2008 World Open (Philadelphia, USA)

Photos from the 2008 event in downtown Philly.

Photos from the 2008 event in downtown Philly.
Photos by Daaim Shabazz.

The 36th World Open will kick off on June 30th and host nine rounds of chess through July 6th in Philadelphia. Having carved out a niche as America’s premier tournament, the $400,000 tournament draws some of the world’s top players. This year, the venue will return to the aesthetically-pleasing downtown location after one year in Valley Forge.

* * *

The 36th World Open. July 2-6, 3-6, 4-6 or June 30-July 6, GPP: 300 (enhanced), Pennsylvania, USA

36th Annual World Open. 9-round Swiss, 40/2, SD/1 (4-day option, rds 1-2 G/75, 3-day option, rds 1-5 G/45). Under 900, Under 600 and Unrated Sections play separate 3-day schedule only, G/45. At Sheraton Philadelphia City Center Hotel, 17th & Race Sts., Philadelphia, PA 19103. Special parking rate for all players $5/day. Downtown location, Franklin Institute and many other museums as well as stores & restaurants within a few blocks.

Prizes $400,000 based on 1450 paid entries (seniors, re-entries, U1200 Section, GMs, WGMs count as half entries, U900, U600 & Unrated Sections not counted), otherwise raised or reduced in proportion, with $320,000 minimum (80% of each prize) guaranteed.

Details: https://www.chesstour.com/wo08.htm
Results: https://www.chesstour.com/wo08r.htm
Games: https://www.monroi.com


  1. My family will buy at least 3 shirts for each of us when we see you!
    Do you have any baby sizes? If not, then babies will someday grow up! Right now my order is two whites XXL and one baby sized black… Looking forward to reconnecting with folk in the East…
    Peace, and thanks for the shirts —by the way, do you have any

  2. Daaim,

    Be sure to have a few for my family. My fiance is going to Philly with me, as is my step-daughter, so if you have any shirts that fit 5-year-olds, please make them available! I prefer black to white, but might invest in one of each if you have them available.



  3. Let’s get down to brass tacks.

    After two rounds, who’s winning and does anybody know where to find scores for yesterday and today?

  4. I’ll work on it. I know that Monroi usually covers the World Open since the old worldopen.com site became outdated. Monroi has not started covering the event yet… it appears.

  5. Please hold 2 of your largest black shirts for me (and one white if possible). I’ll be arriving this evening. Thank you for all you do!!!!!

  6. Hey Kimani –

    Grab me one large black shirt, and I will pay you back when you trek back to the Bay Area this summer. Thanks.

    Daaim, keep up the great work. Peace.

  7. Quick update. I see the usual top American Grandmasters here along with an Indian contingent even larger than last year. I have counted no less than 15 players from India! Young sensation GM Parimarjan Negi won the Philadelphia International on 7-2 followed by IM Arun Prasad on 6.5-2.5. This reminds me of China’s large continent in 2001 National Open and it is a refreshing site to have these strong players in the U.S. Here are a few pictures I took.

    Orrin Hudson (Besomeone, Inc.) and Dr. Daaim Shabazz (The Chess Drum)

    IM Emory Tate playing GM Varuzhan Akobian
    and GM G.N. Gopal of India (near left) against Jonathan Tayar.

    FM Farai Mandizha of Zimbabwe playing one of the Indian nationals.

    WGMs Swati Ghate and Nisha Mohota of India.

    Dr. Kimani Stancil on the move against IM Saljivus Bercys.

  8. Alexander Shabalov was upset in an exciting encounter. His opponent Samuel Shankland probably played the game of his life. In the final position, …Qxh2+ looms.

    Marc Arnold hits GM Vadim Milov with a tactical shot
    and weathers a flurry.

    Here is one of the most exciting games in the round.
    G.N. Gopal has a quick tactical eye and fends off his opponent.

  9. Artur Yusupov (or Jussupow) leads a four-way tie in the 7-day schedule with 3/4 while Evgeny Najer leads the 5-days schedule on a perfect 3/3. The 3-day schedule starts on tomorrow and will feature more top players. The Indian contigent is making their presence felt and are dotting the top boards. Inevitably, many will end up playing each other creating perhaps uncomfortable situations.

