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Crisologo on the Go Go at Spring Challenge

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Raoul Crisologo (right) in his decisive game against David Bassett.
Raoul Crisologo (right) in his decisive game against David Bassett.
Congratulations to Raoul Crisologo (2127) who won the Spring Challenge tournament with a score of 5.5/6. Crisologo took a bye in the first round but then never let up as he won five games in a row to take clear first place by a full point.

The club had a superb turnout for the tournament with a record 90 players split over two sections (Open and Under 1500). The strength of the tournament was boosted by the participation of International Master Tim Taylor (2410) who tied for second despite taking byes in the first two rounds. With NM David Bassett (2298) and more than ten experts also taking part, the tournament was the strongest in Arcadia for some time.

Crisologo's path to victory started routinely as he was paired way down in the first three rounds. However, he was extremely fortunate to win his round 5 match up against Tom Zapanta (2034) when Zapanta, who had a terrific position, failed to notice Crisologo's mate in one threat. Crisologo then took on Bassett in the final round, with both players knowing a win would guarantee first place. Bassett built up a promising position with the white pieces and black went astray with a couple of natural looking but futile moves such as Ng4?!, which only encouraged white to reposition his pieces favorably. However, a blunder by white cost him a piece and he then started to shed pawns before entering a hopeless end game where black's two connected passed pawns were rampaging down the board. By winning this game and the tournament, Crisologo's rating went from 2127 to 2165. It surely won't be long before he is closing in on the Master title.

On board 2, Tim Taylor had black against Matthew Hayes (2108). In a slightly unusual French Defense (with white playing 2. f4!?), the queens game off early giving white doubled b pawns but pressure along the a file. Black then played an interesting but probably unsound pawn sacrifice that meant he had to either take a draw by repetition or try to mix things up by planting a knight on d3. Taylor opted for the latter but, once the knight was ejected from d3, black was simply down a pawn with no real compensation. With his time getting low and a number of moves still to be made, Hayes decided on a safety first approach by locking up most of the pawns. With black having no good pawn levers, the two players quickly agreed to a draw.

Craig Faber (2137) defeated Tom Zapanta on board 3 by essaying his trademark London System and, on board 4, Scott Roods 2139) beat Dave Matson (2036) in a fascinating end game tussle. Matson had looked to have things under control but some inaccuracies in time trouble let black win a pawn. With black having queen and knight vs queen and bishop, even without the extra pawn the position was likely to have favored black slightly as the queen and knight usually work well together. As it was, white's king was chased around and he had to resign when faced with black's extra passed pawn on the queen side.

Six players shared second place. Taylor, Bassett, Roods, Faber, Hayes and Henry Castro (2081) all scored 4.5/6.

In the Under 1500 section, three players dominated the field to finish on 5/6 and split first place. Bob Head (1406) took two byes but won the four games he did play, gaining a huge 138 rating points in the process. Anthony Ababat (1388P23) drew against two of his biggest rivals, Isabella Liu (1307) and Richard Luchetta (1491), but wins in his other games put him into a share of first place. Finally, Isabella Liu also scored four wins and, combined with her draw against Ababat and one half point bye, also put her on 5/6. Ababat's rating is no longer provisional and is now 1499. Liu went from 1307 to 1424, another massive rating gain. Congratulations to all three players!

Most of the big rating gains were confined to the Under 1500 section. In addition to Bob Head, Anthony Ababat and Isabella Liu's big gains, Abinanda Mukundan went from 1254 to 1375 (121 points), Tony Tong from 1227 to 1335 (108 points), and Aaron Sun from 1161 to 1298 (137 points). Somehow, even these gains didn't come close to the colossal rating increases by Wayne Chien, who went from 833 to 1007 (174 points) and Tommy Wen who went from 605 to 861 (256 points!).

There was one notable exception in the Open section when it came to big rating gains. Russell Balcom (1547) beat two A players on the way to scoring a very respectable 3/6 and his rating went up to 1662, a 115 point increase, in the process.

Our thanks go to Mike Carlson who organized two "Quextra" rapid tournaments than ran during rounds 4 and 6. We intend to run more of these tournaments in the future so please keep an eye out for future announcements.

The chess club will be closed Monday, May 26 for Memorial Day. The club re-opens June 2 for a new tournament, the McGuire Open.