BEN BAILEY WINS FIRST STATE CHAMPIONSHIP!
Dex Webster takes second straight Blitz Championship
In one of the largest state championships in many years, sixty-nine players converged on the New Orleans Airport Hilton over Labor Day weekend to compete in the 2015 Louisiana State Championship. Coming into the tournament, second seed NM Ben Bailey had done just about everything in Louisiana chess in 2015; he won the Pro-Am, won the strong FIDE rating invitational, and gotten his rating over 2250. However, there was one thing that had eluded him over the years---the state championship. After two days, it was still an open question whether he would finally get the breakthrough and take home the title. He was still in contention, but only at 4/5 following a second round draw with Clay Polk and a fifth round draw against two-time champion Adam Caveney. Furthermore, the top-seeded five-time champion James Rousselle was tied for first at 4.5/5, and playing a well lower-rated David Gaston (also at 4.5/5) on Board 1. To make matters tougher, Caveney was playing and even further lower-rated Jerome York on board 3, and if things went according to seed, he would have to play Rousselle in the final round because he was higher rated than Caveney, meaning that he could still lose the title on tie-breakers even if he won both his last two games.
Then the sixth round happened. Bailey took care of his business, beating Gary Bailey solidly. Caveney played into a pet gambit of York’s, played it horribly (there are many better words to describe his play, but none are publishable), and York duly converted. In perhaps a bigger surprise, Gaston took down Rousselle on Board 1. All of the sudden, the road to the title had opened up for Bailey. He was facing Gaston on Board 1 and just needed to win because the only other player who could catch him was York, and York’s tie-breakers, unlike Caveney’s, were not going to top his. York, in any case, lost to Dex Webster in the final round. By taking down Gaston in the final round, Bailey completed his domination of Louisiana chess in 2015 with his first state title with an undefeated score of 6-1!
Right behind Bailey, Dex Webster, Nick Matta, and Gaston tied for second with scores of 5.5-1.5. Gaston took the top U2000 prize for his fine effort that included an upset of Webster. York took the U1800 prize with a score of 5-2. With an upset of Fred Boerman in the final round, Zachary Couvillion won the U1600 prize with a score of 4-3. Gabriel Jones Mitchell took the U1300 prize with a score of 3-4, which was a very strong result for a player rated under 1300 in this strong field.
The state blitz championship was held on Saturday night. Despite being a relatively slow player in long chess, Dex Webster’s blitz game is very strong, and he won his second straight blitz title with relative ease. He finished at 12.5-1.5 in the seven round double swiss, and managed to go undefeated with only two draws against Atul Kannan and one draw with Bailey. Kannan and Nick Matta tied for second with scores of 10-4.
Congratulations to new state champion Bailey and blitz champion Webster! Great performances by both! The LCA offers special thanks to Jean Troendle, Korey Kormick, and the entire Cajun Chess crew for organizing and directing an excellent tournament. Full details of the tournament, with some games, will be included in the next bulletin.