On Chess: 2015 Thanksgiving Open is a feast for top players and amateurs alike

Nov 25, 2015

The Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis’ premier open event of the season is this weekend, Nov. 27-29. The 2015 Thanksgiving Open will showcase a $10,000 guaranteed prize fund and challenge participants in six grueling rounds of G/90 + 30s/move in top-level action.

This event will draw big names from both the local and national chess scene and is rivaled only by the St. Louis Open for biggest Chess Club Open tournament of the year.

The 2014 edition of the Thanksgiving Open boasted a $4,000 guaranteed prize fund as well as a surprise guest participant of none other than the legendary, six-time U.S. Chess Champion, Grandmaster Walter Brown. A few lucky players had the chance play the man that practically owned American Chess in the 1970s and early ‘80s; his six national championships remain second only to the eight won by Bobby Fisher.

No special guests have been announced yet this year, but with a prize fund that has more than doubled and world class chess programs including Webster and Lindenwood University next door, there is sure to be plenty of high-level representation.

An open tournament mixes amateurs and ranked players.
Credit Austin Fuller | Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis

This event is yet another in the Chess Club’s continued commitment to not only providing the highest level of chess (see The 2015 Sinquefield Cup) but equally impressive opportunities for amateurs like you and me. With advances in technology, watching your favorite players live over the internet has become common but how often do you get a chance to sit across the board from a legend like Walter Brown?

At the 2011 Thanksgiving Open, I had my own experience with an American chess great when I sat down across from GM Timur Gareyev, ranked #14 in America. I was just thrilled with the opportunity to get beat by such a high-rated player. This was great motivation, and I played my best. In fact, Timur told me after the game that if I had just “put my rook behind my A-pawn and pushed,” I would have had at least a draw.

Tragically, as often happens, the grandmaster won the game in the end but you better believe that I never forgot where rooks belong in the endgame again! With so much world class opposition coming out this weekend a similar story could be yours, or even better the same story with a different result!

If you’re still debating whether to come out to the Thanksgiving Open this weekend, stop! There will be a FIDE-rated Open section and an Under 2000 section. I will be fighting for the Under 2300 prize! Rounds will be at 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. on both Friday and Saturday, with the end at 12:30 p.m. and 4 p.m. Sunday. And one more time: $10,000 prize fund.

Nick Karlow is a national chess master currently studying Medicine at Washington University and an active member of the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis. He is an experienced tournament player and enjoys teaching chess to his private students.