Jordan Berson Wins NL Open 2019

The Newfoundland and Labrador Open 2019 was held on the weekend of October 19-21 at the Guv’nor Inn and MUN Science Building. Jordan Berson won the event in clear first with an undefeated 4.5/5 score. This is his third NL Open win. Congratulations, Jordan!


Considering the long time control of 120 minutes + 30 seconds increment per game, playing five games in three days made for a gruelling event, but Jordan was up to the task. Two key games against second place Xingbo Huang and third place Steve Martin are included in the Games Corner link.

Congratulations also go out to Xingbo Huang, who finished in second place, just a half point behind Jordan with 4/5. Xingbo was also the only junior participating. Daniel Efford, Gary Mahon, and Steve Martin finished in a tie for third place, while Daniel won best performance prize with 3/5 and the biggest rating jump.

Ten players in total participated including three players – Martin Whelan, Amit Neghandi, and Jonathan Gosse – who were playing their first classical tournament. Blair Ozon and Gary Mahon were playing their first event in two years. Notable absences included the NL Open 2017 and 2018 champion Roger Langen, Ray MacIsaac, Morley Payne, and Nihad Dervisevic. We hope to see you playing again soon. Big thank you to Blair Ozon who donated a puzzle book and a Budapest Gambit book which were won by Xingbo Huang and Jonathan Gosse as door prizes.

The next event will be the weekend of November 29-December 1. It will be similar structure, but 60 minutes + 30 second increment per game. I hope to see some of you back for that event. Below is the complete crosstable with updated ratings. Thanks to everyone for participating! 🙂

# Player Old Perf New High Results Total
1 Berson, Jordan S. 2053 2037 2063 2201 +5 +2 +4 +6 =3 4.5
2 Huang, Xingbo 1827 1855 1832 24 +8 -1 =3 +0 +4 3.5
3 Efford, Daniel 1583 1846 1676 1676 +6 -4 =2 +8 =1 3.0
4 Martin, Steve 2003 1774 1972 2107 +7 +3 -1 +5 -2 3.0
5 Mahon, Gary 1582 1761 1629 19 -1 +8 +9 -4 +6 3.0
6 Gosse, Jonathan 0 1540 1540 5 -3 +7 +10 -1 -5 2.0
7 Wong, Danny 1336 1445 1372 12 -4 -6 -8 +10 +0 2.0
8 Negandhi, Amit 0 1404 1404 4 -2 -5 +7 -3 -0 1.0
9 Whelan, Martin 0 1345 1345 2 =10 =0 -5 -0 -0 1.0
10 Ozon, Blair R. 1636 1168 1461 8 =9 =0 -6 -7 -0 1.0

Roger Langen Wins NL Open 2018

Roger Langen successfully defended his title as provincial champion and won over tough competition with a very nice 4/5 score. Congratulations Roger! This is his 7th NL Open win. The Newfoundland and Labrador Open 2018 was held at the MUN Engineering building in St. John’s from October 19-21.

Langen was instrumental in starting the annual championship in 1969 and in stirring interest in chess in the province in the 70’s. Winning the NL Open two years in a row – at 68 and 69 years of age – is a testament to his longevity and tenacity.

Four players finished a half point below Roger in shared 2nd with 3.5/5: Daley Merrigan, Nihad Dervisevic, Lawrence Cohen, and myself.
Under-1700 prize was shared between Ben Chislett and Jacob Burton with 2/5 points.

Congrats to all the winners! Here are the complete standings:

