2014 World Open (Arlington, USA)

The historic World Open is being held in Arlington, Virginia for the second year in a row at the Crystal City Hyatt. The field has attracted a strong Cuban contingent including defending champion Lazaro Bruzon and Cuba’s national champion Isan Reynaldo Ortiz Suarez. A horde of international players are in the field which should make for an exciting tournament! Gata Kamsky will attempt to hold home turf as well as a horde of promising juniors. Stay tuned!

42nd Annual World Open
June 30-July 6, 2014
Hyatt Regency Crystal City
2799 Jefferson Davis Highway
Arlington, Virginia

* * *

PROJECTED PRIZE FUND: $250,000…
$200,000 GUARANTEED!
Ten Sections!

See WorldOpen.com!
Standings, PGN Games

18 Comments

  1. Selected Photos from World Open (July 2, 2014)

    Photos by Daaim Shabazz.


    Players waiting for pairings for 5-day. Everyone seemed to be in a good mood until…


    …the pairings were more than one hour late! 🙁


    GMs Irina Krush, Yury Shulman and Gata Kamsky.

    Pairings are up for under-2400!

    IM Angelo Young (middle) checks the pairings in the Open Section FM Kassa Korley behind him.

    Open Section pairings finally up!

    GM Gata Kamsky

    GM Ehsan Ghaem Maghami of Iran waits to begin his game. No clock. In my interview with him he complained about having to bring own equipment. This scene highlights one of the issues foreign players have when playing here.

    FM Ruifeng Li begins against Cuba’s Isan Ortiz Suarez

    It’s a sharp Najdorf! The junior is not afraid of the challenge.

    GM Lazaro Bruzon Batista

    Kamsky facing FM Arthur Shen while Bruzon is on the move against GM Larry Kaufman.

    Kaufman at the board against Bruzon.

    Tournament Directors

    Christopher Yang vs. FM William Morrison, 1-0

    IM-elect Kassa Korley

    IM Luke Harmon-Vellotti

    John Michael Burke

    IM Farai Mandizha won against Matt Paul Slomski.

    Dr. Okechukwu Iwu, under-2400

    Adia Onyango (Kenya), under-2000.

    Dr. Kimani Stancil, under-2400

    GM Timur Gareyev vs. IM Ari Dale (Australia), 1-0

    FM Atulya Shetty

  2. Selected Photos from World Open (July 3, 2014)
    Photos by Daaim Shabazz.

    View from hotel window. This area is a relatively new development. Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

    This area is a relatively new development.

    Open Section. Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

    IM Andrey Gorovets vs. GM Gata Kamsky (1/2)
    GM Lazaro Bruzon vs. IM Kassa Korley (1/2)

    Korley plays the Alekhine for the first time! Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

    Korley plays the Alekhine for the first time!

    Pairings are up for under-2400! Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

    Takes a lot of courage to play that against Bruzon.

    Open Section. Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

    Justin Sarkar vs. Ilya Smirin (0-1)
    Raja Panjwani vs. Viktor Laznicka (0-1)

    Open Section. Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

    Nigeria’s Uche Agu

    FM Michael Bodek (USA) vs. GM Illia Nyzhnyk (Ukraine) and Isan Ortiz Suarez (Cuba) vs. IM Richard Wang (Canada) Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

    USA’s FM Michael Bodek vs. Ukraine’s GM Illia Nyzhnyk (1/2)
    Cuba’s Isan Ortiz Suarez vs. Canada’s IM Richard Wang (1/2)
    Great results by the youngsters!

    GM Mark Paragua. Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

    GM Mark Paragua (Philippines)

    Open Section. Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

    Cuban GM Yuri Gonzalez Vidal (left) vs. scholastic standout FM Ruifeng Li

    Open Section. Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

    FM Awonder Liang

    Korley getting ready for next round after drawing with GM Lazaro Bruzon with the Alekhine! Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

    Korley getting ready for next round after drawing with GM Lazaro Bruzon with the Alekhine!

    Playing Hall. Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

    Playing Hall

    Delicious Ethiopian cuisine from Enjera Restaurant, 549 S. 23rd Street, Arlington, VA. This is the vegetable platter with green salad, split peas, spicy lentils, alicha and greens. It sits on a bed of injera bread which is made of teff flour. Highly nutritious! Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

    “Delicious Ethiopian cuisine from Enjera Restaurant, 549 S. 23rd Street, Arlington, VA. This is the vegetable platter with green salad, split peas, spicy lentils, alicha and greens. It sits on a bed of injera bread which is made of teff flour. Highly nutritious!

    Mario Marshall enjoyed his first taste of Ethiopian. Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

    Mario Marshall enjoyed his first taste of Ethiopian.

    Nothing better than a great meal after chess. You have to feed the body too! Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

    Nothing better than a great meal after chess. You have to feed the body too!

