On the hottest weekend of the summer, with temperatures just shy of the 100 degree mark, Jim Skovron and Thad Suits generated some heat of their own, leading a small field of contenders to repeat as champions in this year's
The tournament, held at the Lewis and Clark Library in Helena on July 22 and 23rd, featured three title tournaments in one fast-paced weekend. State championships at speeds of game/30 (Action), game 15 (Quick), and game/5 (Blitz), were on the line. Skovron repeated as Blitz champ, defeating Suits in a playoff game for the second year in a row, and Suits won the Quick section while repeating as Action champion as well. Their competition was lighter than usual this year, although Michael Long of Livingston threatened their leads in two of the three events before having to withdraw.
Defending Quick Champion Doug Hansen of Great Falls was unable to attend. In all, only six players participated, including three from Helena. Among the latter were Mel Drake, who in the Quick section came within a whisker of a 735 point upset of Suits, and Rose Tremmel, playing in just her second tournament. Fifteen-year-old Nick Warner, the other Helena player, did well, valiantly keeping the pressure on the top players. He managed to gain rating points and hold at least a tie for 3rd place in all three events.
To Suits and Skovron the small turnout was a disappointment, not only because it tends to lessen the value of their titles, but because to them this is the most fun tournament of the year. "I wish more players would give the faster time controls a try," Skovron said."You learn a heck of a lot by
seeing so much chess in one weekend." Even Michael Long, who normally prefers the slower games, said,"Even though I didn't handle my time well, I left with the feeling - What a great way to spend a day!" But while players on the Internet and all across the country are gravitating towards more fast-paced games, Montana players seem content with a more leisurely pace. Another reason for the low turnout could have been its taking place in mid-summer during prime vacation times. It might get a better draw in the future if it can be moved to the Spring.