# Player Old Perf New High Results Total
1 Langen, Roger 2048 2158 2070 2288 +8 +15 +7 =6 =2 4.0
2 Cohen, Lawrence 1943 2163 1972 2026 =0 =0 +11 +3 =1 3.5
3 Merrigan, Daley 2077 2025 2060 15 +12 =6 +9 -2 +7 3.5
4 Martin, Steve 2107 2007 2096 2107 =0 -7 +16 +9 +6 3.5
5 Dervisevic, Nihad 2044 1900 2030 2113 +14 =0 -6 +11 +8 3.5
6 Kowsari, Mohammadreza 1930 2068 1979 1979 +13 =3 +5 =1 -4 3.0
7 McIsaac, Raymond 1891 1909 1895 1928 +16 +4 -1 =8 -3 2.5
8 Pickard, Ryan 1718 1854 1763 1763 -1 +14 +12 =7 -5 2.5
9 Fudge, Brandon 1816 1761 1796 11 =11 +0 -3 -4 +13 2.5
10 Byrne, Michael 1761 1657 1742 1761 -15 -11 +17 =12 +16 2.5
11 Chislett, Benjamin 1580 1772 1623 1623 =9 +10 -2 -5 =12 2.0
12 Huang, Xingbo 1744 1683 1714 10 -3 +13 -8 =10 =11 2.0
13 Burton, Jacob Stephen 1679 1681 1680 8 -6 -12 +14 +16 -9 2.0
14 Bamzad, Sayyedvahid 1702 1476 1573 7 -5 -8 -13 +0 +17 2.0
15 Berson, Jordan S. 2106 1905 2091 2201 +10 -1 -0 -0 -0 1.0
16 Payne, Morley 1611 1460 1582 1701 -7 +0 -4 -13 -10 1.0
17 Clowe, Issiah 1262 1332 1276 10 =0 -0 -10 =0 -14 1.0

Thanks to everyone for coming out. Daley Merrigan, Michael Byrne, and Ray McIsaac all came quite a long way from the west coast to play, while Morley Payne came for the second time this year from the Northern Peninsula. We also had Roger Langen from Nova Scotia and Lawrence Cohen who traveled here from the US.

Thanks so much to Mohammad Kowsari for booking the Engineering conference room playing area, and also the lounge nearby as an analysis room.
Also thanks to Jordan Berson for providing coffee and snacks on Saturday. 🙂
Thanks as well to Brian Oliver who donated several books as door prizes again this year. Almost everyone participating got a book, and there were some nice ones.

I have added some more pictures below. I’ll try to share some games from the event soon. Keep an eye on the ‘Games Corner’ link for updates. It was a pleasure to play and see you all. Hope to see you soon.

GM Eric Hansen plays in 2018 February Knights

It’s rare for a Grandmaster to play in St. John’s or Newfoundland. GM Mark Bluvshtein played a Canadian Chess Challenge as an IM near Memorial University around 2002. And in 2013, GM Aman Hambleton (former NL resident, then an IM), participated in and won the NL Open. Big congrats to Aman on recently achieving his GM title!

Much earlier, GM Bent Larsen, GM Pal Benko, and GM Walter Browne played a Canadian Open held in St. John’s in 1970 (48 years ago!). I was able to find a detailed article on the event written by Vojin Vujosevic, who participated in the tournament. Check it out

It was a real treat that GM Eric Hansen was able to come play our weekend swiss event (February 16-18). He’s still just 25 years old and his chess resume, to name just a few items I’m aware of, includes:

  • two-time winner of the Canadian Open
  • currently rated 2629 FIDE (a personal best)
  • challenger to world champion Magnus Carlsen in lengthy online blitz and bullet matches
  • live commentator for prestigious events in Saint Louis and the recent 2018 Tata Steel masters tournament in Wijk an Zee
  • creator of Chessbrah channels and business. The original chessbrah

The chessbrahs are very popular chess streamers on Twitch and YouTube. They often play bullet (1-minute), time odds games, and blindfold games at a ridiculously high level – often while listening to dance/techno music. They also provide commentary for many popular high level chess tournaments such as the Candidates. Eric, Aman Hambleton, Robin Van Kampen, and other chessbrah members have done a lot to promote chess in Canada and their fanbase extends beyond that as well.

Part of Eric’s motivation for coming to Newfoundland was to fulfill rated game requirements to play the chess Olympiad later this year in Georgia. He also wanted to visit the province since he hadn’t been here before. It was really awesome of him to give his time to play this event, and to hang out and chat.

We had a number of talented new players come out to play, including Xingbo Huang, Brandon Fudge, Nithum Thain, and Curtis Mullaly. Multi-time NL Open champion Anthony Leonard also participated after a bit of a layoff, which was great to see. There was a lot of excitement in the air, for sure. Big thanks to Mohammad Kowsari for reserving the MUN Engineering Lounge for the event.


