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Indiana Chess Newsletter

Schools may officially be out of session in most parts of the state, but there are still plenty of opportunities to "school" your opponents in tournament chess over the next few months.Starting with the Northern Indiana Open in Elkhart on June 24, there are no less than four open events across the state ahead of August's popular Indianapolis Open.For those longing to play in the Indianapolis Open, but shying away from the large entry fee, there is still plenty of time to earn points in the Indiana State Chess Association's "Road to the Indianapolis Open" by playing in the Northern Indiana Open and Class Championships.Full details and standings for the promotion are below.

In this edition, learn about a scholastic player whose perseverance led him to tournament victory after suffering a crushing first round defeat, an adult who entered one of the state's strongest competitions as the third-lowest seed but nonetheless found himself in the winner's circle, and the names of three young Hoosiers who finished in the top 10 of their sections at the largest chess tournament in history.
I. Tournament Recaps
Spring Fling - April 29
Across three sections (K-3, 4-8, Open), 63 players descended upon the Purdue University Stewart Center in West Lafayette for a four-round rated event.  In the K-3 section, young Jeffrey Chen entered the event as the highest rated player by a significant margin, and went duly undefeated.  He was joined atop the crosstable by another perfect score -- Jacob Brashear, who is still provisionally rated but obviously no newcomer to the game.  In the 4-8 division, Yash Bhargava began the day squarely in the middle of the pack, such that he was pitted against the top seed in the first round.  However, for reasons unknown to the author, Yash won the game by forfeit.  Showing that the win was no fluke, he then went to to defeat three more higher rated players en route to a perfect 4-0 score.  While his forfeit win may not have counted for rating purposes, he still managed to gain a staggering 241 points in just three games.  Finally, in the Open section, the legendary Bernard Parham overcame the top seeded Archit Mokashi in the penultimate round to set up an encounter against the only other undefeated player of the day - Logan Cross.  After that game ended in a draw, the two shared first place honors half a point ahead of the field. To see the full crosstable, visit

Ben Harris Spring Chess Open - May 6
Continuing its annual growth trajectory, this year's Ben Harris Spring Chess Open in Bloomington attracted a record 44 players in three section (U3, U6, Open).  In the U3 Section, the top two seeds - Gabriel Cohen and Jeffrey Chen - won each of their first three games of the five round event, setting up a powerful fourth round encounter.  After a tense encounter, Gabriel emerged victorious and then held serve against upstart Sara Rieti on board 1 in the final round to take the top trophy.  For those keeping score at home, Gabriel has now gained more than 200 rating points in the first half of the year.  In the U6 section, a rather unusual situation emerged as top-seeded Gael Medina was felled in the first round against the capable mind of An Kieu.  However, he maintained his fighting spirit and clawed his way back to the top board by the final round.  There, he faced off against University Elementary teammate Yuxuan "Richard" Xun and won a game that took them both to the brink of the time control.  As a result, Gael, Richard, An, and Christopher Chow were tied with identical 3-1 scores.  On tiebreaks, Gael emerged victorious by the thinnest of margins. To all the coaches out there in need of inspirational tales to tell students after a tough loss, you may want to include Gael's persistence in your stump speeches.  Finally, in the Open section, top-rated Hall Bjornstad emerged unscathed after four rounds of play, but not without encountering stiff resistance from each of his opponents.  The real story of the day, however, was the impressive play of IU student Mikel Frausto.  Six years removed from his most recent tournament, Mikel entered the event rated a meager 1032.  After impressive wins over Ben Foley (1545), John Illg (1511), and Mithran Periassamy (1402), however, he jumped to an impressive post-tournament rating of 1299.  To see the full crosstable for the event, visit

IM John Donaldson's Simultaneous Exhibition - May 14
The Bloomington Indiana Scholastic Chess Club invited IM John Donaldson to give a lecture at the Monroe County Public Library about his experiences coaching the gold medalist US chess olympiad team.  After the lecture, he took on 23 of Bloomington's strongest adult and scholastic players in a simultaneous exhibition.  Despite tough opposition, he emerged victorious in every game, with scholastic coach Jimmy Brown being the last survivor.  The entire event can be viewed in a three-minute time-lapse video at

