Fireworks & Fresh Faces: World Open Kicks Off
By Jamaal Abdul-Alim   
July 2, 2015
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Arlington, Va. — Nearly 900 players began their initial rounds in the World Open here for the final year of the premier tournament’s three-year run in the city.

The tournament — which features schedules that range from the six-day to the three-day, the latter of which begins Friday — is fielding more than two dozen GMs. The top-level players include previous World Open champions Gata Kamsky and Varuzhan Akobian.

Beyond the familiar faces are some new and fresh faces from different places.

They include 7-year-old Prince Guipi Bopala, of Montreal, Quebec, who will celebrate his 8th birthday on Thursday by continuing to compete in the World Open.

Young Prince got bumped up from the U1400 to the U1600 section because tournament officials deemed his 1390 rating from Quebec to be “deflated.”

Nevertheless, young Prince put up a good fight in Round 1, playing his opponent in a grueling game that lasted four hours.

His father, Eric Guipi Bopala, a manager at an airplane parts company, said he brought his son — who has been playing chess since he was a pre-schooler — to the World Open to get exposure.

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“Experience and also to show him how far chess can go,” the father said. “I want to give him a chance to have experience to play with other players.”

Sixteen-year-old National Master Joshua Colas drew a bevy of supporters and onlookers by playing GM Luke McShane to what one observer described as an “exciting” endgame in which McShane had less than 20 seconds on his clock.

McShane told CLO that he thought Colas could have drawn the game.


Colas said he was surprised to get the opportunity to play on Board 1 and pleased with the fact that he played a GM to an endgame that could have been drawn.

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“I could have had a draw if I had played precise moves, but it was very tricky to see,” Colas said. “He showed it to me.”

Even though he lost the game, Colas said he learned a lot, “That I should calculate to the end instead of making a move and not being sure about it.”

Colas added that McShane — who entered the tournament as the highest-rated player at 2685 — is the highest rated player he ever played.

He said the result “shows that I’m capable to go to an endgame with anyone as long as I take my time and not rush and always find the best move in a position.”

Bill Goichberg, director of the Continental Chess Association, the organizer of the tournament, said he hoped more entrants Thursday and Friday would bring the total number of players past last year’s level of 1100, or the 2013 level of 1200.

One TD remarked how peaceful everything was at the onset of the tournament. But a couple of hours later, the normal grumblings ensued, with TDs settling disputes over simple things as simple as players needing to hit their clocks, and players complaining to parents about talking during the games.

A strict new anti-cheating policy that bans the use of cell phones in the tournament venue had even spectators seeking to enforce the rule against this CLO writer. We had to explain the only reason we had our cell phone out in the tournament hall is because we were on assignment and had to capture a few scenes from the event.

Follow along at http://chessevents.com/worldopen/ and look for another update by  2013 Chess Journalist of the Year Jamaal Abdul-Alim.