Nakamura Takes Miami Open
By Marcel Martinez/Zeljka Malobabic   
October 3, 2007
 In the Miami Chess Open (September 26-30), was held at the Sheraton Mart Plaza Hotel and turned out to be a huge success. Players from 14 countries competed. Both current U.S. Champions participate, Alexander Shabalov and Irina Krush, for a total of 80 players in the Open Section. Thanks to Zeljka Malobabic for creating the following video, which will give you a sense of what is was like to be there.

7 GM's and 1 IM tied for first place with 6.5 out of 9. These players were: GM Nakamura (USA) GM Sadvakasov (KZH) GM Shabalov (USA) GM Izoria (GEO) GM Mikhalevski (ISR) GM Akobian (USA) GM Panchanathan(IND). The only IM tying for first was Justin Sarkar (USA) who already has two GM norms under his belt. Here is Justin's crucial final round win against Samford Scholar, IM Josh Friedel. 


The two players with the best tiebreaks were Nakamura and Sadvakasov.

 They played one Armageddon blitz game for a $200 bonus and to decide  who would be the champion of the first Miami Open. Nakamura played White and had six minutes while Sadvakasov had draw odds, but played with Black and had four minutes.  They played a French Defense in which Nakamura played solidly allowing Sadvakasov to equalize in the black side of a French Defense, the same opening they played in their game in the "real" tournament, which ended in a draw. Hikaru used his better skills in blitz to end up checkmating Sadvakasov in this exciting game, which attracted a large crowd.

In the actual tournament, Nakamura drew against Mikhalevski in the last round, but had an exciting penutlimate battle against Reiner Gonzalez, who recently won his final GM norm in Spain. Reiner had a great attack that would crash through most players, but Nakamura managed to create enough complications to win:


 With six points was  IM (with 3 GM norms) Axel Bachmann from Paraguay, a recent recruit of UTB (University of Texas at Brownsville) where Mexican GM Gilberto Hernandez coaches. Gilberto played well in this event too, despite the fact he took a few byes and seemed to be more concentrated on his pupil than on his own game. Another player with 6 out of 9 was the local GM Julio Becerra whose last game of the event ended in a draw versus the other 6 point finisher, IM David Pruess of Berkeley, California. This was the last game of the whole tournament to finish ending in a rook and pawn drawn endgame in which David gave his all but could not surpass the resistance of "slippery" Becerra.


As for female players, besides US Woman Champion Irina Krush, we had the pleasure of having WIM Carolina Blanco from Venezuela and WFM Liulia Cardona from Cuba. Carolina teaches chess in the state of Georgia and Liulia resides in Miami and is a member of the Miami Dade College Chess Team.

Young players

 FM Ray Robson, who we all know is  a very dangerous player, ended up with 4.5 out of 9 in this extremely tough field. He had an exciting Sicilian game with Alexander Shabalov, but the U.S. Champion prevailed in the end:


Also notable was the result of Robert Perez, rated only 1865. He was brave enough to play in this strong open section and finished with 4 points out of 9, beating and drawing a few FM's along the way. Robert currently is home-schooled and works on his chess at the Miami International Chess Academy(  with the tournament organizer,  IM Blas Lugo. Here is a draw Perez played against FM John Bick:


Under 2200- Benjamin Francis (2127) and Michael Corallo (1983) tied for first with 6 points out of 7.

Under 2000- The Ecuadorian player now residing in Miami William del Castillo won clear first with 6.5 out of 7.

Under 1800- Emmanuel Iglesias, another Cuban recruit to the Miami area, won with 6.5 out of 7.

Under 1600- Javier Abreu a student at Miami Senior High was the winner with 6.5 out of 7.

Under 1300- Marlon Suarez and James Beltran won with 6 out of 7.

Unrated section- was won by Gonzalo Velazquez with 6.5 out of 7.


Of course the players had a great time in Miami, as the following few pictures will show!

Two tournament winners, Varuzhan Akobian and Darmen Sadvakasov at a popular South Beach spot, Mango's.

  GM Darmen Sadvakasov just parked his Mercedes Mc Laren before we headed to the warm waters of South Beach

Darmen Sadvakasov with Varuzhan Akobian and this article's author, Marcel Martinez.

Two main sponsors who happen to be in love with the game of chess (Eric Hecht and Elsa Echevarria) plus the  efforts of International Master with one GM norm Blas Lugo turned out to be the perfect combination to make this dream for many local players a reality. For more information about the sponsors you can visit or see some more information regarding the Miami Open at

Blas Lugo and the sponsors are already planning for next year's event. The idea is host it near South Beach, the hottest spot in the planet! It is possible that the event will be held at the Miami Beach Convention Center or some other exciting place. The goal is for all players and visitants to have the amenities South Beach has to offer at the palm of their hands. We expect to see you sometime soon (2008) at the second edition of the Miami Chess Open. Thank you for coming and hope to see you back!!