ISCA Memorial Open - May 20
Held at the Church of the Nativity in Indianapolis, participation at this event exceeded expectations again this year, with 56 players playing across two sections (Open, U1800).  Due to the number of entries, pairings were accelerated in both sections, creating tough match-ups for the top seeds in every round.  The top board in each section was streamed live on YouTube, allowing you to relive the games at In the U1800 section, upsets were in fashion as nobody rated 1600+ finished in the top 3 places.  While the strong performances of scholastic players Akash Bhowmik and Grant Mu surprised few, they were joined atop the leaderboard by a rather unexpected player who also had 3.5/4 points - Greg Marshall.  Entering the event as the 3rd-lowest seed with a pre-tournament rating of 942, he defied the rating expectancy tables on his way to a +314 performance!  There were no perfect scores in the Open section, either, as the only players with two victories after the accelerated pairings - Garrett Smith and Michael Wiseman - reached a quick draw in the penultimate round.  They were among four players entering the final round with 2.5 points, but of these, only Garrett was able to convert the full point.  For his efforts, he not only won the bulk of the prize money, but also reentered the ranks of National Master, jumping his rating from 2181 to 2201.  The event was part of ISCA's "Road to the Indianapolis Open" promotion, which will award free entries to the popular CCA event in August to the top cumulative scorers in four rating classes from its events.  Current leaders are Gerry Roberts (Master/Expert, 7 points), Drew Hollinberger (Class A, 5.5 points), Ken Guan (Class B, 4.0 points), and Nathan Johnston (Class C/below, 5.5 points).  Complete standings are live at, or can be accessed directly at  The full crosstable for this event can be found at

II. Tournament Calendar
Northern Indiana Open - June 24
Early registration has officially opened for the second annual Northern Indiana Open.  Hosted at the Hilton Garden Inn, conveniently located just off of the I-80/I-90 Toll Road, this event features a total prize fund of $1000 (b/30).  The event is also part of ISCA's "Road to the Indy Open" promotion that will award four free entries to the big-money Indianapolis Open event in late August (see below) to the top class finishers across the Southern Indiana Open, Memorial Open, Northern Indiana Open, and Class Championships (current standings can be found at The tournament format will mimic the Southern Indiana Open, with 4 rounds of G/60 d10.  Entry fees are $40 by 6/18 at or $55 cash/credit onsite (reg. 8:15am-9:00am).  Advanced entries have started trickling in, and can be viewed at For more details or questions, contact me at

ISCA Class Championships - July 22
Returning to the Indianapolis Airport Crowne Plaza, the ISCA Class Championships is changing formats this year to a one-day event with a time control of G/75 d5 for all sections.  Based on your rating (you can "play up" one class, if desired), you can compete in one of the following: Master/Expert, A, B, C, or D/below.  This will be the fourth and final leg of ISCA's "Road to the Indianapolis Open," with each point earned at the event counting double towards the overall standings.  Entry fees are $50 if received by 7/15, or $65 cash/credit onsite.  Prizes are $1800 b/50, with the top two finishers in each section taking home the big bucks. For more details or questions, contact me at

St. Joseph Grade School Chess Tournament - July 29
The Ackles Center at 711 E. Colfax Ave. in South Bend will host a rated tournament open to both kids and adults.  Beginning at 9am, there will be sections for U500 (K-3 only), U1000, and Open, with escalating time controls based on rating (5/SS G/25, 4/SS G/40, 3/SS G/55, respectively).  The two lower sections will award trophies to 1st and 2nd place, while the Open section will award a designated share of the entry fees to the top two players.   Registration is limited to 50 players, and must be completed by July 27th at If you have any questions, contact Todd Walatka at

Summer Stretch - July 29
Hosted at the Purdue University Stewart Center, this event's format should be familiar to anyone that has played chess in West Lafayette the past couple of years.  There will be four sections (K-3 unrated, K-3 rated, 4-8 rated, Open rated), each of which will play four rounds of G/30 d5.  Scholastic registration is $20, while adults are a meager $10.  These events regularly attract upward of 60 players, including several strong class players, so expect a well-contested event regardless of rating.  Onsite registration is open until 10:30am, or you can register in advance at

12th Annual Indianapolis Open - August 25-27
The Continental Chess Association's Indianapolis Open returns to the Crowne Plaza Airport Hotel this year.  This 5-round event has a longer time control than most at 40/100, SD/30 d10, and a larger prize fund than any tournament in the state at a whopping $14,000.  There are sections for Open, U2000, U1600, and U1200, so almost everyone has the potential for a big check at the end.  Entry fees for the top three sections are $108 online at by August 23, with the U1200 section being $40 less.  If that sounds too expensive for you, remember that ISCA is awarding four free entry fees to this event for the top finishers at its Southern Indiana Open, Memorial Open, Northern Indiana Open, and Class Championship tournaments through its "Road to the Indianapolis Open" promotion.  For more details, visit (please note that the site has not yet been updated from the 2016 version, but should be soon).

