Chess Tournament in Utah

By Jonathan Whitcomb, author of the book Beat That Kid in Chess

I was delighted to witness the Speed Championship of Utah this past Saturday, February 27, 2016, at the University of Utah. Nineteen Blitz players competed in two separate divisions of the chess tournament, most of them in the open section (in which most of the players had much higher ratings than those in the reserve section).

But chess beginners may be more interested in the reserve section, in which lower rated players competed. Jerry Zheng was the youngest, at seven years old, and he had the lowest rating (408 for regular-speed games rated by the United States Chess Federation).

What is Blitz chess? The Utah Speed Championship used time control to make very fast games, yet the chess-clock rules differed from some forms of Blitz, for a two-second increment was used: Two seconds were added to each player’s clock when it was his/her turn to move. In each game, each player started with four minutes on the clock.

speed chess tournament in Utah

Six players competed in the reserve section of the tournament

In the above image, Brendon Young (near-left) is making a move. After finishing that move, he’ll push the lever on his side of the red chess clock. His opponent is Vahan Kardzhyan, who ended up winning this section of the tournament.

Final Standings in the Reserved Section (with ratings)

  • Vahan Kardzhyan (1281):          8.0
  • Matthew C. Larson (1003):       6.0
  • Charles (“Chip”) Evans (1170): 6.0
  • Henry Chen (882):                      6.0
  • Brendon Young (954):                4.0
  • Jerry Zheng (408):                       0.0

This chess tournament had double rounds, meaning that when two players are paired to play each other they play two games, alternating the colors of the pieces. Both sections were Swiss system, but the reserved section resembled a round robin, for each of the six players eventually played each of the others.

With the lower-ranked players, Vahan Kardzhyan got eight points, out of a possible ten, putting him two full points ahead of the second-place finishers. Matthew Larson, with six points, slipped ahead of two other players (through tie-break rules) who also had six points, giving him the second-place trophy.

digital chess clock

One of the digital chess clocks used in this tournament at the University of Utah

Final Standings in the Open Section (with ratings)

  • Kayden Troff (2536):       14.0
  • Bryan Leaño (2093):       10.0
  • Matthew Boren (1931):     9.0
  • Alexander Gustafsson (1872):  8.5
  • Alex Hall ((1890):              8.5
  • Stephen Gordon (1906):   7.5
  • Josh Smith (2056):            7.5
  • Frank Rockwood (1647):  7.0
  • Charles Rasmussen (1597):  6.0
  • Jamie Olsen-Mills (1883):    6.0
  • Adam Stevenson (unrated)   6.0
  • Jeffery Scott (1893):           6.0
  • Grant Hodson (1610):        2.0

Kayden Troff, at seventeen years old, is the highest rated chess player in the state of Utah, so it was no surprise that he won this tournament. He won the open section with a perfect score: 14 wins in 14 games.

Grandmaster Kayden Troff after the tournament

Grandmaster Kayden Troff (left) plays an informal speed game after the tournament

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Chess Tournament at the University of Utah

Grandmaster Kayden Troff won the tournament, in the open section, with a perfect score: 14-0. The second place finisher was four points behind the young grandmaster: Bryan Leaño at 10-4.

New Chess Book for the Beginner

You may soon find yourself looking at a chess position a little more like a grandmaster would look at it (but not in great depth of tactics nor in great breadth of strategy: in basic understanding of what is immediately possible). Yet you decide how far and how fast you’d like to progress.

Best book for the early beginner

According to the introduction in Beat That Kid in Chess, “If you know the chess rules but almost nothing about how to win, this book is for you.”

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Comparing three chess books

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