2019 RVCC Championship Report

The Roanoke Valley Chess Club (RVCC) held its club championship on June 22 and 23, 2019, at Westhampton Christian Church. This event featured 5 players, with plenty of fighting chess, good sportsmanship, and a fun time for everyone.

Round 1 saw games between Benjamin Dubuque and Mike Huff, and Isaac Spence versus Ray Megginson. The White pieces prevailed in both instances. The Dubuque-Huff game started as an Accelerated Dragon which transposed to a Yugoslav Dragon; after a knight sac and ensuing complications in the middle game, it went into an unbalanced knight vs. 4 pawns endgame, which was won by the pawns. The Spence-Megginson game was won after a quiet middle game and transition into the ending, where Spence won a piece, and eventually obtained a position which would force promotion of one of his pawns.

Round 2 featured the lowest-rated player in the tournament, Henry Nguyen, facing off with the White pieces against Benjamin Dubuque. This duel ended in a draw by repetition, with both players content with the outcome. Ray Megginson wielded the White piece efficiently in his battle against Mike Huff, winning that encounter decisively.

Round 3 kicked off with one of the more eagerly anticipated matchups of the tournament: Benjamin Dubuque with the White pieces, vs. Isaac Spence with Black. The winner of this game would jump into the front running for the tournament victory. Both players deviated from their known repertoire. With Spence playing e5 and Dubuque playing an Evans Gambit, the game became a mess after Spence played Nge7, with Dubuque immediately replying Ng5. Spence found himself down on the clock with a dead-lost position. However, Dubuque let Spence back into the game with a series of inaccurate moves and a mistake. As a result, the position reached a messy, unbalanced endgame. In a position with pawns interlocked on a4 and a5, the Black knight on b2, the Black king on c3, a White rook on b5, and the White king on d5 with White to move, Dubuque played the move Rxb2 -- which would have been good enough for the win, if he had followed up Black's Kxb2 with Kc4. Instead, Dubuque played Kc5, and the game ended in a draw. This put Spence up a half-point for the tournament. On the other board in Round 3, Henry Nguyen fought hard against Ray Megginson, but eventually had to resign.

Round 4 featured 2 games: a second Megginson-Huff match, won by Mike Huff; and Henry Nguyen vs. Isaac Spence. Spence won the latter, thereby placing one hand firmly on the plaque for championship victory. This round featured the least fireworks; however, we also had an exhibition game between Dubuque and Sam Kennedy, which was won by Dubuque.

Round 5 capped off the tournament with some fighting chess. Dubuque with the White pieces defeated Ray Megginson, after finding himself in a poor position out of the opening, but sacrificing a bishop for two pawns in order to relieve the pressure against his king. On the other board, Isaac Spence with the Black pieces fought a tough game against Mike Huff, who played his hardest, but in the ending dealt with inactive pieces, and was slowly ground down. Spence claimed his win, and with it the tournament.

The top 3 finishers were: 1) Isaac Spence: 4.5; 2) Benjamin Dubuque: 4.0; and 3) Henry Nguyen: 2.5.

The players would like to express their gratitude to Ray Megginson, who did a splendid job in directing and ensuring a smooth event. We must also thank Westhampton Church for providing a congenial playing environment, and to Mike Huff, for his assistance in directing the tournament, and for steadfast efforts behind the scenes in organizing this event.