USCF Rated Online Chess - Every Week
The USCF runs rated blitz and quick tournaments on the servers.  And best of all, it's free for USCF members to play.  Every Monday night at 6pm, verified members can play in a 5-round, G/10 Swiss system tournament for real rating points.  If that's too early for you, there's also a 7-round G/5 tournament at 11pm. The blitz continues on Wednesdays, where players can sign up for a 7-round 3/2 tournament beginning at 8pm.  For those preferring slightly longer time controls, you can catch the 15/10 tournament on Friday nights at 8pm.  To be eligible to play, just fill out the verification form located here

III. Chess Clubs
South Bend Regional Chess Club - Thursdays at 7:00pm
Michiana's strongest chess club meets on Thursday nights from 7:00pm-10:00pm in the deli area of Meijer on Grape Road in Mishawaka.  There is an organized event every meeting, ranging from G/5 round robins to G/20 Swisses.  The standard deviation on attendance is high, with meetings ranging anywhere from 8 to 30 players, but with regular attendees including masters John Cole and Dennis Monokroussos, who can afford to miss out?

Chicory Cafe Chess Club (South Bend) - Mondays from 6:00-8:00pm
Come and play some casual games of chess at the Chicory Cafe at the corner of Jefferson and Michigan in downtown South Bend.  While you're there, be sure to enjoy the New Orleans-style food and fun atmosphere for both young and old.

BISCC Library Chapter (Bloomington) – alternating Sundays at 1:30pm
The next meeting of the Bloomington Indiana Scholastic Chess Club’s library chapter will be Sunday, June 11 from 1:30pm-3:30pm in rooms 1B/1C of the Monroe County Public Library. Several of the area's top scholastic players are regular attendees, but each session includes a lesson for beginners as well as a weekly activity.  Your first meeting is free to attend, so stop by to see if it would be a good fit for you and your child.  Head coach John Illg has been generating some rave reviews lately, so be sure to check out what all the hype is about.  For more details about the club, visit BISCC's revamped website at, which now includes an option for online registration.

Bloomington Chess Club – Tuesdays at 7:00pm
The Bloomington Chess Club meets every Tuesday from 7:00pm-10:00pm at Buffa Louie's.  Come play in a relaxed environment while enjoying great food.  Games are frequently played at rapid time controls (G/20 or G/15), blitz (G/5), as well as un-timed, so there's a little bit of something for everybody.

Other Clubs in the State
For a non-exhaustive list of other city or regional clubs in the state, please visit  Please note that the information listed there may not be up-to-date, so you should always contact a representative of the club in advance.  If you have trouble locating contact information, send me an email and I will do my utmost to connect you with the right person.

IV. Hoosiers Win Abroad
14th Annual Great Lakes Open - Battle Creek, MI (May 5-7)
A handful of Hoosiers trekked across our northern border to play in this popular event, but none was more successful than the aptly-named Connor Rybka.  He went undefeated in the event's Novice (U800) section, capping an amazing one year stretch of chess in which he gained nearly 700 rating points.

SUPERNATIONALS VI - Nashville, TN (May 12-14)
Once every four years, the Elementary Nationals, Junior High Nationals, and High School Nations are combined at the same venue - the Opryland Resort in Nashville, Tennessee - to form SuperNationals.  This year's event attracted a world record 5575 players for a rated tournament across 25 sections.  Indiana representatives earning rating points were:

