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November 4, 2009 > Smail wins open chess tourney

Smail wins open chess tourney

Submitted By Kenneth Zowal
Photos By William Mancebo

Chess players from across Northern California gathered in Fremont the weekend of October 17-18 to play in the 2009 Fremont Open chess tournament, held at the Fremont Adult School.

Players aged in range from 8 to 70-plus years, and came from as far away as Yountville, Modesto and San Luis Obispo. This was the third-largest tournament sponsored by the New Fremont Chess Club since August, 2008.

The Open A Section first prize was taken by John Smail of Berkeley; B Section prize was captured by Nelson Sowell, who drove in from Oakland; Reserve winner was Raymond Drummer from Bay Point, and the Unrated trophy went to Fremont's Jeffery Chang.

A total prize fund over $1,800 was distributed to the winners. Smail's accomplishments were highlighted by a win and a draw against two higher-rated players. Sowell was the second-highest rated player in his section, and his win was likely, barring an upset, as was the case with Drummer.

Two upsets occurred when local Master Ricardo DeGuzman fell in his first game to the efforts of A-player Farid Watson. The second upset came when Croatian Master Matt Sertic was overcome by Jack Zhu, another A-player, in the second round.

The final game of the tournament, in the fourth round, was an exciting cliffhanger when Samuel Sevian was able to play his last 20 moves with less than 16 seconds on his clock, to pull off a win against Jack Zhu, who had over 20 minutes left.

The New Fremont Chess Club is open Friday nights from 8-11 p.m., in the Fremont Cultural Arts Council conference room, located at 3375 Country Drive, near Washington High's Tak Fudenna Stadium. USCF-rated, four-round Swiss System club tournaments are held roughly every other month, with casual and Blitz games taking up the slack during off months.

For more information, contact New Fremont Chess Club Director Ken Zowal at 510-623-9935 or

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