by Larry Storch
January 30, 2012: I won my fifth club championship last weekend, but not without controversy. The CFCC’s policy is that only players who have been members 30 days prior to the event are eligible for the title. This is not the first time the champion came from the second group. Read on to see the other times this happened.
March 5, 2010: Last weekend I won my fourth Club Championship which is more than anyone else save Wilmer Chavira (6). I have updated the article I wrote in 2005 to include all the years since then. Enjoy the remarkable history of this prestigious event!
May 14, 2005: In February, I won the Central Florida Chess Club Championship for the third time. I was very happy to obtain the title that I covet the most in chess. It was made sweeter, by the fact that I had to beat perennial champion Wilmer Chavira and the young phenom, Ray Robson, both with the black pieces, on the second day of the tournament. Then I had a realization; this is my first CFCC title in 14 years! How could this be? I decided to look back and see why this tournament has been so elusive. There is one undeniable fact; the Central Florida Chess club has had some very strong players over the years since its inception in 1987.
1987: Ryan and storcH
The Central Florida Chess club got its start in 1987 when the Orlando Chess Club and the Winter Park Chess Club combined. Our first championship was one that mirrored international tournaments at the time. There was a large swiss tournament, and the top six finishers were invited to play in a round robin event. The result of this “candidate tournament” was a two-way tie for first between Mark Ryan and myself. Thus Ryan and Larry Storch became the first CFCC Champions.
1988 saw a more traditional approach and the tournament finished with a two-way tie for first between strong master Nick Schoonmaker and expert Richard Sobel. Unhappy with the dual title the year before, the club directors decided that the titleholder would be the winner of a two out of three speed chess playoff. Schoonmaker was the prohibitive favorite, but Richard Sobel pulled off the upset and became 1988 champion.
In 1989, Nick Schoonmaker got his revenge, going 4.5/5 to finish a full point ahead of Larry Storch, Mike Petersen, Richard Sobel, Mike Spedale and Mike Foust.
1990 brought a new decade, but the names at the top of the crosstable were familiar. Mark Ryan and Mike Petersen tied with four points, with Ryan taking the trophy for the second time. That event had four masters and six experts.
1991 was another strong event. No less than eight players were rated over 2100. It looked like Mike Spedale was going to get his first crown, but in our last round game, I turned the tables and won a long game to finish with 4.5/5. Thus Larry Storch became a second time winner.
Mike didn’t have long to wait. In 1992, with another strong event on tap, he scored four points and tied with long time Orlando master, Sheldon Wong. Sheldon’s tiebreaks just weren’t good enough, and Mike Spedale was 1992 CFCC Champion.
The 1993 event was a bit strange in that the first two places were taken by players from out of town and thus were ineligible for the title. Steve Chakis scored 4.5/5, but the club champion would come from the 3.5 score group. This included familiar names, and one new one. Wilmer Chavira bested Larry Storch, Mike Petersen and Mike Spedale to take his first title. There would be many more.
The 1994 edition had an amusing finish. The following weekend was the U.S. Amateur team tournament in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and my entire team, Dr. John Nardandrea, Nick Schoonmaker, Larry Storch and three time high school champion, Jason Earley, along with non-team member, Steve Chakis, tied for first. Nick Schoonmaker’s tiebreaks were the highest, and he captured his second CFCC title. Our team of first place finishers placed second in Louisiana.
In 1995, Mike Spedale returned as champion. He, along with Wilmer Chavira finished with 4.5/5, this victory allowed him to become a multi-time winner.
The 1996 event continued a trend, no player had ever repeated as CFCC Champion! The tournament was not as strong as the previous edition, none-the-less, Wilmer Chavira put on a blazing performance to sweep the field 5-0 and capture his second CFCC title. There would be many more.
1997 broke a trend. The event was won by non-member, Ray Saterlee (2111), while club members Wilmer Chavira, Larry Storch and young Jason Earley finished with 4 points. Wilmer Chavira emerged from the tiebreaks to retain the title and become the first repeat champion. The tournament also featured some talented young players. Along with Earley, Jeremy Keller, David Winkler and Adam Schoenfelder were now preparing to stake their claim to the club trophy. We wouldn’t have to wait long for this to occur.
1998 was an extremely interesting tournament. It saw the return of two CFCC veterans; two-time champion Mike Spedale and former Orlando Chess Club talent, Scott Mayer. These two, along with veterans Wilmer Chavira, Nick Schoonmaker and Larry Storch would try to hold back the youth movement. In all, there were 8 players rated over 2100. In the first round, three-time champion Wilmer Chavira lost to Mayer who was trying to make a comeback after a long layoff and Larry Storch lost to yet another youthful talent from Deland, Andrew Boekhoff.
