Donaldson & Haessler share Collyer crown

        John Donaldson and Carl Haessler shared the title of champion of the 16th Dave Collyer Memorial played February 23-24, 2008.  They topped the record-sized field of 67 players with 4.5 scores. 

The two met in the final round and reached a quick draw to share the title.  Third place was a four-way tie involving David Bragg, Josh Sinanan, Chris Kalina, and Michael Wang. Each scored 4.0 and received $100 as their share of the combined third place, expert prize, and the two Class A prizes.   Wang won an additional $100 donated by the Gary Younker Foundation for the highest score by a player aged 18 or under.  The Kirkland youngster played like a seasoned veteran and won his share of third place by winning the very last game of the tourney, a tight queen vs. rook endgame with little time left on the respective clocks.

        The other winners included Alex Chow, Cyrus Desmarais, and Casey Fleck in Class B.  Their 3.5 scores shared the $175 in class prize money in the largest section in the tournament.  The Class C prizes were shared by Ryan Ackerman and Dave Griffin, each of whom scored 3.0.  The Class D and under prize was won by Cameron Leslie, making his first tournament appearance in the region and his first rated event in five, with a score of 3.5. The second place prize in the section went to Missoula's Brett Thomas-Dejongh with a 2.5 score.  Brett played excellent chess the entire tournament and drew an exciting game with Michael Wang Saturday night.

        As typical, there were many upsets in this always strong tournament.  The top upset went to Helena's Bill Spencer with his last round victory over a player rated 688 points above him!  The second upset was nearly as large. Robbin Arnett of Yakima bagged a player 651 points higher!!  Each won $100 for his upset efforts.

        Despite the upsets, the tournament went pretty much to form the first day.  The top four seeds had the only perfect 3.0 scores after the first day's action: John Donaldson, David Bragg, Carl Haessler, and Josh Sinanan.  The four squared off on the top two boards in round four action Sunday morning.  Donaldson defeated Sinanan while Haessler topped Bragg.  That set the stage for the final round match up.  In their previous meeting  in the 2000 Collyer Memorial, Haessler had defeated Donaldson.  This time there was not a protracted battle despite the fact that the Gary Younker Foundation had offered a $200 bonus to any player achieving a perfect 5.0 score.

        The Collyer Memorial is jointly sponsored by the Spokane Chess Club and the Gary Younker Foundation in honor of past Spokane Chess Club presidents Dave Collyer and Gary Younker.  Gary started the tournament in 1993 in honor of Dave.  After Gary died of cancer in 2001, several of his friends formed the Gary Younker Foundation to promote chess in eastern Washington, with a special emphasis on youth chess.  The Foundation has backed each of the subsequent Collyer Memorial tournaments, as well as other regional events.  Several players made donations to the foundation, including Bill Spencer who donated his $100 upset prize!  

        The weekend kicked off with Donaldson presenting a lecture February 22 at the Liberty Cafe on the first floor of Auntie's Bookstore, on the pending Gata Kamsky semi-final championship match.  The lecture was followed by a 18 board simul.  Donaldson was perfect for the second year in a row, putting away the competition in about 2 1/2 hours.

        The tournament was played at the St. Anne's Children's Center, W. 25 Fifth Avenue South, Spokane.  The site drew plenty of fine reviews from the players and will be used again for next year's Collyer Memorial.

        The USCF cross table link: http://www.uschess.org/msa/XtblMain.php?200802241931-10328357