Yashom Kapoor (K12 U1600, 5.5/7, T-12th, +101)
Gavin Duffy (K12 U1600, T-280th, +6)
Thaddeus Cole (K12 U1200, 5/7, T-26th, +40)
Elizabeth Schmidt (K12 U1200, 1.5/7, T-339th, +6)
Prince Wilson (K12 Unrated, 4.5/7, T-6th, +166)
Kevin Wang (K9 Champ, 4.5/7, T-16th, +61)
Brendan Duffy (K9 U1250, 4/7, T-58th, +67)
Max Egan (K8 Champ, 5.5/7, T-9th, +60)
Nikhil Datar (K8 Champ, 5/7, T-16th, +59)
Paul Campbell (K8 U1000, 5.5/7, T-9th, +112)
Lilia Wolf (K8 U750 , 3.5/7, T-169th, +82)
Carson Tucker (K6 U1400, 4.5/7, T-26th, +143)
Brayden Warren (K6 U1000, 3/7, T-157th, +25)
Sam Liu (K5 U900, 5/7, T-42nd, +59)
Jacob Phillips (K5 U900, 3/7, T-289th, +22)
Edward Chen (K3 Champ, 4/7, T-61st, +135)
John Bentrup (K3 Champ, 4/7, T-61st, +90)
Aditya Poduval (K3 Champ, 3.5/7, T-96th, +158)
Jacob Brashear (K3 U700, 5/7, T-27th, +73)
Emma Kincaid (K3 U700, 5/7, T-27th, +29)
Jacob Stump (K3 U700, 4/7, T-86th, +167)
Sri Raguraman (K3 U700, 3.5/7, T-156th, +16)
Bright Zang (K1 Champ, 5/7, T-15th, +77)
Benjamin Radefeld (K1 Champ, 4/7, T-50th, +32)
Renner Holland (K1 Champ, 2/7, T-156th, +2)
Mazie Hoffman (K1 U500, 4/7, T-52nd, +195)

Congratulations to all of the competitors!  Full results can be found at

26th Chicago Open - Wheeling, IL (May 26-28)
With an unconditionally-guaranteed $100,000 prize fund, the Continental Chess Association's Chicago Open is a favorite event of many Midwestern players each year.  This year, 29 players from Indiana ventured to the event, but none was more successful than Terre Haute's Jason Wycoff.  Despite a loss in round 3 of the U1900 section, Jason finished in a tie for first place with 6/7 points, earning himself a cool $2020 in prizes.  The prize money is particularly significant, as US Chess awards rating floors whenever you win more than $2000 in a class section.  Thus, even though Jason's post-tournament rating of 1938 suggests that he won't be using rating floors any time soon, he is now ensured a lifetime rating above 1900.  To see the full crosstable for the event, go to

ISCA and THACC Taking Chess to Those in Prison
By Roger Norris

Nov 26, 2016. Hi all, a few months ago, ISCA and THACC (Terre Haute Adult Chess Club) received a request from the Federal Prison in Terre Haute to help build a chess club and tournament program in the Maximum security wing of the prison.  The requestor was Ms. Amy Adams, who leads the recreation program at the prison and she also is heavily involved in education programs for the prisoners.  She is all about providing education and programs that allow for rehabilitation.

ISCA's membership director Roger Norris lives in Terre Haute and is a member of THACC.  He worked with THACC's leader Steve Steppe (former officer in ISCA) and met with Amy about how to structure tournaments.  In September, background checks were completed on Steve and Roger and they entered the facility to meet with those interested in playing and learning more about chess.  To enter the prison, we are allowed to take a single key to our vehicle and our drivers license as ID and the clothes on our back.  The key and license are left at the main security check.  We go through a security device and then through a series of gates to go the recreation area.  It is deep behind the prison walls.  We go through approximately 8 locked gates to get to the rec area.  We pass through 'the yard' and the outdoor rec fields (soccer, football, handball) to get to the rec area.

The rec area consists of a class room, a large open room with ping pong, pool and chess/checker tables, a basketball court, an art room (the art here is amazingly good, some incredible talent), a music room, a ceramics room and a leather working room.  The initial meeting was in the ceramics room.  In attendance were Steve, Roger, Amy and a guard along with 33 inmates.  This is a maximum security prison, so the inmates have committed some rough crimes.  Steve presented the rules by which we would run a round robin tournament within the housing wings in the prison.  Each housing unit would have an inmate with some chess experience as a tutor and then players with various experience levels who would compete for the chance to play in the final four championship tournament in November with Steve and Roger directing.  The basics were presented and then questions were called for...many questions were answered and Steve and Roger knew from the questions, there was some real talent in the room...the questions were beyond the basics and how do we keep the tournament fair.  Steve and Roger played a demo quick game to show folks how the games would work with a clock governing time.

Fairness is important to the inmates.  There is racial diversity in the prison.  We had Blacks, Hispanics, Whites, and Native Americans in the group.  Due to gang memberships and just long personal histories, some of the racial groups truly hate each other.  So, keeping the tournament rules as fair as possible is critical.

