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  • Jay Simonson

Unrated Jeremy Thomas Wins 2022 Eastern Idaho Open

In the best-attended Eastern Idaho Open Chess Tournament in several years, 34 players vied for top honors in this annual tournament on September 24, 2022, at ISU’s Student Union Building, Salmon River Suites, in Pocatello Idaho, under the Tournament Direction of ICA’s Jay Simonson. They came from several cities in Idaho, two came from Utah, one came all the way from Virginia, and one even came from Canada.

Going into the final Round Four, there were four players tied with 3 points each: Our current Idaho State Chess Champion, Kaustaubh Kodihalli, of Boise, Idaho; winner of the Top Unrated Prize at the 2022 Idaho Open Chess Championship, Raul Villacorta, of Rexburg, Idaho; former Eastern Idaho Open winner, Gary Owen, of Preston, Idaho; and Unrated Jeremy Thomas, of Pocatello, Idaho. This set up the pent ultimate matchup of Raul vs Kaustaubh, and Jeremy vs Gary. Raul, a Class C player, and the reigning Idaho Chess Champion fought a tough battle that ended in a draw. All eyes were then focused on the battle between Jeremy Thomas and Gary Owen. Toward the end of the game, for a time, it looked like it might end up as a draw as well, which would have resulted in a four-way tie for 1st Place. But, Jeremy was able to promote to a Queen, and after some very challenging and tough play, was able to convert his advantage to a win.

Congratulations and Well Done to Jeremy! He collected the First Prize of $100. Kaustaubh won 2nd Place on Tie Breaks, and collected $50. Raul Villacorta won $50 for claiming Top Honors of Class C. Despite his super strong play and giving the winner a real run for his money, Gary Owen finished just out of the money.

The top players in Class B, C, D, E, and Unrated each won $50 for their efforts. Dewayne Derryberry, of Pocatello, Idaho, was the Top Class B. As noted above, Raul Villacorta won Top Class C. Tilly Backstrom, of Idaho Falls, Idaho, and currently attending the College of Idaho, in Caldwell, Idaho, was the Class D winner. Class E winner was William Miller, of Rexburg, Idaho, and the Top Unrated honors (besides the clear winner of the Tournament) went to Silvino Balderama Prieto, of Idaho Falls, Idaho.

This was a great tournament, with a very fine outcome, even though it started out rather rocky. First, uncharacteristically, the Tournament Director was late getting to the tournament location. Then, there were no less than ten people who were either not USCF members, or there was a problem with their USCF membership. The TD and the players were able to work through most all of these challenges, but one player who now lives in Idaho Falls, but formerly lived in New Mexico, slipped through the cracks with a USCF membership which expired in 2010. For a few days, the TD could not connect with the player to resolve the matter. When the connection was finally accomplished, the TD discovered that the reason for the lack of response was the player was in the hospital with his wife who was giving birth to a new baby. All is well now! Congratulations and THANK YOU to all the players.

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