2013 Florida State Championship

Daytona Beach Hilton Resort next to the famous clock tower and the carnival which featured the gravity-defying slingshot ride (upper left) where you are hoisted 300 feet in the air at 90 miles per hour. Drawback… $25.00 for this 90-second thrill. Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

Labor Day weekend is a busy time for chess is the U.S. Many of the state federations hold their state championships and the Florida Chess Association held theirs in Daytona Beach.

Poker star Ylon Schwartz made a surprise appearance at the Florida State Championship. Photo by lasvegasvegas.com.

The Southern Open held in July was the strongest Florida tournament in recent memory with four GMs, one IM and a slew of Masters and Experts. The Miami International franchise has long been abandoned and it was hoped that the Florida State Championship would attract a strong showing. Perhaps the prize fund was a bit modest, but what was surprising was to see poker star Ylon Schwartz among the 161 entrants.

Schwartz, a FIDE Master and National Master Miro Reverby were traveling together and had just competed in a poker tournament at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel in Hollywood, Florida. Both players played the first two rounds won money in the blitz tournaments, promptly withdrew and headed to another poker tournament.

It turns out that the only prominent chess player entering was Orlando resident and defending champion, Danish Grandmaster Lars Bo Hansen. Southern Open participants such as GMs Yuniesky Quesada and Aryam Abreu were in North Carolina and Alonso Zapata was in Georgia. Former state champion Julio Becerra was also absent. However, players like FM Eric Rodriguez (2348) and several masters made the trip. In fact, Rodriguez played a thrilling last-round game against NM Corey Acor (2277) and could have won the title, but was held.

GM Lars Bo Hansen started off with a win over The Chess Drum’s Daaim Shabazz. Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

The year’s event was tougher than imagined for Hansen. After wins against Daaim Shabazz (2087) and Acor, he was held by Rodriguez and took a bye in the 4th round. This allowed both Rodriguez and scholastic star John Ludwig (2235) to catch him at 3/4. Hansen then dispatched of Ludwig while Rodriguez kept pace with a win over Ernesto Alvarez (2295).

After being under pressure the whole game and with his king in mortal danger, Ludwig beat back Alvarez’s attack with …Bf5! There were various dangerous lines. In the post-mortem, Alvarez called Ludwig a “beast in tactics”. 🙂

The last round would be a thriller as Hansen faced Antonio Arencebia (2219) and won a long encounter in a Caro Kann. Alvarez and Ludwig battled in a absolute tactical slugfest where white sacrificed a rook and attempted a mating attack on the exposed black king.

In the position on the right, Ludwig seems to be facing mortal danger as white has many threats. Ludwig walked a tightrope including sidestepping the win of exchange when white would have had a winning queen sacrifice. Ultimately, white sacrificed a rook and with raking bishops and pieces aimed at the black king, black had to parry many threats. Ludwig’s …Bf5! saved the day.

Ludwig just threw …Bf5! on the board. Photo by Daaim Shabazz

FM Eric Rodriguez (right) pressed for the win against Corey Acor,
but came up short. Photo by Harvey Lerman.

The Florida State Championship had six sections (Open, U2000, U1800, U1600, U1400, U1200). The winners were:

The winners of the other sections were:
Under 2000: Eldon Bageant
Under 1800: William Barton
Under 1600: Matthew O’Brien (on tiebreaks) and Orson Curtus II
Under 1400: Chad Chavira
Under 1200: Charles Bell

Full Standings

The Chess Drum had a chance to speak to the winner of the event before the result was final (Rodriguez-Acor was still going). Hansen spoke on a range of topics such as his moving to Florida, USA, his chess idea, opinions of the world elite and the upcoming championship match.

Listen to GM Lars Bo Hansen!


  1. There was a very interesting game played in the under-2000 section. The names are unknown, but check out the following positions. In the first position, white has three pieces for a queen, but black had established a dangerous passed h-pawn.

    These two players had a weird ending… three pieces against a queen. White is completely winning, but black got a passed pawn and ended up winning a piece.

    However, the game got to this point and with a draw in hand by …Qd8+ and …Qd7, black tried to win the game and ended up allowing white to get out of the box. White started pushing the f-pawn and it was over.

  2. GM Lars Bo Hansen runs the Orlando Chess House along with his wife Evgenia Hansen and son Martin. They offer instruction to both 1800-2300 level players and scholastic players. You can find out more details at

    Orlando Chess House
    Bahama Bay Resort, Clubhouse, 2nd Floor
    400 Gran Bahama Boulevard
    Davenport, FL 322897

    Evgenia Hansen and son Martin in action.