In the fourth round, Storch knocked out Mayer, and Schoonmaker succumbed to teenager David Winkler, while Spedale’s hopes were dashed by Jeremy Keller. This set up a last round pairings on board one between Winkler and Keller, while Storch-Chavira on board two were ready to pounce at any faltering from the first table. Escewing an early draw offer, Keller executed a mating attack and became the surprise champion of 1998. Thus at 17, Jeremy Keller became the youngest CFCC Champion.
The 1999 event was not in the tradition of ultra strong CFCC championships. There were still some hard-fought games. Wilmer Chavira, though made it his fourth club championship with a 4.5-.5 blitzing of the field. Interestingly, making his debut in this event and finishing dead last (24th place), was a young boy who may one day challenge Chavira’s record for club championships; 9 year old Daniel Ludwig (1041).
February, 2000 saw the most remarkable performance in the history of the event. With a powerful field of masters and experts, it was a class A player from Deland who made headlines. After a routine win in round one, Andrew Boekhoff (1973) was facing a murderer’s row of chess players and mowed them down in turn. The first to fall was two-time champion Larry Storch (2215). Next was top seeded Alfonso Gabbedon (2246). Then Boekhoff defeated two-time champion Nick Schoonmaker (2200), and finally four-time champ, Wilmer Chavira (2200).
This 5-0 finish left a lasting impression on all who played and served notice that perhaps a new generation of player was prepared to unseat the old guard. It wouldn't take long however to restore order.
In 2001 the veterans were in charge again although there were some bumps along the way. Wilmer Chavira lost in the first round to young Daniel Ludwig (under-rated at 1667). In the last round, Larry Storch was well on his way to the championship with an impressive performance against top-rated Alfonso Gabbedon (2301), when the crafty Cuban master found a clever resource which allowed him to achieve a draw and win the championship on tiebreaks over a resurgent Wilmer Chavira.
In 2002, four CFCC Champions, and one future champion battled for the trophy. This year Boekhoff was back, along with Chavira and Storch. Defending champion Gabbedon raced out to a 3-0 score. Although Boekhoff finished with 4 1/2 points, it was Wilmer Chavira who impressed, defeating masters Storch and Gabbedon in rounds four and five. Quoting the now five-time champion about his thoughts during his last round encounter, “Since only one person has repeated as club champion before (yours truly), you can say that history was on my side. I was extra motivated to keep Alfonso from joining me in history”.
So who was that future champion who finished 10th in 2002? He was young Francisco Guadalupe (1896), and in 2003 he found himself in the kind of pressure cooker that has caused veterans to wilt. After the first day, Guadalupe was among a group of 3-0 players that included Wilmer Chavira and Larry Storch. After a solid win against Gabbedon in round two, he now had to keep his balance. A win in round four pitted him against his former teacher, Storch in the last round. Playing solidly for 58 moves, Francisco held off his veteran opponent with a draw to finish with 4 1/2 points and at 14, became the youngest ever CFCC Champion.
In 2004 young players were trying hard to make their name in this tough annual event. But defending champion Guadalupe lost in round three to Chavira. Fast improving Daniel Ludwig (now 2188) knocked off Gabbedon. So the first day group of 3-0 players were Chavira, Larry Storch, Ludwig, and a nine year old who had the look of a seasoned player; Ray Robson. In round four, Ray lost to Chavira while Daniel and Larry played to a draw. Last round pairings were Storch-Chavira on board one, and Guadalupe-Ludwig on board two. Daniel was about to finish off Francisco when he misplayed a combination and lost. This opened the way for Wilmer who had to defend against Storch’s pressure.
Steering for the draw, Wilmer Chavira captured his sixth club championship, a record which may stand for many years. Daniel was left to consider that a win for him would have given him the title.
2005, the year of the hurricanes. Melody Manor was checkmated by hurricane Charley and the club championship changed venue to the University Unitarian Church. Instead of a Saturday-Sunday affair, it was played over two consecutive Saturdays. This would be important, because it would allow an extra week for last round preparation. Larry Storch looked like he was out of the running after a loss in round two to visitor, Yevgeniy Postrekhin. But Chavira was derailed by the youngster, Ray Robson. So Robson and Postrekhin were at 3-0, but Yevgeniy was not a CFCC member and ineligible for the title. Would this be the year that a ten year old would win the venerable CFCC crown?
