This year’s Montana Open was full of unexpected happenings!
The first surprise came when the site for the Open was changed from Helena to Bozeman. The Board of Directors felt that the move was warranted due to the conflict with the Governor’s Cup Marathon (which was taking place that same weekend) and the inadequate playing facility at the Public Library. In the past, the campus at Montana State University in Bozeman has served as an excellent meeting place for the members of the MCA in terms of a central location and comfortable playing facilities, and this year MSU came through again. The site proved to be excellent! Next year the Montana Open is scheduled to take place in Missoula, and many hope that the traditional location – the campus at the University of Montana – will be the host site.
The second surprise of the weekend came with the emergence of Michael Runge from Billings as the Montana Open winner. Michael, rated at 1808 and absent from the MCA scene for a few years, worked his way past several strong players, including Jan Johansson (rated at 2016), to finish with a perfect 5.0 score. State Co-Champs Alex Dawson and Jan Johansson finished tied for second place with 4.0 scores, and David Duke of Billings finished 3rd with 3.5 points.
Following the theme, there was the surprise performance from Mike Stubblefield of Missoula, rated 1512, who drew veterans Jim Skovron (1857) and Michael Long (1801) and finished with a nice score of 3.0. Excellent showing, Mike! Then, to cap off this final event of the regular tournament season, Devin Gray of Bozeman, rated 1239, scored a final round upset win over Jim Loy of Bozeman, who was rated 1765. This was a surprise not only because of the rating difference, but also because the opening was a King's Gambit, a favorite opening of Loy. The point spread of 526 points was enough for Devin to win the Biggest Upset award for the year. Congrats to Devin!
Another surprise came at 2:00 on Sunday. The Annual Business Meeting, which normally runs about an hour, this year went a record three hours! The first hour was consumed by the debate over the controversial use of questionable proxies. Once a compromise was reached, the meeting proceeded. New officers were elected and then issues were debated and discussed. Several committees were formed, and many of the members present volunteered to participate on those committees.
Aldin Barnes of Helena, the Junior Champion of Montana, filled in as secretary for the Business Meeting and did a fine job keeping the minutes. Because of the problems generated by a few members in the early part of the year, which led to an eventual unnecessary suit against the MCA, Eastern Vice-President Dennis Petrak gave an impassioned speech on the importance of leadership and unity in the MCA. Afterwards, to his surprise, he was awarded a plaque honoring him for defending the MCA in the court case and for his dedicated service in our Association during the past 20 years. Thanks, Dennis – you’re a real "legal eagle!"
The officers elected are as follows:
President -- Jan Johansson
Secretary-Treasurer -- Paul Motta
Executive Vice-Pres. -- Sherwood Moore
Western Vice-Pres. -- Dan McCourt
Eastern Vice-Pres. -- Mel Drake
Congratulations to the new officers!
This Montana Open was directed by Steve Scarff of Bozeman, who scrambled to secure a room at the campus on very short notice. Many thanks, Steve!
Lastly, a surprise arrived on Sunday that was not really anticipated at all. Only days before in Bozeman it was a blistering 90 degrees, clear and hot. On Sunday afternoon -- it snowed. Only in Montana!