2016 Utah Speed Championship

By Jonathan Whitcomb

Chess Grandmaster Troff wins by four points in the open section

Fourteen wins in as many games—that gave 17-year-old Kayden Troff a clear victory at the University of Utah, on Saturday, February 27, 2016, in the open section of the Utah Speed Championship. Bryan Leaño placed second with 10 points from his 14 games, and Matthew Boren got 9 points. Thirteen players competed in that section.

In USCF Blitz ratings, no other chess player in Utah is within 400 points of Kayden, who stands at 2536. He’s #29 in the United States for that kind of speed chess.

Grandmaster Kayden Troff (right)

It was no surprise that the GM Kayden Troff (right) won first place

In addition to that one international grandmaster, one national master and four 1st-category players competed in the open section (USCF designations). Nine of the thirteen had a Blitz rating of over 1800, and one of the four others was unrated.

Jamie Olsen-Mills was the only female contestant. She won a few games but found the highest-rated players (1906-2093) more challenging: She finished with a games-score of 4-8. Because she had a bye in round five (giving her two points), she got a final score of 6.

Both sections of the tournament were with double games, meaning that when two players are paired in a round then they played two games, alternating white and black.

Because the open section had an odd number of players, full-point byes were given to one player in each round. (A player with a bye does not play chess in that round.) The persons with the lowest ratings, or unrated, were given the 2-point byes.

Chess clocks were set at game-in-four-minutes, with 2-second increments, for both sections of the tournament.

Reserve section (U-1500)

Vahan Kardzhyan won first place in the reserve section, scoring 8-2, two points ahead of the three players who tied for second: Matthew Larson, Charles (Chip) Evans, and Henry Chen. Larson got the tie-breaker edge for the second-place trophy. Six players competed in that section, with ratings from 408 to 1281.

top players in the Reserve section

In the Reserve section, Larson (left) got 2nd place, and Kardzhyan (right) got 1st place

The youngest competitor in the 2016 Utah Speed Championship tournament was 7-year-old Jerry Zheng, who played in the reserve section.

Zheng played in the Reserve section

Jerry Zheng (right) with his little brother – might they both compete next year?

Many more players could have participated, but a number of other chess tournaments were held in Utah on that Saturday. Perhaps next year we’ll see more players compete in the state speed championship.

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