  3. Pingback: Daily Chess News Links September 6, 2013 | blog.chesscafe.com
  4. Photos from 2013 Florida State Championship
    All photos by Daaim Shabazz unless otherwise specified.

    View of Oceanfront from Daytona Beach Hilton

    Marketing works, but…

    Amusement Park next door… fun, fun, fun!

    Delicacy in the south… funnel cake!

    Tournament Organizers: Steven Lampkin, Harvey Lerman, Larry Storch

    Expert Eric Larsen got a couple of miniature wins.

    GM Lars Bo Hansen and Daaim Shabazz square off in the first round in a Caro-Kann. Black won in 44 moves.

    Wiley Coyote’s favorite restaurant. 🙂

    Bird Watching!

    * * *

    GM Lars Bo Hansen vs. FM Eric Rodriguez (Round Three), 1/2

    Tony Cipollina vs. Eric Larsen (Round Three), 0-1

    Reggaeton artists wow the crowd.

    Early morning walk on the beach… B-)

    Not many things are better than sand under your feet!

  5. Photos from 2013 Florida State Championship
    All photos by Daaim Shabazz unless otherwise specified.

    Amy Tsai got the easiest win of her life… forfeit.

    Round Five is under way!

    Orlando’s Natahja Graddy (under-1400)

    Scholastic players… one taking a peek.

    A fan of Italia wearing the “10” jersey.

    Lars Bo Hansen vs. John Ludwig, 1-0

    FM Eric Rodriguez vs. NM Antonio Alvarez, 1-0

    Larry Storch vs. Fabio LaRota, 0-1

    Tianhui (Cindy) Jie

    Jon Haskel, Boca Raton Chess Club

    Tallahassee chess players out before final round at 2pm.
    (L-R) Daaim Shabazz, Steven Cullifer, Sivaji Hariharan, Eric Larsen

    Bughouse chess is…

    …a lot of fun!

    Final Round matchups (Top Boards)






    WFM Laura Perez (Columbia) vs. William Thomas (Jamaica), 1-0

    NM Antonio Arencibia vs. GM Lars Bo Hansen, 0-1

    Evgenia Hansen playing James Walker
    and Martin Hansen playing Eric Heerschap.

    What an ending! White is winning, but this game got wild in a hurry. White was in severe time pressure with seconds left.

    Now it’s a draw by repetition after …Qd8+.

    Black still tried to win… and lost!

    Crazy game! John Ludwig has just played …Bf5! against Ernesto Alvarez stifling attack. Ludwig got the full point and Alvarez simply tipped his cap to him in post-mortem.

    Blitz (5-minute) Results… Ylon Schwartz came, saw and conquered!

    Quick (10-minute) Results… Schwartz again!

    Grandmaster Lars Bo Hansen… 2013 Florida State Champion!
    Photo by Harvey Lerman.

    My last night out on the beach! Beautiful scenery, but the venue will move to south Florida next year.

    1. I appreciate it. Both Eric and I are sparring partners in Tallahassee. He’s a tough cookie and very tricky. I enjoyed our game and have annotated it. I have been playing the hedgehog for many years and I enjoy the flexibility, but the line you played can cause problems if played in the correct move order.

  6. I was waiting to hear a little bit about your own games Daaim, but you only spoke about other games. Any interesting games that you had that you would not mind sharing? It’s the analysis I am mostly interested in.

    1. I started playing chess seriously at 15. Played in first scholastic tournament at 16… first rating was 1311 and was an Expert 2-1/2 years later. Unfortunately, I’ve been an Expert most of my chess career. I was approaching Master and then went away to grad school. No time for chess. After the Ph.D., I start my career in a place with very little chess. Given my location and lack of chess activity, it’s quite difficult to stay sharp. I have played in only two or three tournaments this year. If I lived in New York or any place with more activity, it would be quite different. Becoming Master is doable even at this stage because I’m definitely strong enough. Everyone chastises me for not playing more because they like my creative play, but I have basically sacrificed my chess to do The Chess Drum.

  7. What it takes to become a master is definitely there. What you have stuck with is what was meant for you to stick you. WE ARE ALL BENEFITING FROM IT. Leave the what ifs and doubts to a higher…..

  8. Looking back, I am sure you made the right decision. Each one of us has a gift and it’s not necessarily what we think it ought to be.

  9. Great coverage as usual, Daaim. I also wish you could’ve pursued Master. But that’s coupled with the fact that I wish U.S. chess was more viable outside of places like NYC.

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