The historic World Open was held this past weekend at Crystal City Hyatt in Arlington, Virginia for the third consecutive year before returning to Philadelphia. This year made even more apparent that the youth movement has hit the U.S. as the hotel was literally overrun by an ever-increasing number of scholastic players.
These young talents are testing their skills by playing the strongest competition and scoring points! It was not too long ago that Hikaru Nakamura, Fabiano Caruana and Ray Robson were blazing their respective trails at the same tournament. Junior player John Michael Burke (2258) was the breakout star this tournament with 6.5/9 (beating two IMs and a GM) and a $4000.00 under-2300 honors. There were a number of upsets, but the veterans are still in control… for now.
The tournament had an interesting mixture of players from around the world including England’s Luke McShane, Alexander Ipatov (Turkey), Ehsan Ghaem Maghami (Iran), Axel Bachmann (Paraguay), Jianchao Zhou (China) with strong contingents from Israel, India, Nigeria and Canada. In the end, Aleksandr Lenderman won the tiebreaker over Rauf Mamedov and won the extra $300.00 prize in addition to $5162.50 that each of the eight players received for 7/9.
Aleksandr Lenderman being congratulated by Rauf Mamedov
after winning the tiebreak.
There were also a healthy number of women competing including U.S. champion Irina Krush, former Asian champion Atousa Pourkashiyan of Iran who told The Chess Drum that she has been playing in a number major tournaments in the U.S. She was at last year’s Millionaire Chess Open. There were also a large contingent of girls throughout each section including FM Akshita Gorti who scored a respectable 5/9.
FM Akshita Gorti (right)
IM Odion Aikhoje (Nigeria) vs. GM Alonso Zapata (Colombia)
Some main observations can be made about the World Open. IM Odion Aikhoje made the observation that the energy of American chess is was inspiring and the tournament appears to be like a festival with an emphasis on enjoyment. In fact in three separate interviews conducted by The Chess Drum, there were interesting contrasts drawn between American and European chess. As of now, chess seems to be experiencing a resurgence.
Virginia was nice…
…and memories were captured, but…
…the World Open returns to Philly next year!
Despite the resurgence, there was something missing in this year’s World Open. The amount of registrants eclipsed 1000 with a large percentage of scholastic players. This is a double-sided issue… the youth movement is flourishing, but the adult segment is shrinking. So what gives? Is the World Open going to be rejuvenated after a return to Philly? Will there be better conditions to harness the magic of the World Open? Time will tell.
Official Site: http://www.worldopen.com