The MexInsurance FIDE Open took place December 16-18, 2022, at the Barber Park Event Center in Boise, Idaho-ho-ho.  Our tournament featured many firsts for Idaho.  The event attracted four FIDE-titled players, including two grandmasters (MA, PA), an international master (MI) and a FIDE master (CA by way of the Russian Chess Federation). 

The tournament was also internationally rated in both the Elite and Reserve.  Most tournaments offer only a FIDE-rated section in the Open or, on occasion, in a titled section.  The entry fee was yet another first.  While $100 is high for Idaho, most international tournaments have a $100 entry fee for players rated 2200+; those of us with a lower rating can pay as much as $300 to enter the international section.  In 2021, I spent just under $2,400 to play in the international sections of both the National and Western States Opens.  MexInsurance offered Idaho players a world-class tournament for pennies on the dollar . . . literally.  No out-of-state travel, no hotels for the more than 100 U.S. Chess members within 60 miles of Boise, no airfare or hundreds of dollars in gas.  Just a $100 entry fee and 15-minute drive to Barber Park. 

The prize fund was another first, setting a record for Northwest Chess (ID, OR, and WA) by offering over $15,700 in cash prizes.  The Elite section was open to all players, with 11 unconditionally guaranteed prizes totaling $10,000.  The Reserve (U2200) section offered three prizes per section, down to and including the U600 section, based on 100 paid players.  If organizers don’t hit their expected turnout, they are permitted to reduce their cash payouts by 50%.  We did not hit the 100 paid players, yet still paid out 100% of the prize money in two classes, another first.  The sections were based on players’ ratings (U2200 and U1000.)  Each section had four to six players, and First through Third places were paid in full.

It also featured another Idaho first with 200 U.S. Chess Grand Prix points.  Grand Prix points are based on the Open prize fund.  The majority of tournaments in the United States are in the 5 GP point range.  By comparison, the Western States Open in both 2021 and 2022 only offered 150 GP points. 

All FIDE-titled players played for free, from grandmasters down to women candidate masters (~1800 rating), and they all took home 100% of their earnings.  In most international tournaments, only GMs play for free and even then some organizers pick the GMs’ pockets for the entry fee from their earnings. 

This titled competitor perk gave Idaho players two big advantages over other regional events.  First, we were able to bring in stronger players from all over the United States.  Over half the players were from out of state.  Second, Idaho players had an opportunity to earn a FIDE rating here at home without paying the overhead.  Several Idaho players completed their initial FIDE rating (five international opponents in an internationally rated event, beginning with their first draw or victory in a FIDE event) and some secured their first draw or victory in both the Elite and Reserve sections.  One Reserve player was rated U900 and took out an opponent ~1350 FIDE. 

There was one additional first by our corporate sponsor MexInsurance.com.  The tournament was advertised regionally, with four ads in Northwest Chess, and more than 200 ads in all 49 states, the District of Columbia and the Russian Republic of Alaska.  These ads appeared in Chess Life, Chess Life Kids and a number of websites, including the Idaho Chess Association, U.S. Chess, FIDE (172 countries), Linked In (over 10,000 links),  MexInsurance.com, BoiseChess.org, Northwest Chess, and the Chandra Alexis Chess Club. We would like to thank all the Idaho players who attended both the tournament and the GM Bryan G. Smith simul on December 19, the Idaho Chess Association, Northwest Chess, Grandmasters Fidel Corrales and Bryan G. Smith, International Master Joshua Posthuma, and FIDE Master Alexandre Kretchetov.  A special thank you to my good friend FIDE Arbiter(D) and Associate National Tournament Director Lawrence Cohen of Chicago for his assistance!

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