A much anticipated event in Florida, this year’s 24th edition of the Space Coast Open took place on the beachy island that is Cocoa Beach, Florida. Big waves and an upcoming rocket launching were not the only things to splash the sunny town with excitement. 2700 + rated GMs and over two hundred battle ready chess playing warriors added a whole new dimension to Cocoa Beach. The prestigious event started on Friday April 28 at 7:30 p.m. 2016 U.S. Women’s Champion, IM Nazi Paikidze, also made a special appearance. Paikidze played a simul against eleven scholastic players and hosted instructive lectures for chess players and fans alike. James Wnek, a player in the simul had this to say; “Her (Nazi) play was extremely inspiring and provided excellent insight into how to counter attack. The simul was a chance of a lifetime for me as Nazi Paikidze has been one of my favorite players for several years now.” GM Timur Gareyev also hosted a simul in which he played blindfolded on all of the boards!
After a quick opening ceremony, international arbiter Jon Haskel announced, “Ok you may shake hands and start White’s clock!” Liftoff, the games had begun! I myself had the wonderful experience of playing in the Master/Expert section for the first time. There I was amongst such stars as GM Timur Gareyev, prodigy FM Nikhil Kumar, and many others. Round one was filled with many surprising upsets. Fellow chess Expert and good friend, Kai Tabor rated (2073 at that time), took down Kumar.
Day 2 was even more thrilling than the first. Apart from everything else, the players that were scheduled in the two day section merged with all of us three day scheduled players. The hotel was buzzing with bright chess minds. Nearly every person in the vicinity played chess.
After two days of intense fighting chess battles, the championship rounds had arrived. At this point in the tournament, the favorites were dominating the field with perfect 3/3 scores. In the final round, Gareyev and Becerra only played an eleven (!) move game that ended in a draw. In the end it was Gareyev who won the master section with an impressive 4.5/5. To wrap things up, the sonic boom from the aforementioned rocket launching was not the only thing that rocked the town of Cocoa Beach that spectacular weekend.
Note: Brilliany game annotations are by Tony Burrus except where noted.