Inland Empire Open

The Inland Empire Open, first played in 1954, is Spokane’s oldest and longest running tournament.  The stories for the tournament, dating back to 2004, can be read below.

 The event is normally played in the spring, usually in late April or early May.  The event flyer is posted on the Area Events page when it is ready.

 2018 Inland Empire Open

 April 28-29

    Fourth seed Antonius Raelund of Kallispell won this year’s Inland Empire Open with a perfect 5.0 score.  Second place (4.0) was shared by Steve Merwin and Sam Rainey.  Rainey also won the biggest upset — all four of his victories were upsets!  There were lots of other winners: the second class A prize was shared by Braxton Casey and Mika Mitchell.  James Inman was tops in class B (3.5), with Walter van Heemstede Obelt (3.0) second.   Due to Rainey sharing second, the class C first place went to teenager Jonathan Geyman (3.0), while Louis Blair and Sam Comi (2.5) shared the second place prize.  William Merry (2.0) won the D/E section, with Bill Rottmayer and Zihan Wang (1.5) sharing second in the section.   

      The tournament began with a pair of upsets in the first round, with Rainey’s first upset the largest of the tourney.  The trend continued in rounds two and three.  Raelund topped Michael Cambareri in a board one third round slugfest that was highly entertaining.  When the first day’s action had ended, the only two perfect scores belonged to Raelund and Rainey.  That pair was scheduled to meet on board one in round four.  The round had a bizarre start, with six of the 23 players missing in action, including both on board one! Raelund, who was staying in Coeur d’Alene, took a wrong turn and entered the east bound freeway back towards Montana rather heading west to Spokane.  He arrived at 10:00; Rainey, who was confused over the starting time, likewise arrived at 10, and a double forfeit was avoided.  Dividing up the remaining time, the two played a g/90 event with Raelund racing to the victory.  While the other late arrivals had varying difficulties, an extremely unusual problem sidelined Sam Comi.  He went to the parking lot in his building only to find that police had closed the street (and most of his neighborhood) for a cancer fundraising run.  Officers removed barrier and opened up the roads at 11, too late to avoid a forfeiture!  Meanwhile, top seeds Steve Merwin and Michael Cambareri drew in their board two encounter.  James Inman of  Nampa, ID, followed up his strong results in the 2018 Collyer Memorial with another good outing. After claiming victory in round four, he was the only player with a 3.5 score and found himself facing Raelund on board one.  Raelund won out, as did both Merwin and Rainey in their contests to claim second place.

   There were 23 players in this year’s event, which again was played at Gonzaga’s Jepson Center.

   The USCF cross table link:

2017 Inland Empire Open

 April 29-30

   Top seeds Michael Cambareri and Mark Havrilla won this year’s Inland Empire Open with scores of 4.0.  Mark beat Michael in round four, but was held to a final round draw while Michael scored a comeback victory in a fascinating game where his opponent had four pieces for a queen! Michael had the only perfect score after the first day’s action while Mark took a Saturday night bye to enter their showdown battle one half point behind.  

   A total of 29 players (and one house player) took part in this year’s installment of Spokane’s oldest weekend tournament.  While Michael had the perfect score after the first day and Mark was the only returning player at 2.5, there were nine other players who finished the first day with 2.0 scores.  That made for a bunch of closely contested games on the final day — and the bunched up standings reflected the close nature of the competition.  Four players finished third with scores of 3.5: Brad Bodie, Jonathan Geyman, Dan McCourt, and Karl Reutter.  Jonathan, a rapidly rising provisionally-rated player, was also the top score in class C, while the other three also shared the class A prizes.  The class B prizes were shared by Jason Cross and Kevin Korsmo with scores of 3.0.  Second place in class C was shared by Walter van Heemstede Obelt and Ron Weyland, both of whom scored 2.5.  Walter’s accomplishment was particularly impressive in that he was only able to play the first day due to work commitments.

   Steve Wallace (3.0) won the class D first prize.  Second in that section (at 2.5) was shared by Logan Faulkner and Rob Harder.  Rob also scored a 606 point upset victory in the first round to claim the top upset prize.  The tourney also featured six unrated players participating in their first USCF tourney. 