    Jiri Stocek beats Tate is a classic squeeze. The knight romp on the kingside is instructive. Tate WILL be back!

    Following is an exciting ending in Homa-Sarkar out of an exciting Sveshnikov.

    Here is an exciting game I missed from round two.
    John Bartholomew beat Eugene Perelshteyn in a slugfest.

  10. What would a World Open be without controversy. At the beginning of round #3, the tournament director had clearly informed the players of the 7-day and the 5-day, that the round would not officially start until the 4-day players arrived. He did say that they could start their games (if they felt they could endure the noise commotion). Most decided to start.

    When the 4-day players arrived, the director began to make announcements to the field about some of the regulations. Lubomir Ftacnik (Slovakia) bolted from his seat, stood up to the director and started screaming at him for talking. He wagged his finger, “Stop talking! Stop talking! I want you to stop talking now! The round has started 20 minutes ago!” The director asked the assistant directors to “handle it” and Ftacnik stormed back to his seat shaking his head.

    Perhaps Ftacnik missed the earlier announcement about starting the round. What this shows is that there are different standards in Europe and the conditions are a lot different. The Open section players play in the same room with the others which is a change from the Adams Mark where the top players were separated. I believe all of the different schedules is not normally seen in international play. That is… different sections starting at different times.

    In addition, it was very noisy even after the round started. The two players next to me, started 10 minutes late, didn’t have a clock and one player didn’t want to use the other player’s soiled and darkly-colored board. The player with the soiled board then asked my opponent if he could borrow a pawn from my chess set. So many distractions. These distractions certainly affected the atmosphere and Goichberg will have to sort these problems out.

    On a high note, it appears that the World Open has a good turnout. I have not received the official numbers, but I will do so after the 3-day section begins today.

  11. I realize how special the Adams Mark hotel was now. Apart from the inefficient elevators and the hotel needing improvements, the conditions were better and all events were on one level. There was the legendary hallway as a place to mingle and the Open section was separated from the rest of the sections. It is really horrible to have the 3-day participants banging clocks in rapid fire in the same room with everyone else. Then you have the arguments and commotion that come with rapid… the noise is unbearable at times.

    If American chess wants to retain participants, more professionalism will have to be tendered to the environment. That means everything from improving the look of the pairing charts to having an aura of professionalism for the top boards. Organizations should supply clocks and sets and have them separated from everyone else. There is a problem with lighting in the rooms and sometimes they dim unexpectantly when someone leans against the control panel. There are babies screaming out and specators’ phones ring. It’s a great tournament, but there are a few things that need to be tweaked. I hope to interview Goichberg at this tournament.

  12. Here’s an interesting player I learned of here… Kassa Korley a 14-year old student at the Dalton School in New York. Sharp as a whip, he is playing in the under-2200 section and is an intriguing player. The mark of strength is to see a player analyze a game. I saw Korley analyze with Sylvester Smarty and he was tactically alert and very animated. Kassa definitely will be a master in a less than a year. He has citizenships in three countries… Ghana, Denmark and the U.S. and dreadlocks down to his back and Yankees cap cocked at rakish angles. He has an interesting high-pitched voice and is a likable fellow. Here is the story…

    Kassa Korley at the 2008 World Open. Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

    Meet Kassa Korley!

  13. Here are a few more photos from yesterday. There is an interesting array of players here. This will be another hotly-contested tournament.

    Chikwere Onyekwere (Nigeria)
    Photo by Michael Williams.

    FM Jorge Renteria (Columbia)
    Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

    GM Ilya Smirin vs. IM John Bartholomew.
    IM Robert Hess on the move in background. Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

    Frank Johnson of shootfilm.net wearing Chess Drum shirt. Daaim Shabazz of The Chess Drum wearing wuchess.com shirt. Orrin Hudson representing his own besomeone.org. Orrin did his motivational rap at the beginning of the tournament has has been networking fiercely.

    As you walk down this street, try to see how many national flags you can name!

