Iowans at the 2016 US Open - Part 1

Several Iowans and former Iowans competed in the 2016 US Open in Indianapolis, Indiana. I asked them to share their games, photos, and thoughts about the tournament here.

NM Petros Karagianis

NM Pete Karagianis, rated 2281, finished the 9-round tournament with 6.0. His only loss was to GM Illia Nyzhnyk. Karagianis currently resides in Illinois, but many will remember attending his chess club in Ames.

U.S. Open photo courtesy of Pete Karagianis. Credit: Anne Buskirk


Pete Karagianis says: I enjoyed the US Open. Despite playing the six-day schedule, I still managed to play only one game per day for three days, which was a much more relaxed schedule than your typical American tournament. The US Open also had a festival-like atmosphere, with a steady flow of side events, committee meetings, and guests. I hope it's close enough to play again soon.


CM James Neal

CM James Neal of Iowa City finished with 5.5 points and a post-tournament rating of 2199. If he can gain just 1 more rating point at the Iowa Open, our state will have a new NM!

James Neal, May 2016. [Credit: Bethany Carson]




Michael Takahashi

Michael Takahashi, rated 1875, finished with 5.0. Michael is one of Iowa's young up-and-coming players. Below, he and his father, Christian Schmitz, detail their experience.


Michael Takahashi says: It was an interesting game. My opponent played the London, but I was able to change the position into a more favorable Queen’s Indian structure. My coach, James Neal, was a bit disappointed that I didn’t press on in what could have been a winning position. Now I know better not to do that again.


Christian Schmitz says: U.S. Chess and the Disney Corporation hosted a special advance screening of Queen of Katwe during the U.S. Open, which I was able to attend. The movie is scheduled for release on September 23, 2016. Queen of Katwe is a biographical drama about Phiona Mutesi, a Ugandan chess player who participated in three Chess Olympiads despite growing up in abject poverty, and her coach Robert Katende.


Our commemorative ticket contained a quote by Tim Crothers, who wrote an ESPN Magazine article and book about Phiona, which served as the basis for the movie. According to Crothers, Queen of Katwe is the ultimate underdog story, because “to be African is to be an underdog in the world. To be Ugandan is to be an underdog in Africa. To be from Katwe is to be an underdog in Uganda. And finally, to be a female is to be an underdog in Katwe.”


Queen of Katwe - Official Trailer


Thanks to Pete, James, Michael and Christian for sharing their U.S. Open experience!

Stay tuned for Part 2...and send in your games from the tournament to be included!


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