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  • Dennis McGrath

Sean Nagle, Ashton Jin win Minnesota Open

IM Sean Nagle and Ashton Jin were the co-winners of the 127th Annual Minnesota Open, held Feb. 14-16.


Both scored 4.0/5 in the Open section of the tournament, held at the Crowne Plaza hotel near the Mall of America and the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.


The tournament, the oldest consecutive state open championship in the U.S. – dating to 1894 – drew 190 players, including 19 from eight other states and Canada.


Sean (USCF 2527) was playing in his first rated tournament in seven months, as work, parenting and marathon training limit his chess time. He was held to a first-round draw by Hersh Singh (USCF 2090) from Wisconsin, but then shook off the rust and won his next three games before a final-round draw with Andrew Titus (USCF 2325).


Ashton’s draw occurred in the third round against Joseph Truelson (USCF 2259), and he took a fourth-round bye. In the final round, Ashton (USCF 2222) defeated Kevin Wasiluk in a game where Ashton was completely bottled up, but when he finally managed to free his position he got a passed pawn that proved too much for Kevin.


In the other divisions:


James Foster and Alex Braun (of North Dakota) shared first place in the Amateur section, each with 4.5/5. A group of five players shared 3rd – 7th place, each with 3.5/5.


The Reserve section also had a tie for first place between Mike Schecter (of Maryland) and Nathyn Jiro Fine, each with 5/6.


The Sophomore section had a sole winner – Eric Jensen, with 5.5/6.


And the Bantam section also had one winner – Judson Martin, with 5.5/6. That section was the largest, with 66 players.


The event, with David Kuhns and Jiten Patel as tournament directors, included players from Wisconsin, North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland and Washington state, plus Manitoba.


The Minnesota Chess Hall of Fame induction ceremony was held before the final round. The four inductees were Alex Balandin, a four-time Minnesota State Champion and chess coach; Ted Haugan, who coached Lincoln Elementary to four consecutive National Elementary Championships from 1977-80; Nels Truelson, who scored an astounding 9-0 in winning the Minnesota State Championship in 1988 (not to mention 12 South Dakota State Championships); and Ed Conway, a tournament organizer and director, editor of the Minnesota Chess Journal and an all-around volunteer who is “the glue” that holds the Minnesota State Chess Association together.


A crowd of about 150 people – many of them Haugan’s former student-players and fellow teachers – attended the induction.


The Minnesota Closed playoffs are scheduled for March 20-22 at the Chess Castle.

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