   The USCF cross table link:

2016 Inland Empire Open

May 14-15

         This year’s installment of the Inland Empire Open ended up with the top three seeds sharing first place and claiming the prizes for first, second, and third.  Michael Cambareri, Michael Murray, and Pavlo Zaborskyy all scored 4.0 to top the 28 player field.  Five players had finished the first day’s action on top of the leader board   The only two perfect scores to play in the third round — top seed Michael Cambareri and Gordon Higbie — fought late into the night before drawing the day’s final game.  They were joined at 2.5 by Mark Anderson, Garrett Casey, and Michael Murray, all of whom took third round byes.  The fourth round saw Cambareri topple Anderson and Murray defeat Higbie, while Zaborskyy stopped Garrett Casey.  Zaborskyy won his final game and then everyone watched while Cambareri and Murray fight four hours before drawing when Michael, with one second left, lost his pawn advantage in the time scramble.

        The class A prize was won by Brad Bodie (3.5), while Gordon Higbie was second at 3.0.  Mark Anderson took first in class B with another 3.5 score, while Garrett Casey took second at 3.0.  Class C saw a tie between Nick Martonick and Tito Tinajero, both with scores of 3.0.  First in class D went to Jim Burney with 2.5, while 2.0 scores gave second place to Arlene Bodie, Jim Waugh, and  Ron Weyland.  Ron also claimed the biggest upset with a victory in the first round over an opponent rated 477 points higher.

Rusty Miller passed on this story from Michael Murray’s Facebook page:

“49 years ago, I was involved in a 3 way tie for First in the 1967 Inland Empire Open, after I missed a winning move in the last round and only drew. This year, i was again involved in a 3 way tie for First, after my last round opponent missed a win (which would have given him outright First) against ME. Is this Karma or what?”

        It appears that history does repeat itself!!

        The event was played at Gonzaga’s Jepson Center.

        The USCF cross table link:

2015 Inland Empire Open

May 16-17

         Brad Bodie scored 4.5 to win this year’s Inland Empire Open.  Brad defeated the fellow perfect 3.0 scorer David Dussome in round four and then fought to a draw against Michael Cambareri in the final round.  Michael and Nikolay Bulakh, the tourney’s top two seeds, tied for second place.  Romie Carpenter, Kairav Joshi, and Jeremy Krasin (3.5) won the class A prizes, while Dan Hochee, Kevin Korsmo, and Dan McCourt (3.0) shared the class B prizes.  Sam Comi (2.5) was first in class C.  The class D/under section was won by fifth grader Garrett Casey (2.5), while second place in that section was shared by Braxton Casey, Cecelia Valeriotte, Steve Wallace, and Jim Waugh (1.5).  Steve Wallace claimed the biggest upset prize with a 729 point differential in round one.

        The USCF cross table link:

2014 Inland Empire Open

May 17-18

    Top seed Cameron Leslie swept the field to win this year’s Inland Empire Open with a perfect 5.0 score.  Michael Cambareri, who lost to Leslie in round four, was a clear second at 4.0.  They were the only perfect scores in the field of 32 after the first day’s action.  The class A prizes were shared (scores of 3.5) by Nikolay Bulakh,  Romie Carpenter, Jeremy Krasin, and James Stripes.  A score of 3.5 also served to give Steve Jones the class B first prize.  Mark Anderson won the second B prize with a score of 3.0.  The class C prizes were shared by Ted Baker, Dan Hochee, and Ron Weyland, each of whom also scored 3.0.  Arlene Hiatt (2.5) won the first class D/under prize.  The remaining prizes in that category were shared by Jeff Jaroski, Frank Miller, Shawn Woods, Cody Woods, & Carson Woods (all with 2.0 scores).  Cody (468 point differential) edged Carson (398 point differential) for the biggest upset prize with a final round upset.

    The USCF cross table link:

    A new feature this year saw a dozen players take part in a free outdoor blitztournament onFriday, May 16, downtown at Wall & Main.  Michael Cambareri gave up only one draw while winning the time-shortened nine round event with a 8.5 score.

    The blitz tourney link:

2013 Inland Empire Open

        John Julian, the top seed, won with a 4.5 score; he was the only perfect (3.0) score after the first day’s action.  John defeated James Stripes in a final round pairing of last year’s City Championship match players.  Michael Cambareri and Cam Leslie finished second with scores of 4.0; they also shared the top class A prize. A score of 3.5 gave Stripes and Mark Havrilla second place in class A, while the same score gave Loyd Willaford the first class B prize. Second in B was shared by Jeff Roland, Murlin Varner, and Jeremy Younker with 3.0 scores.  That same score gave Walter Van Heemestede Obelt first place in class C.

