxd5) 9. g4 (?! Reese decides to play fast and loose in this last round game. 9 f3 is more circumspect. For example, 9. f3 Nf6 10. d6 cxd6 11. Nc4 Kf7 12. Nxd6+ Kg7 13. Bh6+ Kg8 14. Bb3+ Ned5 15. Ne8 Bxh6 16. Nxf6+ Qxf6 17. Bxd5+ Kg7 18. Nc3 Rb8 19. O-O b5 20. Bb3 Qd4+ 21. Kh1 Qe3 22. Rae1 Qxe2 23. Rxe2 Bg5 Blaich,G-Strugies, S/Waldshut 1991/GER/1-0 (41) 9…Nc5? (9…c6!) 10. gxf5 Nxa4? (With this move he lets go of the rope. 10…Bg7 is much better. Now it is all over but the shouting.) 11. f6 Bg7 12. fxg7 Rg8 13. d6 cxd6 14. Nc4 Qc7 15. Bf4 Qc6 16. Nxd6+ Kd8 17. Rg1 Rxg7 18. Qe5 Qc5 19. Qxg7 Qb4+ 20. Bd2 Qxd6 21. Qf8+ 1-0

With this win Mr. Thompson tied for second place, along with five others, Kassa Korley; Edward J Lu; Peter Bereolos; Samuel S Copeland; and Aaron S Balleisen. They all took home $275 for their efforts.
Grant Oen, the owner of the Atlanta Kings, lost to Peter Bereolos in the first round, then lost to Atlantan Carter Peatman in the second round. That was followed by a win and a draw with another Atlanta area player, Arthur Guo, in the penultimate round. Mr. Oen took out veteran Keith Eubanks in the last round, winning more money than the players who finished a half-point ahead of him, tied for second place! Grant tied for eleventh place, along with three others, who also went home empty-handed.

The Tokens – The Lion Sleeps Tonight