ACE Chess (Arizona) State Championship Recap!

Posted: March 7th, 2012 by Daniel Rensch

The 1st Annual ACE Chess Arizona State Championship took place this past weekend from March 2nd-4th at the Chess Emporium in Tempe Arizona. This exciting event was brought forth through the vision of its main sponsor, Steven Kamp. The tournament was designed to bring the state’s best players together to compete in the strongest Round Robin event — with a “State Title” on the line anyway — in Arizona chess history.


Chess Emporium Owner Scott Freneaux and Steven Kamp
reunited for the betterment of chess in Arizona…


The event was also made possible by sponsors LLC,, Rensch Law, Meltmedia, and Karry’s Design — and American Chess Events LLC would like to extend its deepest appreciations. The tournament’s “top prize”, in addition to the $1000 purse, was the Norm Saba Trophy, named after long-time Arizona Chess Supportor, Dr. Norm Saba.


Dr. Norm Saba and Steven Kamp

The field was made up of both home grown Arizona chess players, as well as several “Arizona transplanted” — yet very strong — international chess professionals. Below you can see the entire field of players pictured with Dr. Saba:


From left to right: IM Joel Banawa, FM Pedram Atoufi, Dr. Norm Saba, IM Mark Ginsburg, IM Daniel Rensch, IM Mackenzie Molner, and IM Shahin Mohandesi…


On top of the field by rating, and finishing right where he belonged, was new Arizona resident International Master Shahin Mohandesi (originally from Iran). After suffering a tough last round loss to the second seeded IM Mackenzie Molner, he was caught by IM Joel Banawa — who won a nice game agaisnt FIDE Master Pedram Atoufi. The two (Mohandesi and Banawa) shared top honors of the event with three and a half points out of five each, but it was Mohandesi who won the Norm Saba Trophy out right in a late night Armageddon Blitz Playoff game. Mohandesi is pictured below with Dr. Saba:



On a personal note, your author truly enjoyed competing against so many strong players in his home town. Though it would have been nice to emerge victorious, I believe this event represents a good sign for Arizona’s chess future to see so many of the strongest players competing on the board, and not off the board! You can find the complete games list — all five rounds included — here, and you can check out my two mid-tourney blogs here.



The final standings (in pairing number order) were:

# Name/Rtng/ID Rd 1 Rd 2 Rd 3 Rd 4 Rd 5
2520 12662506  0  .5  1.0  2.0  3.0
2 JOEL BANAWA B 1 W 6 B 4 W 3 W 5
2444 12922625  1.0  1.0  1.5  2.5  3.5
3 DANIEL M RENSCH W 6 W 5 B 1 B 2 W 4
2478 12659833  .5  1.5  2.0  2.0  3.0
4 MARK GINSBURG B 5 W 1 W 2 B 6 B 3
2406 10172918  1.0  1.5  2.0  2.0  2.0
5 PEDRAM ATOUFI W 4 B 3 B 6 W 1 B 2
2299 12882025  0  0  0  0  0
2616 14812351  .5  1.5  2.5  3.5  3.5

Finally, some more pictures with descriptions:


My two longest/biggest supporters:
My father, Steve Rensch, to the left and
my grandpa, Steven Kamp to the right…



The “Mac Attack”, wearing an excellent looking shirt I might add,
considers his next move…



International Master and Co-Champion, Joel Banawa…



FIDE Master Pedram Atoufi mentally prepares himself…


Former Arizona State Champion, International master Mark Ginsburg…