ICA Fall 2008 Open Section Review
Posted: 10/22/2008 | Updated: 10/27/2008

ICA Coach Markzon’s Improbable Come From Behind Performance Nets 1st In 
Open Section Of 2008 ICA Fall Championships!


It didn’t matter that they were grander, and he was just grand, but the International Chess Academy’s own Gregory Markzon got the job done when it counted and took home the grandest prize of them all.  It was the first time that two fully accredited, and ratings approved grandmasters competed at the annual ICA Fall Championships, and if they ever want to gain revenge against Gregory at this venue in the future, we are sure it won’t be the last.


There were Forty-six competitors in the open section, all vying for the cool, and ultimately grandest prize of three hundred dollars that went along with winning first place, but it was Gregory Markzon’s consistency that reeled in that, the biggest catch of the day.  Of course we would be remiss if we didn’t mention that the luck of the draw had a lot to do with Gregory’s come from behind win as well.


From the beginning it was clear that Gregory, and GM’s Sergey Kudrin (whose daughter Bertina attends our camps btw), and Alexander Stripunsky, were head and shoulders above the rest of the well shampooed pack.  The only question that needed an answer, barring a miracle performance from a less developed player, was how the gold, silver, and bronze would be divided between the three above mentioned players.


For the first three rounds the top players held strong, winning every single game, though on tie-breaks coach Markzon was in 3rd because he had faced the weaker opposition.  In other words, though all three top players were winning their games, if that trend continued and all, or perhaps two ended up with a perfect score, the top player whose opponents in the previous rounds were stronger than the other players would pull ahead because he had to play better competitors.  After those three rounds GM Kudrin held the lead because of wins over the eventual 5th and 6th place finishers in the second, and third rounds. GM Stripunsky defended second with solid victories against the eventual 8th and 12th place finishers, while Gregory was looking to settle for third because his first and second round opponents would ultimately finish in 26th, and 20th places, respectively.  If all three men continued on the same course and faced off against most any other opponent, and as most would expect, won convincingly, the order would have been Kudrin-first, Stripunsky-second, and Markzon-third.


However, fate, that seldom seen mistress for a down on his luck gambaholic throwing his last 53 cents into a slot machine in Vegas, was on Gregory’s payroll on this day.  As it turned out, because Stripunsky and Kudrin held 1st and 2nd place, the computer was programmed to play a cruel joke on both and pit them against one another to see who is #1 in the last and final round.  It was as lucky a break as a player trailing in third place on tie-breaks but tied on wins with the first two plaers could expect.


Of course the result was not etched in stone yet, because a victory by either grandmaster would have given them the grand prize. But GM’s Stripunsky and Kudrin fought for entire 2 hours to a draw.


For his part, Gregory was given the task of beating the eventual tenth place finisher and did that without an apparent hitch.  Hence, because of consistency, and a little bit of random access memory programmed luck, Gregory Markzon actually outperformed two higher rated players, thus proving that you don’t always have to be the best ratings-wise in chess, because sometimes first place goes to the guy who is most consistent.


Other highlights from the Open section are as follows:


Yefim Treger tied both GM’s Kudrin, and Stripunsky with 3.5 out of 4 but finished in fourth on tie-breaks.  Each man took home his very own 150 dollars.  Marc Chri Nazario finished in eighth place and took home 100 dollars for being first among all open participants that had a rating of 2000 points or less.  Arthur Feuerstein did both Senator John McCain, and my grandpa proud, by finishing in 10th with 2.5 points out of 4, and taking home 75 dollars for being first among participants over the age of 65. Andrew Ding, phoned future college recruiters and put them all on hold, by taking 13th place, getting 2.5 out of 4 points, and using the 75 dollars he won for being 1st among open section participants under 13 years old, to take his parents out to dinner.   Finishing in 16th place, Ben Wolfson used the 50 dollars he won for being first among players with a rating of 1600 or less, to buy a Civil War chess set that represented General Ulysses S. Grant as a queen rather than President of the United States. Tim Hoang also got 50 bucks for being first among participants with a rating of 1800 or less, while Kevin Chen got 50 for being second among participants 1800 or lower, and Grant Oen got 50 for being second among players 1600 or under.

Thus ended another exciting installment of the ICA’s Open Section tournaments, with the next episode ready to begin production sometime in the winter. Stay tuned for updates on these and other developments, and also the rumors that Garry Kasparov will come out of retirement to participate in an upcoming ICA event, and remember since these are rumors that I completely made up, it is obvious that they are completely accurate and truthful.