Najer Wins Title; 4 Split Grand Prize
By Jennifer Shahade   
July 7, 2008
Although no American players made it into the 4-way tie for first, young talents Sam Shankland and Daniel Ludwig earned IM norms. Photo Jen Shahade
The World Open (July 1-6, Philadelphia) finished just before midnight with an Armageddon match to break the four-way tie for first. Although Evgeny Najer, Negi Parmijaran, Lubomir Ftacnik and Alexander Moiseenko all earned 7 points and over $12,000, Najer and Negi had the highest tiebreaks and advanced to the playoff. Almost 100 spectators, including a large Indian contingent, watched Negi and Najer battle for the official title and an extra 400$. Najer had the best tiebreaks, so he chose seven minutes and the White pieces against Negi, who had Black, five minutes and draw odds. Afterward, Negi  commented that even with 6 to 5, he would prefer playing White. The game was an exciting Sicilian in which Najer crushed his young opponent:


Negi was in good spirits after the loss. The young GM is so friendly, well-dressed and mature that it's hard to imagine he's only 15, let alone a World Championship candidate. Negi told CLO that he liked playing in the World Open, cause it was fun to play two six-hour games in a row. The hectic schedule absolved him of having to prepare and is also better suited to young players. Negi was part of a large Indian delegation that traveled to America just for the Philadelphia International and World Open. American players were happy to meet the Indian team as it can sometimes be hard to earn norms in American Opens, due to the foreign player requirement. Negi's only black mark in Philadelphia were his two losses to Najer, in the third round of the World Open and in the playoff. His favorite game from Philly was his win in the Philadelphia International against Gopal:


GM Negi Parmijaran with his father in the background. Photo Jen Shahade

Co-winner GM Lubomir Ftacnik became heroic to some and notorious to others early in the tournament when he grabbed the mike and yelled "Shut-up" repeatedly when announcements began, even though some of the games had been going on for 20 minutes. His chess style is just as uncompromising:


 Negi and Ftacnik agreed to a quick final round draw on board one, allowing the eventual World Open champ, Evgeny Najer to catch up with them.

GM Alexander Moiseenko broke into the winners circle with a final round win over GM Alexander Ivanov, who was in terrible time pressure during this game:


Independence Day Norms

TD Michael Atkins reported five norms as of midnight yesterday in the Open section: American juniors Daniel Ludwig and Sam Shankland, made IM norms along with Eric Hansen and Jonathan Tayar of Canada. Alisa Melekhina got her third WIM norm, so she should expect her title at the next FIDE Congress. It was also confirmed that WGM Eesha Karavade earned an IM norm in the Philadelphia International.

Shankland began his path to a norm with a win over Shabalov. Even a last round loss to IM Bryan Smith couldn't prevent the inevitable first norm. After the tournament, Sam was exhausted and headed back to his hotel room before the midnight blitz tournament. GM Jaan Ehlvest won the blitz, with FM Jake Kleiman in clear second. Ludwig found his stride in the second half, defeating GM Alejandro Ramirez in the most crucial game for his norm chances:


U2400 action

The Under 2400 section is really fun to watch because there are so many talented young players. In fact, the top boards often looked like a university competition. The five-way tie for first included FM and UTD student Igor Schneider, incoming UConn freshman IM Robert Hungaski, FM Elliot Liu, Igor Sorkin and Louie Jiang.  I asked Schneider and Hungaski why they didn't try harder to win in their final game on board one, for the chance to take home around 16K instead of just 6K. Surely, according to basic math and expected value it would be better to take the risk. Igor and Robert both agreed that with my reasoning but said it would be too demoralizing and that the opportunity to win that kind of money doesn't repeat itself often enough to justify thinking about it theoretically. So they had a 18-move draw.
Elliott Liu and Robert Hungaski, friends and among the five co-champs in the Under 2400. Photo Jen Shahade

Elliott Liu had a bittersweet final round pairing in the Under 2400. He was forced to face off against his friend and World Open room-mate Mackenzie Molner. Elliott won the game, earning $6400 and breaking the symmetry of he and Mackenzie's chess summers. In addition to having the same score in the final round of the World Open, they both earned IM norms (narrowly missing GM norms) in the New York International.

Final Winners

Check out who won the big bucks below. Click here for complete standings.

1-4. GMs Evgeny Najer, Parmijaran Negi, Lubomir Ftacnik and Alexander Moiseenko - 7/9
5-6. GMs Viktor Mikhalevski and Ilya Smirin- 6.5/9
Under 2400-
1-5 FM Igor Schneider, IM Robert Hungaski, Igor Sorkin, Louie Jiang and FM Elliott Liu- 7/9
6-10- FM Kazim Gulamali, IM Mikhail Zlotnikov, Erik F.Santarius and FM Todd Andrews- 6.5/9
Under 2200-
 Gevorg Vardanyan and Cadet Champion Conrad Holt- 7.5/9
Under 2000-
 Khine T. Kyaw, James Wu and Makaio W. Krienke- 7.5/9
Under 1800-
 Michael A. Granata- 8.5
Under 1600-
Molson Hart- 8
Under 1400-
Khalee Ward and John G. Sefton-7.5
Under 1200

Vladimir Kilmenko-

Photo Gallery by Ola Osanyinjobi
GM John Fedorowicz

WGM Nisha Mohota was part of a large Indian contingent who came to Philadelphia

GM Ilya Smirin of Israel missed out on a tie for first by half a point

Evgeny Najer, 2008 World Open Champion