In one of the most hotly contested and closest races in history, Chris Compton has emerged as the winner of the 2013 Barry Crane Top 500 contest. Final, official masterpoint totals for Compton and Mark Itabashi won’t be known until Feb. 6, but Compton’s slim margin is expected to hold up. The current totals – 2779.38 for Compton and 2764.87 for Itabashi – could be affected by late-reporting ACBL clubs. As the race heated up after the 2013 Fall NABC in Phoenix, both players sought masterpoints in club games. Current totals put Compton ahead by 14.51 masterpoints.

The two are veterans of the tournament circuit. Compton was the 2011 Top 500 winner, ending a five-year streak of wins by Jeff Meckstroth, who has won the contest 10 times. Itabashi is a perennial top-10 finisher in the masterpoint race. He went for the top prize this year after raking in piles of masterpoints at the 2013 Summer NABC in Atlanta (326.70) and the Fall NABC in Phoenix (215.38). The competitors poured it on after the Fall NABC and were still fighting for masterpoints at opposite ends of the country on New Year’s Eve.

In Reno NV, Itabashi won the final event of his 2013 campaign – an A/X Swiss teams – for a modest payoff of 12.25 MPs. Compton played in Myrtle Beach SC in a knockout that started on Dec. 31 and ended on New Year’s Day. According to ACBL regulations, a two-day event is considered to have been played on the day it started, so the 38.46-point payoff for the KO win by Compton’s team counted in the 2013 race.

If current totals are unchanged as of Feb. 6, Compton can reflect on the fact that even if his team had lost in the KO final in Myrtle Beach, he would still have won the Top 500 race, but by only .16 masterpoints.