Dreev dominates, Gabuzyan dragoons

by Elshan Moradiabadi
10/24/2018 – The St. Louis Fall Chess Classic has become a regular fixture on the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis calendar. Grandmaster ELSHAN MORADIABADI reports on both Groups A and B which had record-breaking average Elo fields fighting for USD $36,000 in prize money in the US "chess capital". Alexei Dreev (pictured left) and Hovannes Gabuzyan emerged victorious after nine rounds of play. | Photos: Austin Fuller

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St. Louis Fall Chess Classic

These days a large number of top events make following top-level chess an easy task for chess fans! Numerous top-level tournaments in different formats with high-quality commentary and online coverage are available on a weekly basis. Despite their exciting nature, these elite events entail a lot of draws, predictable opening outcomes and sometimes boring positions to follow for amateur players and spectators. A lot of chess fans and even strong players argue in favour of events where elite players blend with less-known or even much lower rated opponents, events in which sudden errors and risk-taking provide room for spectacle and brilliance. 

Furthermore, many average chess professionals crave a round-robin tournament where they can battle with players of their own level and perhaps demonstrate the skills to win and — with any luck — move to a higher tier in the chess hierarchy.

On top of several elite events organised by the Saint Louis Chess Club (think US championship, Sinquefield Cup, Champions Showdown, etc..), the seasonal "Classics" for 2600+ and 2500+ players fit the bill.

playing hall

In the CCSCSL "boardroom" Jon Ludwig Hammer is one of the hopefuls | Photo: Austin Fuller

The pair of "Fall Classic" tournaments at the chess club took place from October 10th to 18th, and both the 'A' and 'B' tournaments saw what looks to be the highest rating average ever at this series with 2651 and 2501 respective rating averages.

The two events had a total prize fund of USD $36,000 with $6,000 for first place in the A group and $4,000 for the first place in the B group. While the A group was composed of GMs with rating 2620 and above, the B group had eight GMs one IM and one FM. Two young talents, 12-year-old FM Christopher Yoo from California and IM Brandon Jacobson from New York completed a field led by GM Hovhanes Gabuzyan, the Armenian GM who plays for the UTRGV college team.

Christopher and Young Yoo

Christopher Yoo with his father Young Yoo | Photo: Austin Fuller

Ben Simon and Eric Rosen

The commentary was led by CCSCSL staff member Ben Simon and "resident GM" IM Eric Rosen | Photo: Austin Fuller

Rather than spending most of this article reflecting on the trend of events, I would like to share the critical games and moments.

Group A

In the A group, things were rather smooth for the most experienced player GM Alexy Dreev. The Russian, who is known for his deep opening knowledge, scored 6½ points (four wins, five draws, no losses) with a coveted TPR of 2818. After him, the Cuban GM Lazaro Bruzon scored a healthy +2, after suffering two losses in his first three games! Aleksandr Lenderman and Yuriy Kuzubov were the other two players whose 5 out of 9 placed them in a tie for the third place.

Rank Name Fed. Rating 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Score
1 GM Dreev, Aleksey RUS 2649 x 1  ½  1  1  ½  ½  1  ½  ½  6.5
2 GM Bruzon Batista, Lazaro CUB 2653 0  x 1  ½  1  0  ½  1  ½  1  5.5
3 GM Kuzubov, Yuriy UKR 2652 ½  0  x ½  1  ½  1  1  ½  0  5.0
4 GM Lenderman, Aleksandr USA 2630 0  ½  ½  x ½  1  0  1  1  ½  5.0
5 GM Robson, Ray USA 2682 0  0  0  ½  x ½  1  ½  1  1  4.5
6 GM Akobian, Varuzhan USA 2641 ½  1  ½  0  ½  x ½  ½  0  1  4.5
7 GM Hammer, Jon Ludvig NOR 2662 ½  ½  0  1  0  ½  x 0  ½  1  4.0
8 GM Hansen, Eric CAN 2629 0  0  0  0  ½  ½  1  x 1  1  4.0
9 GM Sethuraman, S.P. IND 2673 ½  ½  ½  0  0  1  ½  0  x ½  3.5
10 GM Swiercz, Dariusz POL 2669 ½  0  1  ½  0  0  0  0  ½  x 2.5

Here are a number of important moments and positions from this event Games from Fall classic A.

 

Hansen and Robson

Eric Hansen took time out from being a "brah" to play some OTB chess, here vs Robson | Photo: Austin Fuller

Group B

In Group B however, it was all about Gabuzyan. In fact, after seven rounds the Armenian was on 6/7 leading the event by two full points! Maybe he was too complacent or just underestimated his next opponent, who was struggling, but Gabuzyan lost his eighth-round game to GM Akshat Chandra, himself a new member of St. Louis University chess team. As it turns out, this loss had no effect on the final outcome as I drew with GM Ashwin Jayaram from India left us still 1½ points behind Gabuzyan. Thus, the Armenian clinched the tournament with one round to spare.

In the final round, Ashwin and I were joined by GM Steven Zierek in a tie for second, two points behind Gabuzyan — who defeated Yoo.

Rank Name Fed. Rating 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Score
1 GM Gabuzyan, Hovhannes ARM 2592 x ½  1  1  ½  1  0  1  1  1  7.0
2 GM Moradiabadi, Elshan USA 2534 ½  x 1  ½  ½  0  ½  1  ½  ½  5.0
3 GM Zierk, Steven USA 2506 0  0  x ½  1  1  ½  1  ½  ½  5.0
4 GM Ashwin, Jayaram IND 2495 0  ½  ½  x ½  1  1  ½  ½  ½  5.0
5 GM Azarov, Sergei BLR 2565 ½  ½  0  ½  x ½  1  0  1  ½  4.5
6 GM Holt, Conrad USA 2561 0  1  0  0  ½  x 1  ½  1  0  4.0
7 GM Chandra, Akshat USA 2471 1  ½  ½  0  0  0  x 0  1  1  4.0
8 GM Boros, Denes HUN 2439 0  0  0  ½  1  ½  1  x 0  1  4.0
9 FM Jacobson, Brandon USA 2443 0  ½  ½  ½  0  0  0  1  x 1  3.5
10 FM Yoo, Christopher Woojin USA 2402 0  ½  ½  ½  ½  1  0  0  0  x 3.0

Here are important moments and positions from this event:

 

Moradiabadi

Elshan Moradiabadi (watching the game Azarov vs Holt) survived a sinus infection en route to a tie for second | Photo: Austin Fuller

All commentary webcasts

Click or tap the upper left menu icon to select a video from the playlist

All games of Group A

 

All games of Group B

 

Links




Elshan Moradiabadi is a GM born and raised in Tehran, Iran. He moved to the US in 2012. Ever since, he has been active in US college chess scenes and in US chess. is a veteran instructor and teaches chess to every level, with students ranging from beginners to IM. He can be contacted for projects or teaching.
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