GM Varuzhan Akobian won the World Open in a tiebreak blitz match against Alex Stripunsky. Photo Jennifer Shahade
The World Open (June 28-July 4 King of Prussia,PA) wrapped up on a rainy Independence Day in a nine-way tie for first which included GMs Hikaru Nakamura, Chanda Sandipan, Leonid Yudasin, Evgeny Najer, Alex Shabalov, Alex Stripunsky, Victor Mikhalevski, Varuzhan Akobian and Julio Becerra. The final round was dull as the top four boards all ended in quick draws. Even Hikaru Nakamura, who usually has a surplus of fighting spirit took a relatively quick draw (19 moves) against Mikhalevski. The other three boards were all even faster!
U.S. Champion Alexander Shabalov was the only one in the winner's circle with a decisive last round result. He beat Eugene Perelshteyn:
Varuzhan Akobian won the title against Alexander Stripunsky in a Armegodden playoff. Playoff contestants are determined by tiebreaks; Crowd favorite Hikaru Nakamura was left out because the 3-day schedule he played in was not as strong as the 5-day, which Akobian and Stripunsky played in.
GM Julio Becerra. Photo J.Shahade
Julio Becerra was happy with his placing in the top of the crosstable, as he defeated GM Jaan Ehlvest in the penultimate round. His favorite game, however, was against IM and 2007 Samford Scholar Josh Friedel.
FM Teddy Coleman. Photo Elizabeth Vicary
Teddy Coleman had a fantastic result despite a last round loss to Milos Pavlovic. He secured his first IM norm and gained 60 rating points! Vishnuvardh Arjun won an IM norm in the U2400 section with 6.5/9.
World Open Standings
1-9-Varuzhan Akobian, Hikaru Nakamura, Chanda Sandipan, Leonid Yudasin, Evgeny Najer, Alex Shabalov, Alex Stripunsky, Victor Mikhalevski, and Julio Becerra- 6.5/9
10-14- Borki Predojevic, Jiri Stocek, Abhijit Kunte and Alexander Ivanov-6/9
15-23- Lars B. Hansen, Daniel Fridman, Yury Shulman, Milos Pavlovic, David Howell, Eugene Perelshteyn, Melikset Khachiyan and Emory Tate. 5.5/9
1-5- Anton P. Del Mundo, Mikhail Zlotnikov, Tegshsuern Enkhbat, William Morrison, Ilya Figler.
1- Chris Mabe- 8/9
2-4- Christopher Toolin, Christopher Williams, Zoltan Revesz- 7.5/9
1. Sevan Toroussian- 8.5/9
2-6- Ian Harris, Timothy Woodard, Steven C.Zierk, Hatian Zheng, Elisha Garg-7.5/9
1- Steve Cramton -8.5/9
2- Daniel Park- 8/9
3-5 Brandon Moore, Rafael Calderon, Matt H. Clark- 7.5/9
1. Nicholas Oblak- 8/9
Paul Giangregorio, Steven Himel- 7.5/9
Dru Knox and Crystal Liu -8.5/9
Ian G. Morton- 8/9
Kenneth A. Rivkin and Robert Witkowski-7.5/9
Other World Open sections were dramatic, with their huge five figure first place prizes. After last year's much publicized cheating scandals, Tournament directors were particularly vigilant about preventing funny business before it began, even patrolling the tournament room with a device that detects radio frequency waves. In Charles Galofre's case, a participant in the U2400 section, the device picked up beeping coming from him. They searched Charles the next day and found nothing-it's possible that cell phones set off the device so that anyone sitting near him and sending a text could have set it off. He played rounds 4-8 on a separate table under constant TD supervision. "At the end, they got tired of thinking I was trying to cheat." Charles finished the tournament with 6.5/9 and a $1000 prize- a great result in a tough section. However, Charles felt he could have done even better and was rattled by the accusations.
Charles Galofre. Photo Elizabeth Vicary
This case just shows how tricky it is for organizers to take a hard-line against cheating. Even the hint of an accusation is disturbing and hurtful to innocent chess players, but on the other hand, everyone wants to play knowing that the organizers are doing everything they can to maintain a clean atmosphere.
Despite more rigorous prevention, the usual bevy of cheating accusations both marred and sparked gossip in this year's World Open. Because of insufficient evidence, CLO will not provide details yet, but incidents included double identity (two players who look alike and dress alike playing as one player), false identity (a player who entered the tournament under a false name) and thrown games. The World Open and its large prizes galvanizes the chess community to try new things, but due to much stronger anti-cheating measures, we are on the right track to constraining future years' bag of tricks to openings novelties.
Watch out for more on the World Open! CLO will feature a blog from Todd Andrews on playing for the big money in the U2400 section. Also look for Jerry Hanken's in-depth article in the October issue of Chess Life Magazine.