GMs Battle as World Open Merge Approaches
By Jonathan Hilton   
July 3, 2010
As the World Open players head for the merge of schedules in Round 5 this evening, the grandmasters are dominating the pack in both the 5-day and the 7-day schedules. After four rounds in the 7-day schedule, IM Martin Neubauer of Austria and USCF Expert Daniel Leach III of Maryland stand alone as the only non-GMs with a plus score, with both surviving at 2.5/4.0. Meanwhile, on the leaderboard, the first seven slots are taken by the GMs with 3.0/4.0. Not surprisingly for a tournament dubbed the “World Open,” the leaders come from around the world: they include Francisco Vallejo Pons of Spain; Surya Shekhar Ganguly, P. Harikrishna, and Sandipan Chanda from India; Luke McShane of England; Loek Van Wely from the Netherlands; and Alexander Onischuk from Maryland, the lone U.S. player among the 7-day’s leaders. Onischuk is the only player among these to have lost a game, ceding a point in Round 2 to McShane.

Friends and travelling partners Paco Vallejo of Spain and Jan Gustafsson of Germany played in the 7-day together, only to be paired together as early as round two.

Luke McShane was captured on video minutes after arriving to the event. Here's it is, without a glitch that appeared when we first posted it:

Meanwhile, in the 5-day schedule, the players head into the morning round on Saturday having completed three rounds. Only three of the contestants have a perfect score: GM Viktor Laznicka of the Czech Republic and our own GMs Alexander Lenderman and Alexander Shabalov. But all eyes were on reigning U.S. Champion Gata Kamsky last night as he battled GM Magesh Panchanathan of India. Even as the game headed toward a dead draw, a crowd of twenty-five or thirty spectators crowded the board, pressing in around the players. No partition separates the top competitors in this tournament, making it a spectator’s dream. Even when the players are far from time pressure, spectators crowd Kamsky’s games.


Another exciting draw was held by GM Mesgen Amanov of Turkmenistan, who held with the Black pieces against a determined GM Jaan Ehlvest. By going down a bishop in the endgame, Amanov was able to reach an obscure fortress position.


I caught up with Alex Lenderman before his third-round win over GM Mark Paragua from the Philippines, which featured a nice pawn sacrifice with 16.d5! against Black’s uncastled king. This past year he made the switch from a college student to a full-time chess professional, a choice that he is glad to have made. He’s been able to dedicate his time and energy toward his chess growth. Commenting on a recent slide in his FIDE rating, he remarked that he was fine with a 47-point rating dip “so long as it’s two steps forward for each one back.”


The 4-day schedule will be joining the rest of the tournament tonight, with plenty more GMs from across the country and the world joining the event. Stay tuned to to see if a tournament leader emerges by the time of the merge in Round 5.