February Knights – Round 2. Photo by: Michael Pickard

The 5-round, 3-day tournament kept everyone pretty busy, but we were still able to bring Eric to O’Reilly’s on George Street in downtown St. John’s for some traditional music and drinks, and to see some local people. A group of us also had dinner and chatted with Eric at a restaurant/brewery called Yellowbelly on Sunday evening. It is really impressive that he has higher ambitions with his chess and with his Chessbrah business, which continues to grow rapidly.

Eric also encouraged us all to come out for dinner and blitz after round 3 on Saturday. He dominated the games from what I could tell, but it was a blast.


Fun blitz after Round 3. Credit: Michael Pickard

At the tournament itself, which was played at 60 minutes per player with 30 second increments, Eric won with a score of 5/5 against Ryan Pickard, Nihad Dervisevic, Anthony Leonard, Jordan Berson, and Steve Martin. He was never really in trouble in any of the games! Congratulations! As mentioned previously, some new players had some very nice performances. Xingbo made draws with Anthony and Mohammad, Brandon won against 2017 NL Open co-champ Jiaying and he drew against Anthony, Curtis drew against Steve, and Nithum gave Nihad a really hard fight in a losing effort. Full standings here.

Here are two of Eric’s games against Jordan and Steve (Jordan, Mohammad, and I shared second place):

[Event “February Knights”]
[Round “4”]
[White “Jordan S. Berson”]
[Black “Eric Hansen”]
1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. g3 { E00 Catalan Opening } c5 4. Nf3 cxd4 5. Nxd4 Nc6 6. Bg2 Bc5 7. Nb3 Be7 8. O-O O-O 9. Nc3 b6 10. Nd4 Bb7 11. Bf4 Na5 12. Bxb7 Nxb7 13. e4 Bb4 14. e5 Bxc3 15. exf6 Bxd4 16. Qxd4 Qxf6 17. Be5 Qg6 18. Qxd7 Nc5 19. Qd1 h5 20. h4 Rad8 21. Qe2 Nd3 22. Bc3 e5 23. Rad1 e4 24. Qe3 f5 25. Qg5 Qf7 26. Kh2 Rd6 27. f3 Rg6 28. Qxh5 Nf4 29. gxf4 Rg2+ 30. Kxg2 Qxh5 31. Rd7 Rf7 32. Rxf7 Kxf7 33. Be1 Qg6+ 34. Bg3 Qf6 35. b3 e3 36. Re1 Qb2+ 37. Kf1 Qd2 38. Re2 Qd3 39. Bh2 Qd1+ { White resigns. } 0-1

[Event “February Knights”]
[Round “5”]
[White “Eric Hansen”]
[Black “Steve Martin”]
1. e4 g6 2. d4 Bg7 3. Nc3 d6 4. f4 Nf6 5. Nf3 O-O 6. Bd3 { B09 Pirc Defense: Austrian Attack, Weiss Variation } Nc6 7. e5 dxe5 8. fxe5 Nd5 9. Nxd5 Qxd5 10. c3 Bg4 11. Qe2 Rad8 12. Be4 Bxf3 13. Qxf3 Qb5 14. Qe2 Qxe2+ 15. Kxe2 f6 16. exf6 Rxf6 17. Bf3 Rf7 18. Bg4 Kf8 19. Be6 Rf6 20. d5 h6 21. g4 g5 22. h4 gxh4 23. g5 hxg5 24. Bxg5 Rxe6+ 25. dxe6 Rd6 26. Raf1+ Ke8 27. Rxh4 Rxe6+ 28. Kd1 b5 29. a4 b4 30. cxb4 Bxb2 31. b5 Nd4 32. Rf2 Bc3 33. Bd2 Rd6 34. Rh3 Bxd2 35. Rxd2 c6 36. Rh4 e5 37. Rh5 cxb5 38. Rxe5+ Kd7 39. axb5 Ne6 40. Rh5 Rxd2+ 41. Kxd2 Kc7 42. Kc3 Nd8 43. Kb4 Nb7 44. Rh6 Nd6 45. Ka5 Nc8 46. Ka6 Nd6 47. Rxd6 Kxd6 48. Kxa7 { Black resigns. } 1-0

Thanks to everyone for coming out, and big thanks to Eric for playing and spending time here.

