A grand total of 45 of North Carolina’s finest came together in Henderson, North Carolina to compete for state titles and cash in the 2013 North Carolina Class Championship. When the last pawn was pushed and the last clock was punched, the following people took home the gold in their respective divisions: Top division and state co-champs: NM Carlito Agner and Matthew Wofford. Class A: Keith Carson. Class B: Wilder Wadford. Class C: Sahil Patel. Class D, E, Unr: Charlie Berry.
The tournament was contested at the Quality Inn in Henderson. I found the playing room to be better than adequate and the sleeping rooms to be adequate. Let’s face it, the Quality Inn is not the Ritz Carlton, but hey we’re there to play chess. The hotel was adequate for the purpose.
Now on to the chess. In the top section, several players were in contention. Jones, Giannatos and Dana in addition to the winners, who drew each other and Jones while winning the rest of their games. Here is a hard fought Rd 4 battle between Wofford and Jones (notes by Wofford):
Pat Sciacca provides his round 5 encounter with Wofford, which seems to show that it is difficult to win a state championhip. Wofford prevailed, but Sciacca definitely had his chances to be the spoiler. New state co-champ Agner probably played the steadiest chess of the weekend. He sends along three of his games: Keith Carson of Cary won the U2000 section with a score of 4-1. Here he annotates his fourth round win against Charles Pole. NC Hall of Fame member Wilder Wadford made a very successful return to competitive play after a 15 year hiatus, winning the U1800 with a 4-1 score. We all know and love Wilder for organizing one of the top tournaments in the US (Land of the Sky in Asheville). Here he shows us that he's still got it at the board with a nice win against Ramses Celestin. He promises more frequent appearances as a competitor in the future! U1600 winner Sahil Patel and U1400 winner Charlie Berry each scored 4.5 out of 5 in their respective sections, which tied them for the best score of the weekend.
That this tournament determined our state champs for the first time begs for a review of how we got here. It is, in my opinion, an idea whose time has come. We traditionally determined our state champ through the NC Open; our premier event. There was some logic to that but some legitimate reservations also. An open event necessarily means that out of staters have a say in who becomes our champion. One of them can win the event, in which case we have to give the title to the top finishing resident, or at the very least the out of staters can influence who does win, just by being there. So there was always some controversy in the old days…each year the organization would determine whether the event would be Open or Closed. The Open drew more players. The closed provided a more pure state champ. This changed during the Newsom/High administration as we grew the NC Open into a national event. If it made little sense to determine the state champ in an event where we might get a couple of masters from VA or GA like the old days, it certainly made no sense whatsoever to determine our state champ in an event that had many GM’s and titled players. So it was decided to convert the Invitational into the state championship, with a qualifier for the Invitational being the top NC player at the NC Open. I’ve got to say I never really felt real comfortable with that. It was a bit elitist and though it was still possible for a “dark horse” to win the title, it became highly unlikely due to the rigors of being the top qualifier at the Open and then having to win the Invitational.
So finally in 2013, we have come back around to a closed event. But this time from a position of strength. No longer is it a debate of ‘Open or Closed?’. Now there is an Open that has it’s place as the premier event on the calendar and the Closed which has the sole purpose of determining our state champ. Best of both worlds in my opinion. Now the only debate left is ‘do you allow anyone to play in the top section regardless of rating?’ In my opinion, the answer to that is yes. Anyone who is an NCCA member should have the opportunity to compete for the title. But taking it one step further, just because you have the right doesn’t mean it’s the right thing to do. I would advise that anyone less than expert think very hard before entering that top section.
All in all. this was an enjoyable event. We should probably move it to a larger more centralized city moving forward, and probably on a different date. But for those of you who chose not to go to Henderson this year, you missed out on a good weekend of chess!