In round four, with a week to prepare something new, Wilmer uncorked 1.d4 against an unfazed Storch. After a time scramble, Chavira was forced to resign after dropping his queen. Meanwhile, Robson drew on board one. In the last round, playing black, Larry defended a Rauzer Sicilian against Ray. On move 19 an exchange sacrifice gave black the initiative which he carried on to the win. The remarkable comeback made Larry Storch (54) the oldest CFCC Champion and gave him his third crown spanning three decades.
Summary of CFCC Champions
1987: Larry Storch, Mark Ryan
1988: Richard Sobel
1989: Nick Schoonmaker
1990: Mark Ryan
1991: Larry Storch
1992: Mike Spedale
1993: Wilmer Chavira
1994: Nick Schoonmaker
1995: Mike Spedale
1996: Wilmer Chavira
1997: Wilmer Chavira
1998: Jeremy Keller
1999: Wilmer Chavira
2000: Andrew Boekhoff
2001: Alfonso Gabbedon
2002: Wilmer Chavira
2003: Francisco Guadalupe
2004: Wilmer Chavira
2005: Larry Storch
2006: Ray Robson
2007: Yilmer Guzman
2008: Daniel Ludwig
2009: Daniel Ludwig
2010: Larry Storch
2011: Larry Storch
2012: John G. Ludwig
2013: Alfonso Gabbedon
2014: John G. Ludwig
2015: John G. Ludwig
2016: Kai Tabor
2017 John G. Ludwig
In 2006, The CFCC Championship returned to Melody Manor. The turnout, like most chess tournaments for the past two years was sparce. The top two players were defending champion, three times CFCC champion, Larry Storch, and newly rated national master, young Ray Robson. The two met in the second round, and reprised the Rauser from last year’s event. Storch varied but inverted moves and Ray was able to get an attack. The veteran Storch jetisoned a pawn to land in a rook and pawn ending with both players having passed pawns. The pawns raced to their queening squares, but black’s king sat on an unfortunate square, and white was able to force resignation by a tempo.
The rest of the tournament held little drama as Ray Robson at age 11 became the youngest CFCC Champion, taking the crown from the oldest CFCC Champion!
The 2007 event was a rebound of sorts. Twenty seven players participated in the tournament, more than twice last year’s number. Top rated players John Nardandrea (2234) and Larry Storch (2200) were the favorites, but Nardandrea took a first round bye and Storch, after achieving a winning ending was held to a draw by relative newcomer, Yilmer Guzman (1970). That left only one player with three points after the first day; young Lucas van Beuzekom 1772). Lucas achieved his third point when his Saturday night opponent, Chuck Hall (2010), after playing a brilliant queen sacrifice, followed up passively and allowed his young opponent a snap mate.
In the fourth round, van Beuzekom lost to Nardandrea, while Storch and Guzman both won. That set up a fifth round matchup of Nardandrea and Storch on board one and van Beuzekom and Gilman on board two. The board one matchup concluded with a quick draw. Now all eyes were on board two. Lucas had an early attack, but Guzman turned the tables with a counterattack and pushed through a victory. This made Yilmer Guzman the 2007 CFCC Champion.
2008: Daniel Ludwig
In 2008, Daniel Ludwig was the overwhelming favorite. Sporting a hefty 2420 rating he raced through his first four opponents. Larry Storch’s loss to 14 yr. old Dalton Perrine (2003), cleared the way for a possible sweep for the soon-to-be Texas Longhorn, but defending champion Yilmer Guzman (1983) stood in the way. Daniel won the exchange, then converted to a better ending. Finally, Yilmer faulted and Daniel Ludwig became the 2008 CFCC Champion.
2009: Daniel Ludwig
The 2009 championship had one of the most exciting finishes in the long history of the event. Defending champion Daniel Ludwig (2500) was rated 300 points ahead of second rated Larry Storch (2214) and fast rising Toby Boas (2156). Indeed, Daniel beat Toby in round three and only Storch who was also 3–0 stood in his way. In the 4th round match up, Storch surprised Ludwig with a pawn sacrifice in the rare Adams variation of the Nimzo Indian. Then black sacrificed his queen before trapping white’s queen! When the fireworks finished, the players agreed to a draw in an even ending.
