Kovalenko, Pantsulaia and Martirosyan win Winter of Washington Online Tournament

by Emil Anka
1/6/2021 – The Pacific Northwest Chess Center (PNWCC) wants to make chess more popular and wants to give chess players opportunities to play and to improve. Before corona the PNWCC was organising a lot of live events, during the pandemic the Chess Center organises attractive and strong online tournaments. At the end of last year, the Winter of Washington tournament was played, a nine-round online tournament. Igor Kovalenko, Levan Pantsulaia and Haik Martirosyan shared first with 7.0/9 each.

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Wow for the WOW!

The 2nd Winter of Washington (WOW) tournament ended with a 3-way tie: Igor Kovalenko, Levan Pantsulaia and Haik Martirosyan shared first with 7.0/9, finishing ahead of strong grandmasters such as Jeffery Xiong, Pavel Ejanov, Baadur Jobava and Vladimir Fedoseev.

This 9-round online tournament was organized by the Pacific Northwest Chess Center (PNWCC), and was held between December 26-28 on Chess.com. To provide the maximum security and fairness that online chess can offer, Skype and Zoom connections have been used under supervision of multiple Tournament Directors (TDs), fortified with extra volunteers. With other words, so many eyes (that can compete with monarch butterflies) from so many different angles were permanently watching the fairness of the games.

There were a total of 3 sections: Master (2200+), Challenger (1700-2199) and Booster (U1700), but they all played with a time control of G60+5. In the Masters after the first day (3 rounds) only Jobava, Pantsulaia, and GM Manuel Petrosyan had a perfect 3/3 score.

After the second day (3 more rounds) Petrosyan led with 5.5/6, followed by Pantsulaia with 5.0/6 and six players with 4.5 points. In round 6 an unfortunate mouse slip led to a quick loss for Timur Gareyev (he wanted to play Qd1xd8+ but dropped his queen on d7). But after the dramatic third and final day Kovalenko and Martirosyan had joined Pantsulaia at the top and shared first. Nine players with 6.0/9 shared 4th to 12th places)!

Top boards of last round in action

Thanks to the organizers, and especially to Xuhao He, ‘the main engine’ of the tournament, PNWCC was founded in 2018, Kirkland, WA, United States. At that time, virtually no Grandmasters were playing in the Greater Seattle area, and PNWCC has been pivotal in changing this in the last two years.

They invited strong Grandmasters and titled players from all over the world, organizing tournaments, lectures and chess camps. The club was a buzzling hub for chess fans, but due to the pandemic its location had to be temporarily closed in the summer of 2020.

But the PNWCC adapted quickly and organized a number of online events. With strong measures against cheating (including, compulsory screen sharing, multiple camera angles and audio requirements) and classical time controls, it gained the trust of many GMs, IMs and other players from all over the world.

The events went smoothly without any technical issues. The PNWCC has established a tradition of WOW (Winter of Washington) and SOS (Summer of Seattle) tournaments, to wow and save many chess souls. The 2020 version of the Summer of Seattle tournament was an invitational online classical tournament in which players such as Mamedyarov, Xiong, Le and Fedoseev took part.

The work to PNWCC is a promising sign for the future. Young players from the US and around the world as well as many other chess lovers have chances to improve in such a great environment.

The winners of the Winter of Washington 2020:

GM Igor Kovalenko 7.0/9 points: 6 wins, 1 loss, 2 byes.  He demonstrated what fighting spirit means, and this is exactly what chess lovers want to see! Another proof that chess is a tough sport! After winning in round 1, he lost a winning position in round 2: 


But Kovalenko fought back and in the next 7 rounds he scored 6 points (2 byes and 5 wins)! In round 8 he won a crucial game against Pavel Eljanov:


GM Haik Martirosyan 7.0/9 points: With finished with 5 wins and 4 draws and with three quick grandmaster draws showed very professional time and energy management. His most remarkable game is his win against Jeffrey Xiong in the last round.


GM Levan Pantsulaia 7.0/9 points. He scored 5 wins and 3 draws, and took a bye in the last round to finish with 7.0/9. It is fun to watch and to analyze how he plays 1. g3 with White, and the Modern Benoni with Black. In round 2 he won an important game against Vladimir Fedoseev.


Some other highlights of the tournament

IM Andrew Hong beat Jobava in a short game:


The game E. Postny – R. Shlyakhtenko saw a great attack by Black:


The game Parham Maghsoodloo – Andrew Hong also had a nice finish:


PNWCC - WOW (Winter of Washington): Master (2200+) -- Final Standings:

71 players (35 GMs) started in the Master section.

The winner of the Challengers was Youhe Huang with 7.5/9 points (35 players). Lefan Yang won the Boosters with 8.0/9 points.

Congratulations to all players for participating from all over the world and from different time zones!

We are looking forward to more PNWCC events, and hopefully we will soon meet in person soon in OTB-tournaments!


Pacific Northwest Chess Center

Emil Anka is a Grandmaster who was born in Hungary, but lives in Kirkland, WA State. He is an International Arbiter, a certified Chess Coach, and the founder of Chesssport.com. In 2010 he moved to the US to improve chess at the Pacific Northwest.


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