The story of the 85th Massachusetts Open begins with GM Alexander Ivanov. The manytime champion was coming off a clear title in 2015 and at least a share of first in six of the last seven iterations of the event. He was seeded first by comfortably over a hundred points.
This was not to be his weekend. The veteran Grandmaster had an uncharacteristically poor showing, enduring losses on all three days of the tournament, with two games ending in a fallen flag for Ivanov, albeit in lost positions.
Ivanov’s stumble opened a door of opportunity, and in rushed the Commonwealth’s chess elite. The field’s other titled player, IM David Vigorito (above, left) established a lead on the rest with the championship section’s sole 3-0 start. After a draw with FM Aravind Kumar in the fourth round, however, Vigorito would face the tournament’s two other unbeatens, and though two more draws would not be enough to relinquish his lead, it meant he would have to share the glory.
In the fifth round, Vigorito encountered longtime star pupil FM Mika Brattain (above, right), the tournament’s second seed. Brattain had already accumulated two draws by that point, but he capped off his tournament with a win over NM Grant Xu, a crucial result to catch up to the two players a half point ahead of him.
One of those players, of course, was IM Vigorito. But the other was NM Chris Williams, whose journey to the top was fraught with five higher-rated opponents: FM Kumar, FM David Brodsky, FM Chris Chase, FM Brattain, and finally IM Vigorito. But Williams delivered, with victories over Chase and Brodsky and hard fought draws against Brattain and Kumar. Finally, he hunkered down against Vigorito with the black pieces for a final half point to complete an impressive journey to a first Massachusetts state chess champion title.
With their formidable performances, Vigorito, Brattain, and Williams each earned a place on the Mass Open trophy, and a share of the 2016 state championship.
There was one more first place winner, however – an interloper from out of state. Young FM David Brodsky of New York overcame an early loss to NM Williams to amass three and a half points out of his first five rounds. His last round opponent was the same as Brodsky’s final round opponent from both 2014 and 2015 – GM Alexander Ivanov. But this time, the youngster bested his veteran opponent, adding to Ivanov’s nightmare tournament with a triumphant outing, and tying his score with the three champions’.
5th-6th in the championship section would be shared by FM Chris Chase and NM Grant Xu (above, left), whose road to the heat of contention included the following thrilling game against NM Siddharth Arun:
NM Grant Xu (2341)
Siddharth Arun (2184)
85th Massachusetts Open (3)
1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. Nd2 dxe4 4. Nxe4 Bf5 5. Ng3 Bg6 6. h4 h6 7. Nf3 Nd7 8. h5 Bh7 9. Bd3 Bxd3 10. Qxd3 e6 11. Bf4 Qa5+ 12. Bd2 Bb4 13. c3 Be7 14. c4 Qc7 15. O-O-O Ngf6 16. Kb1 O-O 17. Qe2 b5 18. c5 Rfd8 19. Rhe1 Nf8 20. Be3 Rd5 21. Rc1 N8d7 22. Nh4 Nh7 23. Rh1 Bf6 24. Qg4 Ng5 25. Ne2 Nf8 26. f4 Ngh7 27. Nf3 b4 28. Ne5 Rad8 29. Qf3 Nd7 30. Nd3 a5 31. g4 Be7 32. Qg2 f6 33. Qe4 Ndf8 34. Rhg1 Qb7 35. Ng3 Qd7 36. Ne2 Qb7 37. Rg2 Qd7 38. Rg3 Re8 39. Rg2 Bd8 40. Rcg1 Bc7 41. g5 f5 42. Qf3 hxg5 43. fxg5 e5 44. g6 Nf6 45. Nxe5 Bxe5 46. dxe5 Rexe5 47. Bg5 Ng4 48. Nc1 Ne6 49. Bf4 Re4 50. Rxg4 Rdd4 51. Rh4 Rxf4 52. Rxf4 Rxf4 53. Qe2 Qd5 54. Qa6 Nd8 55. Qc8 Rd4 56. Re1 Re4 57. Rf1 Re5 58. h6 Re6 59. Rg1 Qe4+ 60. Ka1 Qd4 61. Qc7 Re8 62. Rf1 a4 63. Rd1 Qf6 64. Rd6 Ne6 65. Rxe6
While all this drama unfolded in the top section, Morris Lainer (above, left) quietly took care of the U2100, putting up a spectacular 5.5/6 score for almost a hundred points of rating gained – he was rated only 1936 at the start of the event. U1800 honors were shared by Christopher Estremera and Bill Stein. In the U1500, young T.J. Fini of New York put up the only 6/6 of the tournament, rocketing his posttournament rating over 1600.
The 85th Massachusetts Open was held at Marlboro’s Best Western Royal Plaza hotel from May 28th through the 30th, 2016. An impressive total of 253 players participated in the adult and scholastic tournaments offered on the weekend.
For more on the champions’ impressive performances, be sure to check out IM David Vigorito’s analysis on page 14.
All photos courtesy Tony Cortizas