Jiaying Wang and Roger Langen Win NL Open 2017

(cross posted from Facebook with some additional info)

The NL Open this year came down to the wire with 4 players tied with 3/4 going in to the final round, so these two games had the most on the line. Roger Langen won over Rob Moloney and Jiaying Wang won over Mohammad Kowsari. There won’t be a tiebreak this year so 1st place is shared between Roger Langen and Jiaying Wang (pictured below). Congratulations!!


Currently retired and residing in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, Roger Langen previously won the provincial championship in 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, and 1974. His sixth win in 2017 puts him in a tie with Warrick Walker for the all-time record. This is the first time Jiaying Wang has played the NL Open and she tied for first as part of a very strong field while still a junior player!  She is attending her final year of high school at Holy Heart. She is also the co-winner of the 2017 U18 U16 girls Canadian Youth Chess Championship.

3rd place prize was shared between Mohammad Kowsari and Ray McIsaac.
Top under-1700 was shared between Brian Oliver and Rob Moloney. Congrats to all the winners.

1st place two-way tie – 40% + 30% = $167.50 to each
3rd place tie – 15% = to $35 to both players
under-1700 -15% = $35 to both players
Great performances by many players, including Rob, Ben, Gary, and Brian.

See the complete standings here.

Big thanks to everyone for coming out, especially those like Ray McIsaac and Morley Payne who had quite a long trip from other areas of the province. It was great seeing you again. I hope everyone enjoyed the tournament.

Thanks as well to Morley for contributing a generous donation to the prize fund.
Brian Oliver generously donated five chess books as door prizes which were won by tournament participants in a random draw. Thanks to Brian for those.

I’d like to thank Mohammad, Jordan, and Nihad for help and advice leading up to the tournament and with organizing this tournament as well.

Jordan Berson is 2015 NL Champion!

The 2015 NL Open was played at Memorial University in St. John’s from Oct 16-18, and after five rounds Jordan Berson was crowned provincial champion.  Jordan also won the event after a playoff in 2009, but this time he needed no extra time to polish off the competition, scoring four wins and a draw against the toughest the field had to offer.

And what a field!  Seventeen players, including five former NL champions, with representation from both coasts and Labrador.  Not bad, considering that there are 18 current CFC members in the province!

Second place was shared by Sudharaka Palamakumbura (the only player to nick a half-point from Jordan, and the only other player to go undefeated), and Ray McIsaac, who more than justified his long trip over from the west coast with four wins.

Mohammed Reza Kowsari won the “best performance” prize, Ryan Pickard took home the top junior prize (donated by Ray McIsaac), and Anthony Leonard won the door prize (donated by Steve Martin).

Anthony Leonard ably organized and directed the tournament, with assistance from many quarters.  Morgon Mills hosted round 4 as a “luxury round” at the Guv’nor Inn, and several players contributed generously to the prize fund and to organizational expenses.

A meeting was held to discuss future event organization, with the following results:

  • the 2016 NL Open is scheduled for Oct. 21-23, 2016
  • weekend events will be held quarterly in 2016 (alternating organizers, with Anthony Leonard assisting)
  • Mohammed Reza Kowsari will organize the January tournament
  • Steve Martin will organize the April tournament
  • Ryne King will organize the July tournament
  • Anthony Leonard will organize the NL Open

2015 nl open

NL Open 2015 Participants (L to R): Morgon Mills, Sudharaka Palamakumbura, Jordan Berson, Mohammed Reza Kowsari, Peter Noftall, Steve Martin, Anthony Leonard, Aubrey Noftall (rear), Ryan Pickard, Brian Oliver, Ryne King, Nihad Dervisevic, Ray McIsaac, Rob Moloney, Travis Bailey, and Morley Payne.  Not pictured: Isaac Adejuwon.



