Yermo's travels: U.S. Senior Open 2019

by Alex Yermolinsky
7/5/2019 – In the U.S. there's a new U.S. Senior Invitational starting soon, but as a warm-up GM ALEX YERMOLINSKY travelled to Illinois for the U.S. Senior Open. He and fellow former U.S. Champion Joel Benjamin were the top seeds, but 62-year-old GM Dmitry Gurevich, also a four-time U.S. Champion, scored a clutch last round win to finish in sole first with 5½/6. "Yermo" also snagged an annotated game from U.S. Junior Open winner IM Christopher Shen. | Photos: Alex Yermolinsky

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Gurevich is U.S. Senior Open Champion

U.S. Senior (50+) Open tournaments have a long history of being held at vacation spots. For the first 10 years of my own eligibility I had ignored them. The idea of going for a random open with just about $1,000 for first place just never clicked for me, mainly because of the difficulty in fitting it into an already busy summer schedule.

The change came two years ago, when the 2017 edition came to St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota, the site of the traditional Ole Chess camp run by a husband and wife duo, NM Kevin Bachler and Debbie Socha.

Starting on Friday afternoon, immediately following the camp's closing ceremony, the tournament had the convenience of being held in the same place, so I didn't even have to check out of my dorm room. (I recounted my experiences from that event at the time.)

Caveman chessFast-forward two years and the same thing happened again, only this time the venue was North Central College in Naperville, Illinois. The event was held at the Wentz Concert Hall on campus. Located just 30 miles (ca. 48 km) west of Chicago, Naperville is a nice little town complete with a river walk and numerous bars and restaurants. This was the second year Kevin Bachler held his camp there. Caveman Chess it is!

The usual suspects, GMs Gregory Kaidanov, Yuri Shulman, Alexander Goldin, Dmitry Gurevich, (my wife) Camilla Baginskaite and yours truly comprised the instructors core, and then at the end of the week, Dmitry and I stayed on for the 2019 U.S. Senior Open.

Organizer Kevin Bachler and Arbiter Glenn Panner

Two short days later this is how things stood:

No. Name Elo Pts Rnd1 Rnd2 Rnd3 Rnd4 Rnd5 Rnd6
1 Gurevich, Dmitry 2385 5.5 W41 W34 W17 W29 D2 W13
2 Benjamin, Joel 2524 5.0 W76 W33 W11 W18 D1 D3
3 Yermolinsky, Alex 2504 5.0 W77 W21 D10 W22 W12 D2
4 Eckert, Doug 2123 5.0 W78 W36 D13 W28 D6 W18
5 Jhunjhnuwala, Krishan 2341 4.5 W65 W32 L18 D20 W33 W22
6 Bereolos,Peter 2178 4.5 W66 W44 D12 W19 D4 D10
7 Dougherty, Michael 2140 4.5 D42 W56 W49 L12 W39 W29
8 Szpisjak, Steven J 2061 4.5 W51 W23 L29 W24 W34 D14
9 Vanmeter, Lester UNR 4.5 W54 W24 D31 D14 D29 W27
10 Dandridge, Marvin 2101 4.5 W68 W25 D3 D31 W44 D6

...104 players — view complete standings

Everything was decided in the last round. Gurevich had to win on demand to clinch the title, and he managed.


Top two boards before round 5

(L-to R) Joel Benjamin, Chip Kraft, Dmitry Gurevich

Congratulations, Dmitry! With this success he also earned a spot in the next year's U.S. Senior Invitational. In order to get an idea how senior chess is taking off (at just about the right time for your favourite author) one needs to check out Alexey Root's report.

Gurevich gets a plaque

Chief Arbiter Glenn Panner hands out the championship plaque to GM Dmitry Gurevich

Five days from now an inaugural U.S. Senior Invitational begins in St. Louis. This is a warm-up game by the two of the participants,


Joel Benjamin

GM Joel Benjamin was the tournament's top seed

Joel played a couple of nice games which he generously offered for this article. I think both are very instructive and indicative of how Grandmasters outplay less sophisticated opponents.


To conclude this report I'd like to offer a little bonus coverage. Parallel with the Senior Open, a U.S. Junior Open was held. 15-year old Christopher Shen (Elo: 2283) upset Zhaozhi Li (2395) in round 5 to take first place and qualify for the U.S. Junior Invitational. Below is the game annotated by the winner!


Christopher Shen

Well done, Christopher! Thanks to Maret Thorpe for running the Junior!

US Junior participants

More participants of the Junior Open


Yermo is enjoying his fifties. Lives in South Dakota, 600 miles way from the nearest grandmaster. Between his chess work online he plays snooker and spends time outdoors - happy as a clam.


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