  14. Interesting games as things are heating up. I remember playing and beating IM Robert Hess when he was about 12 years old… well he’s come a long way and is on his way to becoming a Grandmaster. Here he shows off his skills against Geetha Naranya Gopal of India. Fantastic game ending with a vicious attack.

    IM Justin Sarkar is a very quiet and unassuming person. However, he plays one mean game of chess and I do mean MEAN!

    Standings: https://www.chesstour.com/wo08r.htm

  15. Daaim – Great coverage of the WO, as always. Thanks for giving those of us who couldn’t make the trip a sense of the “flavor” of the 2008 edition.

    Hey man, regarding the tweaks you mention, c’mon, its the WO!! Sure, it would be nice for the GM’s, etc, to be sequestered in a calm, professional type environment .. at least good for them! But when I shell out $350 to enter, I want to be able to stroll and check out a a few top board games. If General Electric was funding the $70,000 of prizes in the open, then ok .. but that’s my money they are playing for – or would be if I was there 🙂

    I love your story about someone asking your opponent to borrow a pawn from YOUR set … summer in Philly at the WO!

    Best wishes for a strong finish

  16. I second RJT’s comments! How Daaim manages to update his coverage while actually playing in the tournament, baffles me! However, I believe this constant juggling takes a toll on our correspondent’s results at the chess board. It would really be nice if some kindly souls took some of this load off Dr Shabazz, and volunteered their time to TCD coverage. Just a thought …

    Keep the Drum beating!


  17. Thanks Rodney & Okey!

    I’m trying to resist spending so much time on coverage, but its hard not to cover a tournament like the World Open. Frank Johnson and Michael Williams have taken pictures, but if anyone wants to blog here they can. Share your experiences, games, high-lows, funny stories, heart-warming stories.

  18. Hard to believe… another World Open has come and gone. It was an interesting tournament and it was a great social networking event. Facebook and MySpace can only go so far! 🙂

    I will file reports soon. If you want to share your experiences, please do so. The word around the tournament venue was that this year’s World Open was a challenging tournament in many respects. The competition level was high with 32 GMs in the Open section. Adjusting to the conditions was also challenging. I heard a couple of Indian players remark about playing two rounds in a day. Such a schedule is very grueling at the top level.

    Here are some photos I took from yesterday. More to come!

    Board-Level shot of under-2400 section

    GM Geetha Naranya Gopal

    IM Emory Tate vs. IM Marani Venkatesh

    FM William Morrison

    GM Evgeny Najer vs. GM Parimarjan Negi


    Video by Daaim Shabazz.

  19. There was some enterprising chess at the World Open and as I said, many were talking about how difficult the competition was. I believe it is a combination of preparation with databases and the overall higher level of play that is contributing to this feeling. Here are a few games of note from round eight.

  20. Daaim – Congratulations on your strong finish! Selfishly I don’t want you to not report on the events that you play in, but if you did you’d probably become a master in short order. We’d have to start calling you Mestre Daaim!

  21. RJT,

    Mestre Daaim would be an honor, but I would be too immodest to accept that kind of title. In capoeira (a martial art I practice), “mestre” is the highest of masters. I’ll have to discipline myself not to report, but it is hard to shut myself off. Reporting on chess events is a honorable task too! 🙂

    On another note, I wanted to finish on an even score after some mental lapses in a couple of games. I was then paired with Calvin Marshall, a chess friend from Ohio. It figures. 😐 We played a very interesting theoretical game in the Sicilian, but agreed to a draw after 31 moves.

  22. Here is a game Kimani Stancil played at the World Open. It’s kind of Tatesque.

    Stanley,D (2023) – Stancil,K (2196) [B45]
    World Open 2008 (6), 05.07.2008

    1.e4 e6 2.Nf3 c5 3.Nc3 Nc6 4.d4 cxd4 5.Nxd4 Nf6 6.Nxc6 bxc6 7.e5 Nd5 8.Ne4 f5 9.Ng5 Be7 10.Qh5+ g6 11.Qh6 Bf8 12.Qh3 h6 13.Bd2 Rb8 14.Bc4 Rxb2 15.Bb3 Ba6 16.Bc3 hxg5 17.Qxh8 [17.Qg3] 17…Nxc3 18.Qg8 Qa5 19.Qxg6+ Kd8 20.Qxg5+ Be7 21.Qh6 Ne4+ 22.Kd1 Bg5 23.Qf8+ Kc7 0-1 (See Game)