Updated Tournament Announcement

2015 St. John’s Summer Open

Organizer/ Tournament Director:
Chris White
Room C2026, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John’s
July 10th, 11th & 12th, 2015
Annual Chess Federation of Canada membership ($44 per year adult, $29 per year junior). Can be purchased at the tournament.
$5 tournament entry fee (waved if you are buying/renewing a membership)
Time control:
SD 75 minutes + 30 second increment.
By donation – to be determined.
Please bring your own sets and clocks if you have them.
Recording of moves with chess notation is mandatory (unless you have less than 5 minutes left on an analogue clock).
Games will be rated by the Chess Federation of Canada.
Round Times:
Round 1: Friday July 10th 6pm
Round 2: Saturday July 11th 9am
Round 3: Saturday July 11th 6pm
Round 4: Sunday July 12th 9am
Round 5: Sunday July 12th 6pm
2 half-point byes available in any round if announced to the TD before the start of round one.
For more information or to pre-register contact Chris White:
cell: text or call (780)821-0044
Feel free to print this off and post it in a public place or forward it on to a friend.
If you can’t commit to a weekend tournament, why not try the
Greater St. John’s Chess League:

Wednesday nights July 8th – 29th, 6pm (revised schedule).

Time Control – game in 75 minutes with 30 increments.
Cost – Games will be rated by the Chess Federation of Canada, membership required – see above.
Place: MUN C2026. Cost: $5 entry fee. Half point byes available at any time.
Prizes: Honor, glory and rating points.


Tournament Announcement, March 20-22, St. John’s

Our first rated Standard event of the year will be taking place this weekend.  I have already mentioned this to players that were present at last Tuesday’s chess meet.  Morgon Mills, one of our highest rated players who represented us well at the Canadian Closed a couple of years back, will be in attendance.  Details are as follows:

Entry fee: $15 ($10 for Juniors and Seniors)  CFC Membership is required this event.  It is currently priced at $44 a year.  For those renewing their memberships or purchasing a new one, the entry fee for the event will be waived.

Time controls: 75 minutes + 30 second increment added after every move.

Tournament format: Swiss, 5 rounds (if we get 6 or more players).  Half-point byes will be available if requested in advance, however they won’t be available for the final round.

Time and location:

Registration: Friday March 20th, 6pm

Round 1: March 20th, 6:30pm
Rounds 2 and 3: March 21th, 9am and 12:30pm
Rounds 4 and 5: March 22nd 9am and 12:30pm
The tournament will be at MUN.  Friday and Saturday we will be at the Chem-Phys building, in room C-2026.  This was the location of the NL Open last year.  However, on Sunday we will be in a different room: in the nearby Science building in SN-2036.  We were unable to get the same room for the entire weekend unfortunately.

The prize structure remains TBD by the number of attendants.  Morgon has generously offered to pay the rating fees so the fund will be 100% of the entry fees.

Those that are intending to play in this event, please let me know by e-mail or phone: (709) 770-6579.  Please bring boards and clocks if possible.

-Anthony Leonard

2014 Labrador Championship

The Barry Flynn Trophy was unveiled this January, with plaques for Labrador chess champions Bryn Wood 2013 and Morgon Mills 2014.  The trophy was locally made by woodworker Nick McGrath, and will be awarded annually to the winner of the Labrador Open tournament.

This year, as in 2013, the tournament was in two stages–but this time the first stage wound up with a massive tie for qualification places, in which no one was a pushover and everyone won at least one game.  In the end, the finals were a five-player round robin played over a few weeks, with more than one nail-biting finish.  Check out the games corner to see with your own eyes.


Barry Flynn poses with the trophy named after him.  Barry is an excellent woodworker himself, and has made a beautiful chess table of different kinds and grains of wood.




Anthony Leonard is 2014 NL Champion!

 A big thank you to everyone who attended the NL Open this year. Anthony Leonard was the undefeated champion with 4.5, drawing only to Steve Martin. Nihad Dervisevic came in second with 4.0 points, losing only one game, to Anthony. As well the redoubtable Brian Oliver defeated three players, and played excellent games against much higher rated opponents. We awarded Brian the prize for best performance. Ryan Pickard received the prize for best junior.

We would like to thank Steve Martin, Peter Noftall, Chris White, Morgon Mills, Alick Tsui, Jordan Berson, Chris Dawson, and Michael Pickard for their help in making this year’s NL Open a success. In particular we’d like to thank Ray McIsaac for his generous $100 donation, and Alick Tsui for his generous $30 donation.

-Peter Deal and Anthony Leonard

Selected game scores are posted here.

nl open 2014

NLCA Meeting

A general meeting has been called for Friday, 26th September at 6:00 pm, prior to the NL Open.  Please turn out if at all possible, even if you are not playing!