52 chess players competed at the Franklin Community Center during the town's annual "Catfish Days" summer festival over the July 21-23 weekend. While this may have been the smallest number of participants thus far for a Summer Grand Prix Event, it was a fabulous success when one considers that Franklin is a town of 510 people that is located a 2-hour drive southwest of the Twin Cities.
James Kanne is the founder of the Catfish Days Chess Tournament and he once again served as the master organizer for this 2023 edition. James started the tournament about 3 decades ago when a local chess-playing pastor expressed some frustration that all the chess tournaments were always held on Saturday & Sunday. Thus, James originally designed the Tournament to be held on Friday & Saturday to accommodate the chess-playing pastor's schedule, and at some point expanded the tournament to its current 3-day format by adding Sunday games. The tournament setting is fun and unique with a parade, live band, car show, softball tournament and food trucks happening up and down main street just short walks from the chess tournament site.
The chess was very competitive with 8 players finishing with 5.0 - 5.5 points. Tying for 1st Place with 5.5/7.0 points were NM Andrew Titus, NM Okey Iwu, and Canadian Expert Theo Wolchock. With this victory Titus increased his lead in the Summer Grand Prix competition over Jackson Wahl. Titus returns to an out-of-state college in mid-August and will have to miss the final Northern Open event which takes place in mid-September in Roseville. Titus will have to hope his point total holds up for 1st prize in the Summer Grand Prix Series. Iwu had an excellent tournament and had draws against the other two Co-Champions on Sunday. Wolchock made the trip down from Canada and showed excellent chess form all weekend long...gaining 30 USCF rating points in the process. Other strong performances were turned in by Michael Perry (5.0/7.0 and gained 25 rating points), Jack Bellinger (4.5/7.0 and gained 18 rating points), Harrison Stage (4.0/7.0 and gained 30 rating points), Timothy Broderick (4.0/7.0 and gained an astonishing 286 rating points), Joe Gangi (3.5/7.0 +184 rating points), and Blake Sepeda (3.0/7.0 +194 rating points).
Many thanks to Dane Zagar & Jack Bellinger for their expert direction of the event all weekend long. This represented the 28th edition of the Catfish Days Chess Tournament and James Kanne and his team of family & friend helpers are to be commended for the accommodating and friendly chess atmosphere they create for this special event.