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2010 Paul Morphy Open Sees Large Turnout, Strong Performances by Pujol and Karlsson

posted Aug 4, 2010, 7:41 AM by Alex Steger

by Adam Caveney

    A total of fifty players from five states descended upon the Holiday Inn Westbank in Gretna for the Paul Morphy Open on July 17th and 18th, the largest turnout in an adult chess tournament in Louisiana, other than state championships, in many years.  Not only were players from Mississippi, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia(!), the players from Louisiana hailed from all over the state, with players from New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Lafayette, and Shreveport competing.  For the first time anybody can remember, the organizer had to get an extra table from the hotel to accommodate all the players.   

      The play was highlighted by exceptional performances by two players seeded near the bottom of the Open Section.  Jordan Pujol, rated 1580, was eligible to play in the Reserve Section, but chose to play up in the Open Section.  Obviously, he knew more than his rating did about his level of play.  Pujol upset two A-players, Bijan Khaleghi and Jules LeBon, in the first two rounds before taking a third round bye because he had to work an overnight shift.  Then following work and a very minimal amount of sleep, Pujol upset a third A-player, Stephen Curry, and ended up playing for first place in the tournament on Board 1 in the final round against top-seeded Expert and reigning state champion Adam Caveney.  Pujol’s fine run almost did not end there, as Caveney played an uninspired opening, and Pujol had a winning position.  However, midnight struck near the end of the final round, and Caveney was able to pull out the game, and first place in the tournament, more through verve than actual good chess.  Despite the result of the final round, Pujol gained 135 rating points at the tournament, quite a remarkable accomplishment. 

      Not to be outdone, Fridrik Karlsson, originally from Iceland and currently living in Shreveport, started the tournament as a low seed, but finished at the top of the standings.  Karlsson lost to Expert Albert Franklin in the first round, but then rattled off four wins in a row to finish in a tie for second at 4-1.   

      In the Open Section, Caveney took first, while Alex Steger, David Huang, and Karlsson tied for second, first under 2000, and first under 1800.  Khaleghi recovered from his opening round loss to Pujol to take the prize for second under 2000, and Pujol took the prize for second under 1800. 

      In the Reserve Section, David C. Mooney took first place with a score of 4.5-0.5.  Hari Balakrishnan of Texas took the first place under 1400 prize with a score of 4-1.  Tying for second in the Reserve Section with scores of 3.5-1.5 were Martin Cooperson, Derek Planchet, and Michael Tisserand.  Jesse Gimble, a scholastic player playing in his first tournament, won the under 1200/unrated prize with an impressive 3.5-1.5 score.  The under 1000 prize was shared by Qiyu Han, Miles Tisserand, and Gareth Costanza, who all finished with a 3-2 score. 

      The next LCA tournament will be the 2010 Louisiana State Championship that will be held in Lafayette over Labor Day Weekend.  The previously scheduled Louisiana G/60 Championship has been cancelled. 

      Finally, a special thank you goes out to Alex Steger.  Steger directed the tournament and finished second in the tournament.  Unfortunately, it was Steger’s last tournament in Louisiana because he is moving to Tennessee at the end of July.  On behalf of all chess players in Louisiana, your humble (well sort of) author thanks Steger for all of the hard work Steger has performed for chess in Louisiana.