Ray Schutt Memorial

by admin on May 3, 2015

Today I played in a chess tournament with a difference — the 9th Annual Ray Schutt Memorial at the Mechanics Institute. It’s been a long time since I went to a tournament and just had fun. The Schutt Memorial is a blitz tournament, 4 minutes per game with a 2-second time increment. There’s no pressure and no rating points, but lots of other nice things. For starters, a $1000 prize fund, even though the entry fee is only $10. Not only that, every player wins a book. And between rounds, there is a generous table of refreshments.

schutt 1This was before round one. After round one they brought the pizza!

The event was organized by John Donaldson and the Schutt family in memory of Ray Schutt, a 2350-or-so player from Hayward. One player told me that Schutt “definitely would have been an IM” if he had hit his peak today instead of in the 1960s and 1970s, when there were very few opportunities for American masters to play for international titles.

schutt 2Two photos of Ray Schutt were on display in the break room.

The star of the show today was Daniel Naroditsky, who had just returned from the World Team Championship in Armenia, where he helped the United States team to a better-than-expected tie for fourth place with Russia. For Daniel the highlight of the tournament was his game with Dmitri Jakovenko, the first 2750 player he has ever beaten. His win against Jakovenko [at the team tournament] enabled the U.S to tie the match with Russia and really turned the tournament around for the American team.

schutt 3Daniel signing copies of his books that were offered as prizes.

I remember that just a few years ago, Danya would have been just about this same height if he stood up straight! It’s amazing how he has grown, both in height and as a chess player.

Danya was the clear favorite, outrating everyone else by close to 200 points, and he justified the rating by finishing first with a smooth 10½-1½ score. (The tournament had six rounds, with each round consisting of one game as White and one as Black.) I’m afraid that I didn’t write down the names of the other prize winners. I do know that an expert won fourth place, a major surprise in a tournament with three grandmasters and four international masters.

My own tournament result was, well, okay. I scored 6-6, with the highlight being a victory over IM Vladimir Mezentsev in the second round. In fact, I was crushing Mezentsev in both games, but I botched the first one and nearly botched the second one. But that is to be expected in blitz. It’s not my game, and so I really can’t complain about an even score.

Here’s a photograph of the action in the first round.

schutt 5Craig Mar (baseball cap) is watching the game between Andy Lee and William Li, Jr. Craig didn’t play in the tournament, claiming he’s “too rusty.” Lee beat Li, 2-0. It sounds cooler if you say it aloud instead of reading it. By the way, I think that the guy in the light blue shirt on the left side of the picture is James Critelli, who tied for second. (I know, I didn’t write down the names of the winners but I just remembered that Critelli was one of them.)

schutt 4Here’s a picture of Daniel Naroditsky’s father, Vladimir, talking with James Tarjan. Daniel and Tarjan played on board one in the last round. I believe that Tarjan needed to win 2-0 to pass Daniel, but it wasn’t in the cards. They drew the first game and then Daniel absolutely blew Tarjan away with an attack along the h-file in the second game. What can I say? Blitz, especially, is a young person’s game.

Speaking of young people, there were very few of them at this tournament, because it also happened to be the weekend of the state scholastic championship. So instead of getting 80 players with about 40 juniors, we had 50 players and only 3 juniors. It was weird. It was like a trip to the past, actually. That’s the kind of age distribution that tournaments used to have back in the 1970s and 1980s, but nowadays (in the Bay Area, at least) even the top sections of the “adult” tournaments are about a third juniors, and the lower sections are predominantly teens and pre-teens.

Thanks again to the Mechanics Institute and the Schutt family for a fun occasion!

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