“Young Lions” roar at Liberty Open

Philadelphia is where chess happens! The “City of Brotherly Love” has become the hub for several major U.S. tournaments on the east coast. The Sheraton Hotel is also the home of the Philadelphia International, World Open, the National Congress and the Liberty was having its 44th edition during the King Holiday weekend. The tournament drew over 500 entrants.

Columbia University freshman Victor Shen scored 6/7 to win 1st ahead of several luminaries. The FIDE Master from New Jersey toppled top-ranked IM Leonid Gerzhoy (2595 USCF) in round five before drawing out against blitz-specialist Yaacov Norowitz (2552) and IM Mauricio Santana (2418).

NM Justus Williams. Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

National Master Justus Williams

Most persons following American chess tournaments understand that they are “youth-oriented” with many of the top sections populated by scholastic players. The Open section had 52 players and nearly half appeared to be under-21. Several of the New York contingent players competed including the trio of 13-year old African-American Masters Justus Williams, Josh Colas and James Black, Jr. In this tournament, both Williams and Black vaulted over 2300.

Amazingly, Williams was the highest finisher amongst all New York players including GM Vladimir Romanenko. He finished with 4.5/7 and a 2452 performance. Black tallied 4/7 with a 2362 performance drawing FM Thomas Bartell (2416) and IM Dean Ippolito (2531). Colas got 3.5/7 with five draws including Mark Kai (2521) and a 102-move marathon with FM Alisa Melekhina (2321). All three had creditable performances and we can look to further successes given the support they have garnered from HEAF.

Official Site: https://www.libertybellopen.com/

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NM Justus Williams (2283 >>> 2316)

1: Mark Wong Kai (2516 P14), ½
2: Michael Chiang (2245), 1
3: Aaron Kahn (2378), 1
4: IM Mauricio Santana (2339), 0
5: Michael Bodek (2361), 0
6: David Hua (2299), 1
7: Christopher Wu (2283), 1

Result: 4½/7 (2452 TPR)

NM James Black, Jr. (2296 >>> 2305)

1: Srinivas Moorthy (1952), 1
2: Michael Bodek (2361), ½
3: FM Thomas Bartell (2421), ½
4: FM Arthen Shen (2342), 0
5: Angel Mera (2196), 1
6: IM Dean Ippolito (2549), ½
7: Benjamin Krause (2241), ½

Result: 4/7 (2362 TPR)

NM Josh Colas (2233 >>> 2232)

1: FM Thomas Bartell (2421), 0
2: Sriniva Moorthy, (1952), ½
3: Jonathan Richman (2127), ½
4: Brian Lawson (2031), 1
5: Christopher Wu (2283), ½
6: Mark Wong Wai (2516 P14), ½
7: FM Alisa Melekhina (2321), ½

Result: 3½/7 (2237 TPR)


  1. I don’t know the equations. I didn’t know that Josh at 2233 could wind end up with a -1 rating change because of a 2237 TPR. The other two make sense to me; Williams’ 2452 performance rating earning him 33 points and Black’s 2362 performance rating earning him 9 points.

    1. Yes… it is possible since performance ratings looks at your final score overall and compares it will your expected result. Josh performed just at his level, but has held by a couple of players he was favored heavily to beat… including the 1900 player. It does seem like he should have had a net gain.

    2. Both Colas and Williams experienced a little less gain than normal from their draws with Mark Kai. This is because Kai’s rating is still provisional. The rating system dampens the effect of any result against a provisionally rated player.

      (Side note: Kai plays out of CMU in Pittsburgh right now. It’s not clear that he’s really 2500 strength, but he is definitely a master.)

      1. thanx. But are all dampening effects acconted for in the TPR itself? Or are some of them assessed above and beyond the TPR? Unless its the latter, 2233 + 2237 TPR looks like it should be zero ratings gain at worst.

        1. The TPR doesn’t take into account the nuances of the rating formula. For example, things like K factor, bonus points and provisional status of opponent aren’t used.

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