        Second place in class C, with a score of 2.5, went to Ted Baker.  Savanna Naccarato won the class D first prize with a 2.5 score, while second in that category was shared by John Frostad, Patrick Kirlin, and Alexander Popescu with scores of 2.0.   Jeremy Younker claimed the biggest upset prize with his second round victory over one of the three Expert players in the event.   

        There was a brief celebration of Jim Waugh’s 84th birthday just before the second round on Saturday, with the competitors singing happy birthday to the grand old man of Spokane chess and sharing in some birthday cake.

        The event was played at Gonzaga’s Schoenberg Center April 27-28. 

        The USCF cross table link:

2012 Inland Empire Open


        John Julian and Cameron Leslie each finished with 4.5 to share first place in the 2012 Inland Empire Open which was held April 21-22.  John drew with fellow Expert Tim Moroney in their fourth round game, and then defeated Mark Havrilla in the final round on board one.  Cam had to take a first round bye due to work obligations, but won his four games to join John on top.  He defeated Tacoma’s Joseph Kiiru on board two in the final round to earn the tie with Julian.  Top seed Moroney had to take a fifth round bye due to work and finished third with 4.0.

        The class A prizes were shared by Havrilla, Michael Cambareri, and Kairav Joshi, each of whom scored 3.5.  Kevin Korsmo and Jim McAleer won the class B prizes with 3.0 scores.  Tim Kennedy won class C with 3.0, while John Hay and Ron Weyland took second in the class with 2.0 scores.  A tally of 2.5 secured first place in class D for Jim Burney, while Rory Peterson and Brian Rinker finished one half point behind to share the second prize.  Ted Baker’s first round upset of 491 points held up for the biggest upset prize.

        The event saw 30 players take part — a great turn out considering the conflict with the state elementary tournament that took many of our local playerss away from the IEO.  Dave Griffin again directed the event at Gonzaga’s Schoenberg Center.

        The USCF cross table link: 

2011 Inland Empire Open


    Top seed John Julian won the latest installment of the Inland Empire Open, Spokane’s longest running weekend tourney, with a 4.5 score.  He drew with co-leader Nikolay Bulakh in round 4, and then won his final round match while Nikolay (4.0) was held to a draw by Steve Jones.  Jones, a former IEO co-champion (1994) and regular club player in the 1990s, returned to action in fine form and finished with 3.5.  He last played a rated event in 1996.

     Nikolay and veteran Pat Herbers (who played in his first IEO in 1964) tied for second (and first in Class A) with 4.0 scores.  Second place in Class A went to Kairav Joshi (3.5).  That score also won the Class B prizes for Jones and Kevin Korsmo.  The Class C prizes were split among Ted Baker, Ron Weyland, and Jim Wierson (2.0).   The best in Class D was Peter Shumaker (2.5), while second place in that category was shared by Jim Burney, Jeff Jaroski, Jerrold Richards, and Jim Waugh (1.5).  The biggest upset went to Dalles, Oregon player Jerrold Richards, who just edged Missoula’s Jim Wierson (by 19 points) for the prize. 

    The event was played at a new venue, Center Pointe, located at 1408 N. Washington in Spokane.

    The USCF cross table link:

2010 Inland Empire Open


         Top seeds Mark Havrilla and Avinaya Subedi won the Inland Empire Open held May 1-2, but it was not easy.  Both had to fight out of a four-way tie for second in the last round to claim first.  Each scored 4.0.  Five people scored 3.5 to tie for Third place:  Adam Attwood, Nikolay Bulakh, Kevin Korsmo, Aaron Nickoski, and Kairav Joshi.  The first four won the B section prizes, while Kairav claimed first place in Class C.  Second place in Class C was shared by Chris Copeland, Dallas Filan, and Timothy Grupp.  Jim Derocher and Jim Waugh shared the Class D prizes with 2.5 scores.  The biggest upset prize was claimed by 81-year-old Jim Waugh who a 326 point scalping in the first round.