    Here’s my contribution…

    Shabazz,D – Spigel,D [B30]
    World Open (8), 06.07.2008

    1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.Nc3 Nc6 4.Bb5 Nge7 5.0-0 a6 6.Bxc6 Nxc6 7.d4 cxd4 8.Nxd4 Be7 9.Re1 d6 10.Nxc6 bxc6 11.Qg4 0-0 12.Bh6 Bf6 13.e5 dxe5 14.Rad1 Qe7 15.Ne4 Kh8 16.Be3 Rg8 17.Bc5 Qe8 18.Nd6 Qf8 19.Qf3 Bd7 20.Rxe5 Be8 21.Nc8 Bxe5 22.Bxf8 Rxf8 23.Qa3 Kg8 24.Ne7+ Kh8 25.Ng6+ 1-0 (See Game)

  23. In order for Dr Shabazz to display any games, he needs to have them publicly accessible, or the player has to give Daaim his/her games directly. Neither situation exists for Chi-chi’s World Open games. I suppose I could ask Chikwere if he wants them published here.

  24. Sunny,
    Unfortunately, Chikwere did not have one of his best showings, but I remember at least one of his games being very dynamic. I have two of Oladapo Adu’s games which he showed me during which I audio-recorded his analysis. I am making them into an audio/visual file. You’ll enjoy them!

    Maybe Dr. Okey can give us one of his games! 🙂

    Here is a picture of Chi-Chi playing FM William “The Exterminator” Morrison.

  25. My friend Dr. Okey brings of this contribution. He is playing the Scandanavian now! What no French??

    [Event “World Open (U2400)”]
    [Site “Philadelphia, PA USA”]
    [Date “2008.07.05”]
    [Round “6”]
    [White “Ju, Evan D”]
    [Black “Iwu, Okechukwu N”]
    [Result “0-1”]
    [WhiteElo “2292”]
    [BlackElo “2210”]
    [ECO “B01”]
    [EventDate “2008.07.02”]

    1.e4 d5 2.exd5 Qxd5 3.Nc3 Qa5 4.d4 Nf6 5.Bc4 c6 6.Nf3 Bf5 7.Ne5 e6 8.g4 g6 9.Nxg6 hxg6 10.Bd2 Qb6 11.Qe2 Qxd4 12.g5 Nd5 13.O-O-O Be7 14.Bxd5 cxd5 15.Qb5+ Nd7 16.Rhe1 Qc5 17.Qxb7 Rb8 18.Qa6 O-O 19.Na4 Qc7 20.f4 Rfc8 21.Qd3 Bb4 22.c3 Qa5 23.Qc2 Bd6 24.Be3 Rb4 25.Rd4 Rxd4 26.Bxd4 Rc4 27.b3 Rxd4 28.b4 Bxb4 29.cxb4 Qxb4 30.Re3 Qxa4 31.Qc8+ Nf8 0-1 (See Game)

  26. Here is the gamecast video I’ve just produced. It features analysis of IM Oladapo Adu. Click here!

    (Note: I forgot to mention… also heard in the gamecast is National Master Glenn Bady (opposite of Adu), FM Norman Rogers and myself.)

  27. That was a good gamecast. Listening to Adu’s casual commentary about players on the rise was also interesting.

    Keep the beat going!

  28. It was great seeing everyone at the World Open…especially Frank and John…I’m always amazed by the amount of people who make the trek every year…I do really miss the Adam’s Mark Hotel. The quality of service has definitely gone down. I saw problems from TD inexperience, Poor lighting, to smaller events starting 45 min after advertised times. We all know what make events are the people, but we must demand better service! Here’s one of the characters who makes it up every year…This is Tom Murphy playing GM Vadim Milov in the blitz tourney… Milov won the first game with one second on his clock!

  29. Michael,

    I’m glad you got this clip. I was exhausted and went back the hotel after watching my friend Kazim Gulamali a couple rounds. I got a short clip of Chi-Chi and Exterminator in a blitz session. It’s always good to see people in action. I’ll be better prepared next year!