In the 5th round, Storch faced Boas on first board, as Daniel had taken a bye in the last round! Larry needed a win or a draw and favorable tie-breaks. After a hard-fought draw, Larry and Daniel finished tied for first with 4 points. Tie- breaks favored the veteran. Eventually, the title hung on the last game played. Bill Fink (1870) had the better game against out-rated Derek Laureano (1684). A win or a draw by Fink would give Storch the title. The game drifted into a dead even ending when in time pressure, Fink dropped his rook! This dramatic finish provided Daniel Ludwig with the 2009 title, the first player to repeat as CFCC Champion since 1996-1997.
The 2010 Championship had a totally different feel. Melody Manor, the longtime home of the Central Florida Chess Club was sold. The club found its new home at Alex Zelner’s Orlando Chess and Games center. The turnout was small, but it featured three young exciting future stars of the game, John Ludwig, Amy Tsai and James Barrack. Top rated was Larry Storch (2200) gunning for his fourth championship title and still stinging from 2009’s stunning reversal. Also in the field was 2007 champion, Yilmer Guzman (1975) as well as expert Yevgeniy Postrekin (2014). Upsets started in round one when John Ludwig (underrated at 1552) defeated the 2007 champion, while Amy Tsai (1479) beat Derek Laureano (1762).
Storch defeated Ludwig in round two (gaining a measure of revenge for last year!?) but was held to a draw by Wayne Strickland (1770) in the night round. In round four, Storch defeated Guzman while Strickland and Ludwig drew. The fifth round saw Storch with a half-point lead over Strickland fighting for survival against second rated Postrekin. After an exchange sacrifice turned the tables, Larry offered a tournament clinching draw after seeing Strickland held to a draw by Young. Thus, Larry Storch gained his fourth title while beating his own record as the oldest champion (59).
The 2011 Championship moved to Wirz Park in Casselberry. The field was stronger than several of the past years events with defending champion Larry Storch (2200) heading the field. Storch however was held to a draw in the first round by fast-rising 10 year old John Ludwig (1884) while Dalton Perrine (2169), Nathaniel Lynch (2115), Jeremy Mandelkern (2098) and Chuck Hall (2005) all won. In the second round, Lynch – Mandelkern and Hall – Perrine were drawn.
As the leaders all jockeyed for position, the top four players all had three points heading into the last round. On first board, Storch defended a QGD exchange variation against Mandelkern while Perrine tried to penetrate Ludwig’s Slav. Storch got his queen trapped and resigned, while Perrine held off a desperate attack by the young phenom. Finally, Perrine and Mandelkern tied for first, but since they were not CFCC members prior to the tournament, the title went to Larry Storch on tiebreaks over John Ludwig. The was the fifth title for Storch.
2012: John G. Ludwig
The 2012 championship crowned a first time winner. John Ludwig took a major step in his young chess career by winning the 2012 CFCC Championship. The eleven year old expert tied 2006 champion Ray Robson for youngest player to win the title. Ray was also eleven years old when he won. John however was not the winner of the event. That honor belongs to former CFCC champion Alfonso Gabbedon, who went 4.5-.5 , but did not qualify for the championship since he was not a CFCC member 30 days prior to the event.
The event was hard fought as three former club champions participated. Gabbedon won the event in 2001 while Yilmer Guzman was the 2007 champion. Larry Storch was a five time champion, winning in 1987 (!), 1991, 2005, 2010 and 2011.
There were several upsets and hard fought games along the way starting in the very first round. Cesar Gonell (1584) who has made dramatic improvement this year drew with Jose Mendez on board three. Mendez from Cuba was given a provisional USCF rating of 2200 and had a good result in this month’s Central Florida Championship. In the second round, Guzman-Storch was the last game to finish when in mutual time pressure, Larry was able to win a difficult ending.
Round three saw Ludwig make short work of Mendez while Storch had another long game against Gabbedon with the Cuban master winning after a blunder on move 34 allowed black to sacrifice a rook to achieve a winning position. Guzman was knocked out of the tournament by another improbable result from Gonell who won despite being a piece down. In round four, Ludwig and Gabbedon drew while Storch ground down Wayne Strickland.
That set up a last round of Ludwig - Storch on board one and Mendez - Gabbedon on board two. Storch accepted Ludwig’s draw offer in a position they repeated from last year’s event. Meanwhile Gabbedon got a measure of revenge against the player who beat him in the Central Fl. championship two weeks ago by winning a quick game. Alfonso picked up the first place check of $150 while Ludwig got the title. Storch finished third.