        The USCF cross table link:

2009 Inland Empire Open


        The top three seeds, John Julian, Mark Havrilla, and Martin Schmidt, won this year’s event with 4-1 scores each.  The tourney was played April 4-5.  The top “B” player went to Nathan Armstrong (3.5), with second place in class “B” shared by Steve Brendemihl and John Walton.  Aaron Nicoski and Avanaya Subedi topped class C with 3.5 scores, while the best in the D/E/unrated categories went to Jim Burney and Ed Dodd (3.0).  The biggest upset was won by Jim Burney (466 points).

    The USCF cross table link:

2008 Inland Empire Open


    Tacoma’s Paul Bartron again won the Inland Empire Open, topping the 2008 edition with a 4.5 score to finish one-half point ahead of Chris Kalina and Phil Weyland.  Paul won $180 for first place, while Chris and Phil split the $230 in second and third place prizes.  Michael Murray topped the Class A category.  The Class B prizes were won by Steve Buck and John Walton. Taylor Coles was tops in Class C. The first place prize in Class D was won by Missoula’s Tim Kennedy, who also bagged the biggest upset prize.  Second place in Class D went to Paul Ramer.   

    This tourney, first played in 1954, was held at the Schoenberg Center at Gonzaga University.  There were 24 players competing in this year’s event. 

    The USCF cross table:



        Paul Barton of Tacoma and Josh Sinanan of Seattle won the 2007 Inland Empire Open.  Their scores of 4.5 topped the 39 player field.  Dan Mathews, the 2006 champion, finished third with 4.0.  The tourney title was up in the air to the very end.  Sinanan stopped John Julian in one of the last contests of the day.  Bartron then upended top seed Dave Sprenkle in the very last game of the tourney to share the title with Sinanan.

        The Class A prizes were shared by Chris Kalina and Michael Murray, each of whom scored 2.5.  The Class B prizes were split by Cyrus Desmarais and John Walton, both of whom also scored 3.5.  The Class C prizes were won by Ryan Ackerman and Travis Elisara.  Ackerman also won the prize for the second largest upset.

        The Class D category was won by Taylor Coles.  Taylor, the lowest rated player in the tourney, scored an impressive 3.0 en route to claiming the section prize.  The second place in Class D was split between Elliott Chow and Jim Waugh.  Waugh, the oldest player in the event, celebrated his 78th birthday on the final day of play.  Way to go, Jim!   The largest upset prize was secured by Scott Engelhard.

    The USCF cross table link:



       Dan Mathews of Edmonds won the 2006 installment of  the Inland Empire Open on April 29-30.  His 4.0 score edged out five who shared second place with 3.5 scores: Pat Herbers, John Rosell, Phil Weyland, eleven-year-old Alex Chow, and tournament director (!) Dave Griffin.  Mathews claimed the $175 first prize by winning both of his Sunday games and overtaking the others when the Herbers-Chow and Weyland-Rosell final round games ended in draws.  Each of the five second place winners received $77 as their share of second and third places as well as the A and B class prizes.

    There were 14 draws, all long fought, in the tourney.  Mix in quite a few first and third round byes, and it was easy to see why there were no perfect scores after the first day.  Both the tourney leaders and the class prize groups were closely bunched the whole way, with many of the prizes dependent upon the outcome of the last few games.

    The Class C prize was shared by Zach Countryman, John Hornickle of Tacoma, and Bill McBroom of of Missoula.  Each received $27.  The Class D prizes were claimed by Ted Baker and Jim Waugh, who received $40 each.  Waugh celebrated his 77th birthday on the first day of the tourney!  He capped the day by winning his third round game and then tied for the class prize the following day.  Way to go Jim!

    William Spencer of Helena claimed the biggest upset prize of $50 by drawing a player 820 points higher than him!  Ted Baker captured the second upset prize ($30) for his first round victory of a player rated 322 points higher.

    There were 30 players taking part this year, including John Downes who participated in the very first IEO in 1954!  The IEO is the oldest of our Spokane’s annual weekend tourneys and one of the longest running events in Washington state.

    Well-known NW chess personality Rusty Miller dropped by during the first round to check out the tourney.  He forwarded some pictures, including this shot:

The 2006 USCF cross table link:

2005 Inland Empire Open

The Inland Empire Open, first played in 1954, is the Spokane Chess Club’s oldest weekend Swiss tourney.  This event is traditionally played in late April or early May.

Collyer, Julian Win 2005 Inland Empire Open!

