• James Neal

Prairie Winter Classic 2019

by James Neal (Iowa City Chess Coach)



Your Success is My Success! :)

I woke up this morning disturbed, I realized there was a good 6 inches of snow on the ground. Today, I thought would be a good day to stay inside and keep my old car in the parking lot but I realized my students are going to war and they were in need of their commander.

Since so many of my students participated in this event I will focus my attention on my high performers.


This year I had taken on the challenge of starting my own chess school. Borlaug Elementary has been in a rebuilding stage but we have raised our numbers to about 30 this year. Since our students are relatively new we didn't have any realistic prospects of winning the event but our goal was to put up a fight and possibly pick up some awards.


The stars of Borlaug this event were: Avaneesh & Saifan. They were able to pick up some gold in their sections. There were about 4 or 5 Borlaug chess students participating in this event so I'd have to say we had a strong showing. Borlaug may be turning the corner. It might be just a year or 2 before they are one of the chess powerhouses of Coralville/Iowa City.



In the K-3 Open section I had quite a few students participating but my prediction of the winner was Wyatt Hammes (829). He is a joy to work with because his passion for the game rivals my own.


I knew he was going to do good in his section but I didn't realize he beat everyone he played until Jim mentioned it during the awards ceremony.


Wyatt won K-3 Open section with a score of 5.0/5.0!

In the K-12 U1400 section I wasn't stacked at all I had Niko Nixon as my top student. He is also, coincidentally, the top kid in the Wickham Elementary chess club. On his good days, I would consider his skills to be unmatched in the U1400 section... Oh... This was one of his good days.

Niko won the K-12 U1400 section with a score of 3.5/4.0!

In the K-12 Open section I had one of my standouts signed up (Owen Fiedorowicz). He came into the event rated 1833 as the top seed. Since he had won the Prairie Fall Classic with a score of 3.0/3.0 I was confident of his chances. Right below him was A.J. Kozich and Anjaneya Rao. I was more concerned with Anjaneya than A.J. because Anjaneya had started 2018 rated 550 and came to the event at 1719... Dang... A.J was the 2nd seed and actually had a very good 2018 but we had several games so there was no surprise factor.


Owen was able to beat his first round opponent Anjaneya's father and then A. J. Kozich in a tougher bout than Prairie Fall Classic 2018. The critical game was round 3 Owen getting the black pieces against Anjaneya. I was expecting the Spanish but we got the Italian. I thought the middle game looked pretty good for Owen because he had a huge space advantage on the kingside but when I came back to look at the position it was a war zone. It was so complicated I had to leave because I was too tired to calculate. When I came back things had calmed down and Owen was ahead a Rook vs. a Knight and 2 pawns. I thought the game was going to take some time so I left and when I came back for the final time, Owen had a much simpler ending, a 2 rooks and 2 pawns vs. a Rook and a pawn.


Owen had won the K-12 Open section with a score of 3.0/3.0!



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