2009 Strongest Club Championship Ever?
By Rick Aeria January 31st, 2008
The new year brings one of the San Diego Chess Club's most exciting and popular, by virtue of participation, event: The Alina Markowski Qualifying Tournament for the SDCC Championship. This is one big open Swiss format of seven (7) rounds to determine the candidates that will vie for the coveted title of club champion. The format has evolved over the last 30-odd years to its current incarnation.
In the preceding year, four events were identified to seed one player directly to the club final. They were:
(1) The prior year's club championship winner. In 2008 it was NM Ron Bruno.
(2) The San Diego County Championship which was won by NM Peter Graves.
(3) The Fall Swiss which was won by IM Felix Villarreal.
(4) The winner of the Open Section of "The Masters" which was Expert (and former NM) Dimitry Kishinevsky.
These four qualifiers await twelve (12) other players who will try to qualify through the upcoming "Markowski Qualifier" starting on January 7th, 2009.
In the past, IM Cyrus Lakdawala achieved a near dynastic dominance of the club championship winning the event in 21 of his 23 tries. The two instances where Cyrus faltered was when his brother Jimmy Lakdawala, then a senior master (2400+) took first and in 1989 when NM Carl Wagner won. So it is with more than a little justification that the club final has been renamed the Cyrus Lakdawala Championship.
Looking back at the past events, Cyrus Lakdawala faced some tough competition from the likes of NM Todd Smith, NM David Hart, SM Valdis Salespurens, NM Carl Wagner, NM Tom Nelson, NM Mark Saylor, NM Robert Richard, NM Petranovich, NM Gustavo Hernandez, NM Bruce Baker, NM Tony Davis and SM Richard Russell to name a few.
This coming year, just the four qualifiers Bruno, Graves, Villarreal and Kishinevsky promise to make this one of the most entertaining and exciting championships. Add the likehood (barring historic collapses like the Denver Broncos of recent memory) quality players like NM Bruce Baker, NM David Hart, NM Todd Smith, NM Carl Wagner and the ever-popular expert Carey Milton joining the mix.
Speaking of experts, never forget expert and ex-club champion in 2007 John Funderburg who plays stultifying chess in the finals (2007 and 2008) or the evergreen expert (and former NM) Leonard Sussman. Expert George Ziegler has the potential for winning this event and so does expert Jim Humphrey. Expert Mario Amodeo has his supporters but I imagine Mario would enjoy the role of spoiler just as well. Talk about spoilers - there was never one more significant than Brad Salz! In 2006, Brad denied Carl Wagner by winning on time forfeit in the last round. After 17 years Carl Wagner came within a few seconds of his cherished goal! Will expert (and former NM and club champion in 2005) Adam Corper ever return to chess? Or maybe someone like expert Eric Montany, James Mahooti or Dan Altimirano will make a run at the championship.
From the Mexican contingent, aside from IM Felix Villarreal, experts Ignacio Sainz, Ron Soto, Mariano Lozano and Manuel Herrera are not to be taken lightly. But the Mexicans face a constant logistical handicap having to cross the border and fight traffic to get to the club, so let's try be more understanding when they arrive a little late. My favorite is feisty Fausto Robles a gamer and scrapper if ever there was one.
So we wait to see how the saga of the 2009 championships will unfold. It is not unlikely that a 'Class-A' could win it. After all, Mark Aiken (now Mark Knight) tied for first with Cyrus in his first championship. I'm so excited awaiting this upcoming championship I don't know whether to get my popcorn popper going or start studying my Philidor Defence!
Come out and be a part of the excitment and rich heritage of the San Diego Chess Club!