    Curt Collyer  and John Julian won the 52nd Inland Empire Open, Spokane’s oldest tournament, with scores of 4.5.   Each won $200 for sharing the first and second prizes.  Finishing third in the field of 27 were Geoff Gale, Pat Herbers, Elston Cloy, and Robert Martin with 3.5 scores. They each earned $68.75 for splitting third place, first and second in class A, and first in class B.  Martin won the B section with his score while the others topped the A section.  The cross table for the event and some annotated games can be seen on the IEO page (link at left).

    Brad Bodie and Michael Cambareri shared second and third in Class B.  They each received $30 for their 3.0 scores.  This was Bodie’s first return to tournament chess in several years.  Adam Attwood (3.0) won the Class C prize of $60 while Garrett Morkill (2.5) received $30 for finishing second.  Vern Johnson (2.0) won the $60 class D prize, while Jeff Burkert, Patrick Kirlin, and Jim Waugh each won $10 tying for second in the section with 1.5 scores.

   Ted Baker claimed the biggest upset (and $55 prize) for downing a player 585 points above him in round one.  Vern Johnson bagged the second largest upset with his first round conquest of a player 378 points higher.  He earned $30 for that accomplishment.

   There was a $1,000 Guaranteed Prize Fund, the largest in the history of this event.  Attendance was down due to a late date change and a conflict with the Supernationals in Tennessee which cost the attendance of six players.  Tournament Director David Griffin ran a flawless event.  Several players donated their winnings back to the club.  Thank you everyone for a great tourney!

    The USCF cross table link:

2004 Inland Empire Open


IEO Road Show A Success!

Eastern Washington’s oldest and longest running tournament, the Inland Empire Open, hit the road to celebrate its 50thanniversary.  38 players, including four rated over 2000, entered the event, which was held in Richland.  FM David Bragg of Seattle was the top-rated player.

Upsets, most pulled off by rapidly improving teenagers, could be found in every round of the event.  A series of draws on the top three boards in the last round led to a six way tie for first with 4-1 scores between Bragg, experts Steve Merwin and Lewis McClary, class “A” players Geoff Gale and Marc Dippre, and “teenager Andy May (1510), a “C” class player.  May also recorded the biggest upset of the tourney when he downed Expert Matt Campbell (2092) in round 4.  He also beat two “A” players en route to his share of the title.

May was not the only youngster with a strong weekend performance.  Blake Salisbury (1714) of Clatskanie, OR, scored 3.5 while having to play the top three players in consecutive rounds!  He drew with Bragg in round two and defeated Campbell in round 3, before falling to Merwin in round four.  North Bend’s Matt Wilson (1367) scored 3.0 and tied for the best score in the “D” class.  Todd May, Andy’s brother, defeated a 1900 player en route to a 2.5 finish.  Another teenager, Yang So He, won two games.

The event also had an international flavor due to the presence of Steinar Bryn and his 16-year-old son Asklid.  The senior Bryn is a Norwegian diplomat who is teaching at Pacific Lutheran University for a semester.  The two ventured over from Tacoma, joined the USCF, and their respective 3.0 scores shared the “D and under” category prizes with Wilson.  The younger Bryn sports a Norwegian rating of 1850.  His only loss was to McClary on board 2 in round three, where the veteran’s endgame skills led him to pull out the victory in an even position. 

Dan Mathews, with 3.5, captured the “B” prize. Other class prize winners included Salisbury, Dustin Benson, Phil Weyland, Steve Fabian, and John Trullinger (3.0) tying for second in the “B” category.  There was a four-way tie for second in the “C” class with Bill McMahon, Yang So He, Steve Brendemihl, and Joe Rivera all scoring 2.0. 

The turnout was larger than expected, with most players coming from the Columbia Basin region where there have not been any formal USCF events in several years.  The facility was first rate.  The event was staged at the new Richland Community Center located in the beautiful Ammon Park along the Columbia River.  Those familiar with hydro races in the Tri-Cities will be familiar with the area.  An anonymous donor who also played in the event covered the hefty fee for use of the facility. The $1000 prize fund was guaranteed by the Gary Younker Foundation.  The Foundation was started in honor of late Spokane CC stalwart Gary Younker and is designed to promote chess in the Inland Empire region. 

The success of this event led to the decision to sponsor another major event (perhaps a revival of the Columbia Cup) next year at the same location.  The tournament benefactor will again sponsor use of the facility. The Inland Empire Open will itself return to Spokane for next year.

The USCF cross table: