Philly has big buildings too. Photo Jacob Okada
In the city of love at the anniversary of independence, the chess battles have been bloody in the fight for hundreds of thousands of dollars in prize money. After eight rounds of play, open standings are as follows:
1-5 Gata Kamsky, Vadim Milov and Joel Benjamin, Leonid Yudasin and Georgi Kachieshvili (6.5/8)
Milov was sitting pretty with 6/6 until Gata (playing Black) defeated him in a long endgame. Gata had two knights for a bishop and two pawns. It took a surprising amount of pluck and wits to win what at first glance seemed completely winning.
Kamsky (right) defeated Milov(left) in round six, in 117 moves.
Benjamin played a fighting game against Stripunsky in the seventh round sacrificing, refusing to draw by perpetual check, and then taking advantage of an oversight on Alex's part. His approach exemplified his new attitude toward draws. "I don't take draws anymore," Benjamin said, "and I play better and enjoy chess more now, cause I don't waste energy thinking about whether or not to offer or accept a draw."
Joel's attack with Nf6 and Bh7 was winning, but with so many tempting options around move 30, he missed the best continuation. 30. Nb3 is crushing because if Nxb3 31. Rd3 is the end of the world. Joel's choice of Nf3-g5 followed by the exchange sac Rxd5 also looked strong, but Stripunsky found the excellent resource 36...Qc2! followed by 37...Qg6, protecting his King and balancing the game. After Qa3, 46...Rf4? was a mistake. Joel played 47.Nh4!, allowing the queen to access g3. If Qg5 48.Bxf4 Qxf4 49.Qg3+ and white's on top in the ending. (47.Bxf4?? Qxf4 wins the rook on c1 but 47.Rxc6 is also strong.)
After regaining his exchange, Joel went on to win a second pawn, and the game. It was made easier for him when Stripunsky blundered a rook with 81.... Kc6??
The two young American talents and Olympic team-mates Hikaru Nakamura and Varuzhan Akobian had a surprisingly tame contest on board 3, making peace in 45 moves in a Grunfeld (Hikaru on the black side).
A notable absence in the tournament is U.S. Champion Alexander Onischuk, who even came to the tournament on Friday with his wife, Olga. At the last moment, he decided not to play, because he didn't want to carry a chess board and pieces to the game each round. He also wanted to relax and explore the great city of Philadelphia. In the interests of fostering chess professionalism, he suggests providing boards and clocks for the top ten boards in major Opens.(In Europe boards and clocks are usually provided for all players.) Or, if that doesn't work out, any chess caddies avaliable?
To watch the final two rounds and the playoff live, go to the Internet Chess Club
GMs Varuzhan Akobian, Georgi Kachieshvili and Jaan Ehlvest
World Open tournament hall