The 2018 Triangle April Open (2-star) ran last Saturday, with 55 players and 5 different events. In the U600, 8 players competed in a round robin group to determine the players to make it onto the podium. With several players rated very closely, this group was up for grabs from the get go. Top seeds Richard Frye (429) and Kevin Littlewood (382) played well, but nobody could stop the eventual winner. Akhila Chitti (144) was the 4-seed when the day started, but she quickly established herself as the player to beat at the morning progressed. The young local beat all four players seeded below her, dropping only a single game in the process. However, when it came time to play the top 3 seeds in the group, she did it unscathed, beating them all 3-0. Akhila’s first ever tournament was our 2017 April Open and she has made big jumps recently, going up over 200 points in her last two tournaments. Congratulations Akhila!
The U1100 event was taking place at the same time, but with almost twice as many players. Overall top seed Zach Smith (1054) from West Virginia never flirted with a loss in the round robin stage, dispensing of everyone with ease. The other player to emerge from Group 1 was #5 seed Andy Sun (728), who went 5-1 to upset the order and give himself a chance to finish in the money. In Group 2, Ayush Jain (807) went undefeated from the 3 slot, while Andy’s brother Kevin Sun (903) also went 5-1 and into the semis. The top seeds had their hands full to get into the finals, though. Zach squared off with Kevin and pulled out a close match (6,9,-9,9) as Ayush was able to close out his own nail-biter against Andy (-9,9,9,7). In a show of sportsmanship and brotherly respect, Kevin and Andy shared 3rd place, opting not to play against each other. In the finals, Zach and Ayush had a seesaw battle, with Zach squeezing it out 11-9 in the fifth and final game. Congrats Zach!
The next event up was the U1650. In Group 1, overall top seed Allan Anzagira’s (1645) unique style gave most players fits, combining heavy sidespin lobs with blistering forehands back from the table. An early upset, though, came from highly underrated Sangram Kadam (882), who ended up going undefeated in group play. This resulted in Allan coming out as the #2 seed. The favorite in Group 2 was Jay Nelson (1641) from West Virginia. Jay only lost one game en route to the semifinals, and John Pahl (1512) maintained his position in second. In the semifinals, Gram found himself down 2-1 with a spot in the finals on the line. He rallied to win game four at deuce (13-11) and then took game comfortably at 11-5. In semi #2, Jay handled Allan’s unorthodox play with easy, winning in straight games (4,5,7). In the 3rd place match, Allan gave John a little more than he could handle, winning 3-1 (6,-9,4,9). Jay Nelson took his momentum into the finals against Sangram and, though each game was tight (9,9,11), claimed another 3-0 victory to become the U1650 champion. Congratulations Jay!
The U2150 was the highest rated event of the day. Advancement in the event was much more traditional, with the top two seeds in each group moving on to the knockout stage. In Semifinal #1, club members Chris Xiao (2067) and Jerred Miklowcic (1992) had a really tough match. Jerred won games 1 and 2 and had a commanding 8-1 lead in the 3rd when Chris came to and changed tactics. Xiao was able to fight back and win game 3 15-13, staving off multiple match points in the process. With the momentum firmly on his side and Miklowcic rattled from losing such a large lead, Chris went on to win games 4 and 5 and cement his spot in the finals. In Semi #2, Moustapha Nasser (1913) and Cameron Smith (1978) went back and forth, trading the first 4 games with the loser each time only scoring 5 points. In the decisive fifth game, Moustapha was able to edge out Cameron 11-9 and set up a meeting with Chris in the finals. Jerred, unable to recover mentally from the letdown in the semis, ended up defaulting the 3rd place match, giving Cameron the podium spot. The finals pitted Chris against Moustapha, with Chris having won 6 of their last 7 meetings. Moustapha gave it his all but the trend continued, as Chris mixed sound technique with seemingly odd shot choices and won in 4 (-7,8,12,8). Congratulations Chris!
The last event remaining was just for fun, a 51-Point Handicap Event. For people that aren’t familiar, Handicap Events try to even the odds for all players, regardless of rating level. For example, if a 1528 player goes up against a 1266, the 1266 player would start their single game to 51 with a 19-point head start based on the rubric. This type of system tends to favor lower rated players and up and coming players that are currently underrated. Young Bryan Zeng (366 pre tournament, 932 post) tore through his competitors one by one en route to the finals, coming up the A side of the double elimination bracket. On the bottom half of the bracket, Rick Merced (560) went up against Sara Gulabani (56) for a chance against Bryan in the finals. Rick was able to overcome Sara’s 29 point spot and found himself facing off with the undefeated Zeng, meaning he would have to beat him twice to claim the title. Bryan started with 15 points but didn’t seem to need them, as he went on to beat Rick 51-29. Congratulations Bryan!
For more pictures from the tournament, check out our Facebook album.