The 2013 event was remarkable for several reasons. This year’s tournament was held as last year’s, was at Casselberry’s Wirz park. It boasted three masters and two experts as well as several young players trying to make their mark in chess. One of those masters, however, was not Larry Storch, as he skipped this year’s edition breaking a streak of 26 consecutive years playing in the tournament! At the end of the first day, Dalton Perrine (2284) held the lead at 3-0. His win over John Ludwig (2118), knocked back last year’s title holder. Alfonso Gabbedon (2204) and Toby Boas (2200) were a half game back at 2.5; Alfonso being held to a draw by Phillip Bauer (2040) and Toby utilyzing a half point bye in round one.
Sunday morning saw some small changes. Perrine took a 4th round bye, while Ludwig won and Gabbedon-Boas was a perfunctory draw. Round five saw decisive games on the top three board. Gabbedon absorbed Perrine’s early pressure on board one and finished his opponent off with a pretty mate. Boas - Ludwig on board two saw both players attacking an unsafe king. Toby prevailed to earn the full point. A third player finished with four points as well as Bauer beat Michael Leavitt (1841) with a classic windmill attack. In the end, It was Alfonso Gabbedon winning the title on tiebreaks. His second CFCC title and third championship victory.
2014: John G. Ludwig
The 2014 Central Florida Chess Club Championship was held at the Unitarian Church near UCF. There were 18 participants, but it looked like top-rated master John Ludwig would have no competition as Storch, Boas, Perrine, Gabbedon and new master Krienke were not in attendance. Prior to the third round however, both Gabbedon the 2001 and 2013 champion and Krienke entered the tournament with two half-point byes for the two rounds they missed.
After day one, both John and A player Andres Hernandez (1874) had three points while Krienke and Gabbedon were a full point behind. Round four saw the game of the tournament. Ludwig, playing black against Gabbedon quickly reached a lost position. He decided to sacrifice the exchange on e5 which Alfonso ignored. Then John got his knight trapped on f4 but again, white failed to find a way to cash in.
Time trouble set in, as both players played to mate the other. John picked off a rook which caused Alfonso to take refuse in a perpetual check. The only trouble was, he gave check on the wrong square (e8 instead of the correct e6 square) and was left down in material. John managed a mating net playing only on the five second increment.
That game decided the championship. Ludwig took a short draw in round five against second place finisher Hernandez who had taken a half point bye in round four, to finish the tournament at 4.5-.5, winning his second club championship.
2015: John G. LUDWIG
Ludwig won $250 for his effort plus a nice Championship plaque and the honor to retain the club's Championship Trophy for yet another year! He also won the top prize in the 2014-2015 CFCC Tournament Grand Prix for another $175.
Other Club Championship winners were: Makaio Krienke (2216), Jose Rafael Baeza (2105), Kai Tabor (1868) and Martin Hansen (2068), all finishing with 1½ points behind Ludwig (2349) and splitting the 2nd, 3rd & Under 2000 prizes which totaled $325. New CFCC members Ricky Durbin (1525) and Zachary Robertson (1406) tied with Ryan Hamley (1680) for the Under 1800 and Under 1600 prizes, as each received $50.
Aarush Prasad won the remaining Under 1400 prize of $75. Club Championship Plaques were also awarded, including one to the Top Under Age 16. Though Ludwig is still under 16, he has graciously indicated that we could make this award available to another player now that he has won a number of them. Jackie Liu (1939) won the Top Under Age 16 on tiebreaks over Ryan Hamley.
Other CFCC Tournament Grand Prix winners were also announced. Camille Sibbitt and Carter Yaskovic both gathered enough points from previous events to finish tied for 2nd and 3rd, giving each $112.50. Paul Leggett came in 4th receiving $100, while Cesar Gonell and Brandon Sibbitt had enough Grand Prix points to split the 5th place $100 prize.
A total of 24 players played in this year's Club Championship tournament event which was held at our UUUS tournament facility near UCF in Orlando. The tournament was organized by Harvey Lerman who also served as Chief Tournament Director. The CFCC Tournament Grand Prix program was administrated by Wayne Strickland
With the absence of 3-time club champion John Ludwig at the 2016 CFCC Club Championship, the opportunity for a new champion to take possession of the club trophy for the year was available to many who played in the tournament this past weekend. The battle at board one in the final round came down to two talented young experts, Theo Slade (2039) vs Kai Tabor (2034), with Kai winning the 2016 Championship on tiebreaks.
2017: John G. LUDWIG
CFCC 2017 Club Championship recap to be posted soon!