Thursday, September 27, 2018

NBCC 3rd Q Report by Bob Cyr









by Robert Cyr



“Your body has to be in top condition. Your chess deteriorates
as your body does. You can’t separate body from mind.”

Bobby Fischer








The club started its third quarter of 2018 with its 3rd annual July Knockout and Swiss event. The ideas for this relatively new tournament were created by FM Nelson Castaneda. Players were initially grouped into one section (knockout bracket). After each round, the winner would advance in the knockout bracket. In the case of a draw, a two-game blitz match would have to be played to determine the winner of the match. If the draw persisted after the blitz match, then the person who played with black in the classical game would advance. Anyone eliminated or knocked-out would be placed into an open Swiss-style event. Many of the games from this tournament were analyzed by Nelson and are published with his extensive notes on the club website. The final round was won by Expert Suhas Kodali, who knocked-out Nelson to claim the title of the 2018 NBCC Knockout Champion, his first win in a major club event. Also winning classical time-controlled events for their first time were two strong class players, Andrew Cowell and Mario Guevara-Rodriguez, who tied for first place in the Swiss section. Many thanks for Nelson for directing and analyzing many of the interesting games, some of which I imagine will be nominations for the best game of the year contest.

Prior to the start of Nelson’s event, our community was stunned to hear about the passing of James Wilkin. During the event, we also received tragic news about the passing of John Baclawski, another veteran member. Details on both of their memorial events and their eulogies are published later in this report.



To honor the memory of Jimi Wilkin, the club hosted the Jimi Wilkin Memorial Tournament on August 7. Before the event, Suhas Kodali did a wonderful job analyzing Jimi’s style of play by reviewing a number of his games. The NBCC was able to raise $700 to support Jimi’s family during their difficult time. Thirty-four players played in the event, with a pretty equal split in each section. In the rated section, FM Nelson Castaneda was the winner. In the more fun unrated gambit section, with the Albin Counter Gambit, the Wing Gambit, and early h4 moves, Ilya Goffman was the winner. Many thanks to Mark Bourque for directing and to Gert Hilhorst for collecting the entry fees.

In mid-August, the club continued its summer schedule by hosting a one-week event for Eric Hilhorst, the next member to be recognized for his longevity in our organization. Eric was introduced to the game at the young age of seven. Soon thereafter, he joined the club with his father, Gert, who has been a guiding force in his life. With his father as his coach and mentor, Eric quickly moved up the rating ladder. Today, Eric’s rating is around 1750. He has worked hard to attain this level and has aspirations to reach class A soon!

Beyond our family, Eric has competed in many regional and state tournaments, especially at the library chess club in his hometown in Simsbury, where he has won several events and developed many friendships. Eric, like his father, is one of our few members who has had the opportunity to play chess internationally. When he was fourteen years old, Eric competed on team leagues in Amsterdam. Incidentally, Eric has traveled to this beautiful city over seventy times with his father! Talk about earning frequent flying miles! All levity aside, when looking back at Eric’s chess history, his proudest achievement was earning the prestigious high school title at the 2015 Connecticut State Scholastic Championship and representing our state at the Denker Tournament in Arizona. Eric recently completed his freshman year at the University of Connecticut, where he is an active member and vice president of their chess club. Even though Eric has not been able to play chess as often as he would like to, due to his intensive academic workload, he does make an effort to compete in events at the UConn CC and the NBCC during school breaks.  Earlier this year, Eric had a blast participating on the grand stage at USATE for his first time with his fellow UConn teammates. Eric is truly an amazing young man and superstar, and he has so much passion and energy for life and a deep affection and compassion for people. My friends, our chess community is bright because of members like Eric. We are so thrilled to have Eric as part of our family, and we wish him the utmost best in his future chess and academic endeavors in his long life ahead. For his tournament, Eric proposed the Bilbao format, where each player played two games, one with the white pieces and one with the black pieces. Because of the format, the tournament could not be rated. Players were grouped into quads. The following players won their respective quad: Nelson Castaneda (Quad 1), Carter Clayton (Quad 2), Bill Campbell and Elizabeth Smith (Quad 3), and Norman Burtness and Joseph Hricko (Quad 4). Carter was presented with a trophy for the most unexpected result. Thanks to Gert for organizing and directing this exciting event.

Prior to Eric’s special event, FM Richard Bauer went over John Baclawski’s contribution to chess opening theory, examining his game from the 2008 NBCC Championship vs. Andres Castaneda. Mr. Bauer has plans to submit this game to Chess Life or to another popular chess magazine.

On August 21, Expert David Herscovici, our club’s newest lecturer, reviewed of some of his recent games, noting how high-rated players make decisions during critical parts of their games. We are most fortunate for David’s analysis and look forward to having him teach more lessons to our growing audience.

On a glorious and pleasant late summer day (August 26) at Wickham Park in Manchester, sixty-four players from the area (the third highest turnout for any event in NBCC history) gathered for spirited play and social interaction at the 53rd Summer Open. This year, the club broke a record for the most youths ages eighteen or younger competing in one of our events - 35! Many hours of work were performed on-site and behind the scenes to ensure the success of Connecticut's huge summer outing of the year. The following people did a fantastic job: Manager Gert Hilhorst, TD Jan van de Mortel, and Chef Mario Guevara-Rodriguez. The club also thanks Rob Roy, NBCC’s loyal advocate, for bringing in ice-cold beverages and for being available to assist whenever needed and for advertising our event. Incidentally, the event winner on tie-breaks was FM Richard Bauer, who is now only one win or tie for first place away in this event to tie Arkadijs Strazdins’ record of ten. We hope to see you all next year! 