  30. Just got an e-mail from GM Pontus Carlsson. He just finished 5th on 7-6 in the Swedish Championships. The World Open may be one GM stronger if he can get him to Philly. There is a strong possibility of him playing next year, but coming from Sweden is not cheap.

  31. Daaim, I was hoping to get some more footage, but it was already 1:15am with 2 rds to go…I should have caught more of Chi Chi and Morrison. That was a slugfest. Enjoyed the gamecast.
    I’m always surprised that Chessbase rarely mentions the World Open.

  32. ChessBase focuses on Europe. Every now and then, they get some stories sent in from India, Iran or another country, but it’s basically Eurocentric. I talked to Frederic Friedel about the World Open and he told me he expected us to cover it. I remember sitting across from him at the 2004 Olympiad and we discussed some things.

    I do understand because they don’t have anybody on the ground to report here. It’s hard to get good help. The USCF has Jennifer Shahade and I saw Macauley Peterson there, but apart from The Chess Drum, USCF and Monroi, there was nothing. I’m not sure I’ll play next year… I may merely cover the event and set up a booth.

  33. Here is the video by Macauley Peterson of Chess.FM. He told me he had interviewed Negi, but I had not seen the production on the ICC website. Well… here it is.

    “Four players tied for First in the 36th Annual World Open in Philadelphia (July 6), but Evgeny Najer (Russia) from Moscow, earned the World Open title by winning an Armageddon-style blitz playoff over Parimarjan Negi (India). Both players had edged out Alexander Moiseenko (Ukraine) and Lubomir Ftacnik (Slovakia) on tie-breaks to reach the playoff. All four took home over $12,000 for their efforts! Macauley spoke to Najer, Negi, and Moiseenko after the critical last round, and filed this report:

    Video by Macauley Peterson/Chess.FM.

  34. It was great seeing everybody at the World Open, although I wish I would have performed better. I’ll try to get into some decent playing shape for my next big tourney after getting some other stuff under control academically and personally. Daaim, if you saved that picture of me and my family, I’d love to see how it turned out.

    I echoe the sentiment about missing the Adam’s Mark as a tournament site, even though the current area is better for between- or after-round lounging or eating. The ballroom setup was just much better there, with the Open section having two rooms that were separate from everything else and with a lot more space for analysis of games and blitz challenges. Additionally, the Sheraton just does not have enough space for tournament guests, and the Radisson was somewhat distant from the tournament.

    The biggest problem that I had with the event is that the hotels had vastly different parking rates, and there were no good options to avoid having to deal with this at the Radisson. At the Sheraton, tournament players paid $5 per day for parking; at the Radisson, it was $30. Since I played the 5-day schedule, this amounts to an extra $100 to participate in the same event, a situation that the organizers half-heartedly admitted to not thinking about. Adequate space for participants and for supporting the competition needs to be a priority if the organizers hope to continue to draw such huge crowds.



  35. Maliq,

    I haven’t set up a photo gallery with my pics, but the picture came out wonderful. Hey… give me a raincheck on dinner and I’ll give you the raincheck on the t-shirts. Here is the pic! I hope you like it.

    At the World Open was doctoral student Maliq with his fiance Dominique and her daughter Gabrielle! Gabrielle was absolutely adorable, a bundle of joy and a social butterfly. 🙂

  36. This is the first time I visited your site. It’s very interesting. I am a black New York resident and have been playing chess for years. This is the first black site I’ve found. Keep up the good work, It’s awesome! I don’t compete in matches. I’m more a student of the game than an actual participate.

  37. Hi, I know I’m two years late, but I am a black man, and I won the U1400 section in 2008 and got NO love from The Chess Drum! I know it’s U1400, but the mental toughness and preparation AND scoring points are the SAME in each section! The objective is to WIN your section, which is a HARD feat to do, when you’re going up against people of similar strength and sandbaggers from all over the world over a course of NINE gut-wrenching games! I didn’t play last year, but I’m playing in 2010 to defend my 08 title, in the U1600… nonetheless, I love this site!!

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