In November, Steve and Roger returned to find that the structure set up by Steve had not been exactly executed as planned to get to four wing champs playing each other.  We had two tournaments with 10 tutors and 12 players (players was what Amy suggested we call the inmates) who wanted to play or had qualified to play in the tournament instead of four players.  Steve created a two Swiss tournaments by hand, one for the tutors and one for the players.  Roger acted as floor TD.  Steve ran pairings.  Each section had a clear, undefeated winner.  We had to spend some time explaining how the Swiss system worked.  We had a group of men who were extremely appreciative of folks who played and lived "on the street" spending time with them.

We observed folks of racial groups who have been trained to hate each other matching wits in a strategy game, shaking hands and congratulating each other on games well played.  One of the inmates had created a beautiful ceramic chess set that was just stunning for the tournament.  We had questions about USCF ratings for those in prison and for good resources that they can use within the rules of the prison so they can improve.  The tournament day was a very good day.  We had other inmates sitting in the main rec room observing, so it looks like the number of players may grow.  One of the tutors had taken Steve's basic table for a 4-5 round, round robin tournament and expanded it to accommodate the 24 players from his wing who wished to play.  He did this by hand, as internet access and pairing software are not available.  Steve checked it and said he had done it correctly with color balance.  Pretty amazing to do that by hand...very bright man.  In the event that we did not show up, he had a plan in place to run the two tournaments (tutors and players) as well.

On December 10th, the THACC will go into the rec area and play games with the tutors and players.  We have 8 people through security checks ready to go in.  We are working on the structure of play, but the plan at present is to play quick chess games and let the tutors and players try to beat the folks from the street.  When a game is complete, the next tutor or player will rotate in and try to beat the guys from the street.


Indiana State Championships - October 21-23, 2016

By Gerry Roberts, President

November 3, 2016.
Boasting a field of 78 players and a guaranteed prize fund of $3000, the 75th Indiana State Championships were held at the luxurious Wyndham hotel in Indianapolis late last month.  Among the participants were the reigning state champion (Andy Porter), several former winners (Lester Van Meter, Jim Mills, John Cole, Bernard Parham, Garrett Smith, and Mike Herron), and a prodigy fresh off his first draw against a Grandmaster (Christopher Yuo-Shuo Shen).  Throughout the event, boards 1 and 2 of the Open section were streamed live via YouTube, so some memorable moments captured on film are included below. 

There were a smattering of upset draws and wins in the first couple rounds, but none which resonated quite as loudly as what would come in round 3.  Despite some early shenanigans by Drew Hollinberger, the tenor of the Saturday night games turned serious in a hurry.  On board 2, an offbeat Scandinavian left Garrett Smith temporarily rattled, but he managed to maintain the balance en route to a picturesque stalemate almost exactly three hours later.  Meanwhile, on board 1, top-seeded John Cole had masterly manuevered his rook into the bowels of Mike Herron's position in an endgame, only to be turned on the defensive in time pressure a mere five moves later.  After an ensuing blunder, Cole had to extend his hand in resignation to the new tournament co-leader (the other being Jay Carr).

After a tense draw between Herron and Carr in round 4, as many as 9 players had a chance to win the title going into the final round if neither Herron nor Carr won their games.  More than four hours into the round, the result was every bit as uncertain.  Carr had succumbed to Cole, but Herron was battling Lester Van Meter in mutual time pressure on the top board in the only game remaining.  A loss by Mike would secure a four-way tie atop the leaderboard, but an ill-advised ...Be6 by Van Meter was quickly punished with the loss of a piece, and the result was clear: Mike Herron would be the 2016 Indiana State Chess Champion!  

In the Reserve Section, Joseph Zandstra - a student of Bernard Parham - had a perfect 5-0 tournament, upsetting three higher-rated players in the process.  He was not the only undefeated player, however, as Bloomington's Daniel Rickert managed to go 4.5-0.5 en route to a clear second place finish.  Ratings-wise, the biggest beneficiary of the section was Braydon Povinelli (3-2, +137 points), who has now gained 347 points in the past three months.

Before the final round of the tournament, the annual membership meeting of ISCA was held.  At the meeting, vice president and tournament director Mat Leach suggested moving the state championships to the spring to avoid potential scheduling conflicts with football games and other autumn activities.  The ensuing vote decided to shelve the conversation until the next edition of the state championships.  Two-term president Craig Hines announced that he would not be seeking a third term despite his tremendous success.  Gerry Roberts was nominated to be the new president, with Deadwood Chess Club founder Bob Banta tapped to fill the vacant director-at-large position.

To see the complete crosstable for the event, go to
Mike Herron (2116) vs. John Cole (2406)
Indiana State Championship