The Holiday Swiss concluded on December 21st and saw Wilton “Will” Webster and Craig Vieregg go 3.5 out of 4 to share first place. It was a Tale of Two Tournaments due to the accelerated pairing format and it would have been fun to see the two winners play each other had there been one more round. This was Craig’s second strong showing and no one is likely fooled anymore by his old 1517 rating from yesteryear. In only nine games over two SGVCC events he has gained 163 rating points!
Webster, on the other hand, was playing in his first SGVCC event and a bit of a chess enigma. A check of his USCF profile showed a near Master rating of 2143 based on only 23 games. Quite the affable fellow upon meeting him, the mystery became a bit clearer when he shared that he had a British Chess Federation rating from his days in college at Sussex and had put in a lot of work playing online games. Nevertheless, quite impressive. But his path to victory was anything but smooth. As he himself put it:
“One could also argue that the story line of my tournament was fighting on until things broke my way (drawing a losing position, winning a forcibly drawn position, and then winning two completely lost positions), but anyone who’s read my previous write-ups will already know that my proclivity toward swindling people after blundering is the rule, rather than the exception.”
Indeed! The two “completely lost positions” were in rounds 3 & 4, first against Raymond Armagnac (2159) and then NM Karl Tolentino. Raymond sacrificed material for a vicious attack but Will found a saving perpetual with his Queen. Never one to settle for the half point the “Big A” refused it and pushed on only to blunder later. In the final round Tolentino was up the exchange and again had what looked like an unstoppable mating attack. But Karl missed the one lone shot Black had with a knight check and resigned immediately. Such is chess.
A few other notable performances were David Faulkner, who won his last three games to finish at 3 points and 10 year old Ashley Lin. Lin went an undefeated 2.5 and earned draws against Class A player Nathan Gan and 1700+ rated David Munoz, raising her own rating from 1139 to 1320. Twenty eight players competed and not a bad turnout for an event in December. The Echo Mountain Open is currently underway.
Enjoy Will’s annotations: