NC Chess News

The Carolinas Chess Initiative sponsored the US Masters at the Embassy Suites near the Airport in Greensboro from August 27-31, 2015. This national championship event featured nearly two dozen grandmasters with 16 nations represented.US Masters.jpg

Brownsville, Texas based GM Yarolslav Zherebukh raced out to an early lead winning his first four rounds including wins over three other GMs: Gildardo Garcia, Mackenzie Molner,and US Open champion Alexander Shabalov. In round six though GM Joshua Friedel leapt over Zherebukh by defeating him and taking the outright lead.

Zherebukh pulled back even with Friedel in round seven by defeating IM Steven Zierk while Friedel could only manage a draw against 1996 vice-world champion Gata Kamsky. This event is significant for the fact that this may be the first time any who has competed in the finals of a world championship cycle has entered a tournament in North Carolina.

Zherebukh reclaimed sole first as he defeated GM Anton Kovalyov in round eight with 6.5 points. Half of a point behind were Kamsky, Cuban GM Isan Ortiz Suarez, and Lithuanian GM Aloyzas Kveinys. Zherebukh held Ortiz to a draw while Kveinys upended Kamsky to claim a share of first overall. Each player was rewarded with $4000 for their efforts, but the title of US Masters champion would be settled in an armagaedon blitz match which was won by Zherebukh.

Gauri Shankarm and Nicolas Checa each scored IM norms, while Virginia youngster Akshita Gorti earned her final WIM norm. NM Chris Mabe had the top performance of any North Carolina competitor with a 3+2=4- mark.


Coinciding with the US Master was the three-day long North Carolina Open held on the other side of the Embassy suites. A field of 216 players competed in four divisions for a guaranteed prize pool of $13000.

IM Jonathan Schroer was the odds on favorite to win the Open section and won each of his first three games before being held to draws by youngsters NM Aaron Balleisen and NM Steve Wang. The latter used the draw to tie Schroer for first while the former was squeezed by NM Daniel Cremisi in a technical endgame which allowed Cremisi to join the party in the winners’ circle.

The house got a little more crowded as David High and Florida based A-player Nikhil Kumar scored breakout performances to tie for first as well. Each of the five winners claimed a $460 payout.

Ballesien, Kevin Chen, Grant Oen, and Kevin Wang finished a half of a point behind the pace with 3.5 points.

Mark Biernacki and Paul King each shared first in the Under 2000 section with 4.5 points. They each received $750 for their efforts. Jordan Wood, Ishaan Maitra, Matt Embler, John Risk, and Jack Miklaucic all tied for third with 4 point scores.

Nick Schuch was the big money winner in the NC Open scoring a perfect 5+0=0- in the U1700 division. He pocketed a cool $1000 for his efforts. Evan Zhang came close to matching but one draw was the difference as he claimed the $500 prize for clear second. Travis Deere and Jeff McAdams shared 3rd and 4th with 4 points each.

Two players split the U1400 division with perfect scores. Mitchell Bennett and Chad Rickman each won all five games and deposited checks for $750. Matthew Elliott, Joshua Gambrell, and Justin Bailey followed a point behind to split 3rd-5th.

This tournament marked the final tournament as an organizer for Gary Newsom. Gary along co-organizer turned the North Carolina from a struggling event with declining attendance into the “Pearl of Dixie” with consistent turnouts of over 300 players. The NCCA would like to thank Gary for his efforts in elevating the profile of chess in North Carolina.


The NCCA will have a logo contest for it’s member starting after the North Carolina Open. Rules and regulations can be found on the NCCA message board. Click here to see the guidelines