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MACA Chess Horizons Magazine Article
 Brattain Triumphant at 83rd Mass Open
 Nathan Smolensky
  August 2014

GM Alexander Ivanov (above) did not attend the 77th Mass Open, held in 2008. Since missing that tournament, though, the Grandmaster went on to have at least a share of first place in five consecutive iterations of the tournament, an outright domination. 

But all reigns must come to an end, and so too did this one, at the climax of one of the more exciting Mass Opens in recent memory. Heading into round 4, GM Ivanov was in the lead as usual after a draw with the second seed in the tournament, IM Igor Foygel. He was due white against the fifteen-year-old Mika Brattain, whom he had beaten in the final round of the 82nd Mass Open to seal that tournament. But this was not to be a successful weekend for the status quo:

Brattain’s work wasn’t done there, of course. But a fifth-round victory over the other reigning co-champion, Robert Perez, left Brattain needing only a draw against Denys Shmelov to guarantee clear first. Shmelov, however, had taken quite the odd journey to make it to the top board in the last round, having suffered the biggest upset of the championship section in round 1, a loss to Andrew Hoy, whose 2158 rating was 304 points short of Shmelov’s.
Positioned firmly behind the 8-ball, Shmelov would have to win his next four games to have a reasonable shot at prizes, but that was exactly what he did, with a victory with the black pieces against a strong master needed along the way (as one would expect): 

With that run and the final-round draw against Brattain, Shmelov would end up sharing 2nd-4th place with GM Ivanov and Christopher Chase.

Elsewhere in the Championship section, eyes were on the talented youth in the building, including visiting New York resident NM David Brodsky, one of the top 11 year-olds in the country. Brodsky certainly made his presence felt at the tournament, earning a draw against the eventual champion in the second round (the only points scored against Brattain in the first five rounds) and against IM Foygel in the eventful fourth round. The youngster would finish with three points out of six against one of the toughest fields in the tournament, and winning the Most Interesting Game prize in the process, which you can read more about on page 25. 
A wild U2100 section ended up being the only adult section without a player earning 5 out of 6 or more. Five players – Luis Baez Rosario, John Vaughan, Brett Kildahl, Peter Korzeb, and Aashish Welling – finished knotted at the top with 4.5/6. None would reach this finish without going through at least one of the others, leading to a great number of exciting games, including the round 4 showdown between Baez-Rosario and Kildahl, then clamoring for sole control of the three-day section: 

The U1800 would have yet another crowded podium, with Sandra Shur, Robert Stewart, Mark David Buckles, and Christopher Estremera sharing tops in the group with 5/6. Impressively, all of these players with the exception of Stewart came in to the tournament with a rating under 1655, and collected over a hundred rating points on their road to victory. A quieter U1500 section was won outright by unrated Rahul Kumar, the only player in the section to garner five points. 

As usual, the weekend-long open events were boosted by a series of day-long scholastic sections. Six such tournaments, ranging from K12 U1500 to the K3 U400, were held at the Marlborough Best Western. A total of 225 players of all ages would make this one of the best-attended state championships on MSA record. ?

Shoutouts to Tony Cortizas, best chess photographer in New England and the person who took all the photos.