King of the board: RR resident wins ABQ chess tournament

Corbin Gustafson demonstrates his winning moves in front of the seniors at Meadowlark Senior Center on June 15 after his victory at the Albuquerque Open Chess tournament on June 10.

Rio Rancho High School Class of 2015 alumnus Corbin Gustafson pocketed $200 and a first-place finish at the Albuquerque Open Chess tournament June 10.

The tournament featured 61 competitors in five sections from across the nation. Gustafson finished first in the top section with a total of 4.5 out of five points — one full point above last year’s winner, Edward Wyckoff, also a New Mexico resident.

Gustafson’s victory was celebrated June 15 by those he often mentors at Meadowlark Senior Center. Gustafson gave demonstrations and lively re-creations of the close games he played for the title.

Brad Earlewine, member of the MSC chess club, is extremely proud of the Rio Rancho talent, despite coaching the game in Albuquerque for 40 years.

“If Santa Fe is the City Different, and Albuquerque is proudly the City Indifferent, then Rio Rancho is truly the City of Vision,” Earlewine said. “(Gustafson) is the top player in New Mexico and surely has a bright future.”

According to Earlewine, the “odds were stacked 10 to one” against Gustafson in the tournament, and he was sure to lose to Andrew Richard Flores of New Mexico, who recently finished eighth in the 2018 U.S. Amateur West Championship in his section.

Gustafson said he began playing chess six years ago.

“My dad showed me the game, and I saw that my school had a team, so I joined,” he said, mid-move during a simultaneous, three-board game.

According to Gustafson, chess is a game that never quits teaching.

“(Chess) really teaches me discipline, and that hard work will pay off — eventually,” he said.

He said he recently received a bachelor’s degree in statistics at the University of New Mexico, and hopes to earn his master’s degree and eventually a doctorate in statistics.