SEPTEMBER Every once in a while, a new event is held at the club. On the second week of the month, the club held its first Rated Rapid Showdown event. According to NBCC President Normal Burtness, “this new event is based on the Champions Showdown held last fall.” Players were paired to their nearest rival, and they had play ninety minutes of G/15; d/1, sixty minutes of G/5; d1, and fifteen minutes of G/1; d1. The winner was determined by a points system that awarded four points for each G/15 win, two points for every G/5 win, and one point for every G/1 win. The G/15 and G/5 games were rated but not the G/1 games. It was one wild evening of chess at the club that evening, and we thank Mr. Burtness for making this event possible. THE EVENT WINNERS OF THE THIRD QUARTER It was a very busy and fun third quarter for the club! Summer rules! July Knockout and Swiss Knockout: Suhas Kodali Swiss: Andrew Cowell and Mario Guevara-Rodriguez Jimi Wilkin Memorial Open: Nelson Castaneda Thematic: Ilya Goffman Eric Hilhorst Honorary Tournament Quad 1: Nelson Castaneda Quad 2: Carter Clayton Quad 3: Bill Campbell and Elizabeth Smith Quad 4: Norman Burtness and Joseph Hricko Summer Open Open: Richard Bauer U1618: Isaish Glessner and Theordoros Theodoropoulos U918: Michael Boisselle Quick Chess Championship Open: Nelson Castaneda and Richard Bauer U1700: Bill Campbell Rated Blitz XIX Open: Nelson Castaneda Rated Rapid Showdown Match 1: Nelson Castaneda Match 2: Derek Meredith Match 3: Andrew Cowell Match 4: Norman Burtness







It is with deep sadness to inform you about the sudden passing of James "Jimi" Wilkin, one of our club's veteran members. Jimi left his world on June 30, 2018, at the young age of forty-one. Jimi joined our family in 1998 and was a regular participant in many of our events for nearly two decades. Soon after joining the club, Jimi earned an expert rating of 2020. In chess, Jimi was particularly known for his unique opening repertoire and sharp tactical and positional play. He surely put an enormous amount of energy into his games. A few of Jimi's most memorable club achievements were winning the 2002 New Britain Summer Open Chess Championship and finishing in first place in the 2014 NBCC Championship Candidates Tournament, which automatically qualified him for the 2015 NBCC Championship. Jimi learned chess at an early age. In 1992, he won the high school division of the state championship and represented our state on a national level in Detroit later that year. He had such a passion, love, and enthusiasm for chess, and he treasured his friendships in the club. Jimi will be dearly missed by those who had the pleasure of knowing him. May he rest in eternal peace in heaven.

                          Jimi's family (above) attended the Jimi Wilkin Memorial Tournament




It is with a sad and heavy heart to inform you about the passing of one of our veteran members, John Baclawski. John left this world on July 24, 2018, after a very long and courageous battle with cancer. John’s history with our family spanned nearly fifty years. Widely known for his fighting and energetic spirit on the chess board, John appropriately earned the nickname - “The Claw.” In the annals of the club, John ranked in the top ten players in overall major (G/30 or longer) tournament victories, his first one earned in 1979 and his last one in 2010. Even though John preferred competing in the slower time-controlled events, he was always up for a quick or blitz game with his buddies. John was a friendly man who exhibited kindness to everyone in our community. May he rest in eternal peace in heaven.​ On July 29, a celebration of John’s life was held at the New Britain Quartette Club, where he was a member for many years.


                            John finishes 3rd              “The Claw” defeats longtime MA chess master David Lees in 1994

                     1978 NB City Chess Championship               






Three of our senior members performed well in the 2018 Massachusetts Senior Open Chess Championship held on September 16. The following are the amazing results from our champions. Way to go, gentlemen!

  • 2nd/Top Under 2210: Matthew Derek Meredith
  • Top Under 2010: Norman Burtness
  • 1st Under 1810 Section: Arthur Nagel




The question is:


Who are the youngest members to win the 2018 New Britain Summer Open Chess Championship?


Unfortunately, no one answered my questions from the second quarter report. ☹





In the coming weeks, we ask players to submit their best games for the annual NBCC Best Game of the Year contest. FM Richard Bauer reviews the games and awards the winners with cash and non-cash prizes. You can e-mail the games to Bob Cyr at


Other than that, I look forward to seeing you at the club and definitely at the Oktoberfest dinner party! Cheers! ☺



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2018 Yankee Peddler Open

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Most Recent Articles from Connecticut Chess Magazine

Report on 2018 Charter Oak Open

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Can Psychopaths be cured ?

New Britain Chess Club has success with Summer Open

The Flying Knight, by Alan Lasser

Nathan Chang wins 2018 Nutmeg State Open

Setting our time machine to Aug. 11, 1980, by Bob Cyr

Rising Chess Star at Wilson-Gray YMCA Hartford

New Britain Chess Club to train tournament directors

Report on 2018 Connecticut Yankee Open

Report on 2018 Coventry Summer Open



Nov 17  Yankee Peddler Open Coventry CT

Dec 15  Holiday Party Open Coventry CT



Nov 17 2018 Yankee Peddler Open

Dec 15 2018 Holiday Party Open

Jan 12 2019 Coventry Open

Feb 23 2019 Eastern Connecticut Open

Mar 16 2019 Greater Hartford Open

Apr 13 2019 Nathan Hale Open

May 18 2019 Constitution State Open

June 22 2019 Coventry Summer Open





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