Michael Long, Jim Skovron, and Dan McCourt all have great tournaments on occasion, but at the 2000 Chinook Open, held October 14-15 at the University of Great Falls, they all had great tournaments at the same time. The result was a three-way split of the top prizes, as pre-tournament favorites Jan Johansson and Thad Suits both lost twice to the dark horse candidates.
For a while it looked like nobody was going to stop the Michael Long juggernaut. He had defeated Johansson and Suits in consecutive rounds and had a perfect score going into the final round. But Jim Skovron of Great Falls managed to create some sharp and imbalanced play in their game to come away with a last-round win. That left him tied for first with Long and with McCourt, who was simultaneously outplaying Suits on the next board over.
The top players might have known something was up when Dan McCourt started lamenting his miserable showing in a recent Spokane tournament as soon as he walked in the door. Yeah, Dan. We in Great Falls have heard that kind of hustling before. We always knew we were in trouble when John Barto would say with a sigh, "I just don’t know what to do about this position."
These were not the only dark horse surprises. Freddie Jay of Great Falls won three games to take clear first in his division and the $25 prize that went with it. Young Kirk Lundby, another Great Falls player, continues to improve, winning one game and holding Bill Furdell to a draw.
Two unrated players from Livingston, protégés of Michael Long, fought it out for their division. Stephen Rassmussen won the $25 unrated prize, half a point ahead of Mike Shuyler.
The prize money was ample, even after dividing the top place prizes place three ways. Long and Skovron both took home $70 each, while McCourt was the big winner, earning that same share of first plus $25 for biggest upset. The 427-point difference of his third round defeat of Johansson also gives him a commanding lead in this year’s upset derby, leap-frogging over Bill Furdell’s 304-point win in the Barto.
For some players, food was the highlight of the tournament. Free pizza was provided for lunch on Saturday, and then Sunday morning Dennis Petrak’s wife, Mary Ann Cosgrove, again supplied a tasty treat for all in the form of a plum crisp. Better watch out, Mary Ann. Now that you’ve done it two years running, we consider your cooking for us to be a time-honored tradition!