    Enjera Restaurant.

    Enjera Restaurant

    1. Excellent food and good chess lessons.
      (I now wish I wore a better shirt).

      Keep up the good work Daaim.

  3. Selected Photos from World Open (July 4, 2014)
    Photos by Daaim Shabazz.

    Tour of Crystal City Center. Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

    Walking tour of Crystal City Center area.

    Tour of Crystal City Center. Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

    Tour of Crystal City Center. Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

    Tour of Crystal City Center. Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

    Tour of Crystal City Center. Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

    Tour of Crystal City Center. Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

    Open Section. Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

    Crystal City Hyatt. Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

    Crystal City Hyatt. Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

    Brooklyn in the House! Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

    Brooklyn in the House! James Jeffrey, Ernest Colding and Raynaldo McNally.

    Nigerians & two friends: (L-R) Charles Campbell, Iyobebe Owolo Hanson, Precious Acheru, Efemuai Odafe Benedict, Uche Agu, Daaim Shabazz, Lolomari E. George, Robert Asibor, Vanita Young and Paul Obiwame. Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

    Nigerians & two friends: (L-R) Charles Campbell, Iyobebe Owolo Hanson, Precious Acheru, Efemuai Odafe Benedict, Uche Agu, Daaim Shabazz, Lolomari E. George, Robert Asibor, Vanita Young and Paul Obiwame.

    Playing Hall... electricity abound! Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

    Playing Hall… electricity abound!

    Playing Hall... electricity abound!. Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

    FM Kazim Gulamali vs. IM Justin Sarkar. Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

    FM Kazim Gulamali vs. IM Justin Sarkar

    Tyrell Harriott in action. Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

    Tyrell Harriott in action.

    Elevator View. Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

    Elevator View

    This venue is a lot more tournament-friendly than the Philadelphia Sheraton. Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

    This venue is a lot more tournament-friendly than the Philadelphia Sheraton.

    It was quite a scene! Chess makes people joyful. :-) Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

    It was quite a scene! Chess makes people joyful. 🙂

    Steven Emmitt making his pre-round announcements. Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

    Steven Emmitt making his pre-round announcements.

    Yuniesky Perez and Alex Lenderman wait on opponents. Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

    Yuniesky Perez and Alex Lenderman wait on opponents.

    Intensity rises! Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

    Intensity rises!

    GM Viktor Laznicka vs. GM Josh Friedel, GM Ilya Smirin  vs. FM Razvan Preotu. Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

    GM Viktor Laznicka vs. GM Josh Friedel, 1/2
    GM Ilya Smirin vs. FM Razvan Preotu, 1-0

    FM Larry Gilden taking a nap during his game with Jeevan Karamsetty. He lost. Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

    FM Larry Gilden taking a nap during his game with Jeevan Karamsetty.
    He lost this under-2400 battle.

    All ages. Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

    All ages!

    Adia Onyango and Stephanie Ballom. Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

    Adia Onyango and Stephanie Ballom

    Tavon Carter, blitz extraordanaire playing blitz phenom and triathlete Hans Moke Niemann. Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

    Tavon Carter, blitz extraordinaire playing blitz phenom Hans Moke Niemann.

    Tavon Carter, blitz extraordanaire playing blitz phenom and triathlete Hans Moke Niemann. Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

    IM Mark Esserman kibitzes.

    Tavon Carter, blitz extraordanaire playing blitz phenom and triathlete Hans Moke Niemann. Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

    Tavon Carter, blitz extraordanaire playing blitz phenom and triathlete Hans Moke Niemann. Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

    Tavon Carter, blitz extraordanaire playing blitz phenom and triathlete Hans Moke Niemann. Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

    Tavon Carter, blitz extraordanaire playing blitz phenom and triathlete Hans Moke Niemann. Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

    Farai Mandizha and wife Respina Jani-Mandizha. Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

    Farai Mandizha and wife Respina Jani-Mandizha.
    Photos by Daaim Shabazz.

  4. Selected Photos from World Open (July 5, 2014)
    Photos by Daaim Shabazz.

    Dr. Daaim Shabazz and Dr. Kimani Stancil

    Getting ready for Round Six… playing Andrew Roach!

    Cuban GM Comrades
    Yuniesky Quesada Perez & Isan Reynaldo Ortiz Suarez

    GM Yuniesky Quesada Perez vs. GM Isan Reynaldo Ortiz Suarez (1/2)
    GM Ilya Smirin vs. GM Illia Nyzhnyk (1/2)

    FM Cameron Wheeler and IM Rusadan Goletiani shakes hands.
    Wheeler won.

    WGM Anna Sharevich, a new addition to the U.S. women’s Olympiad team.

    FM Philip Corbin facing Billy Turner (1/2)

    Billy Turner facing FM Philip Corbin (1/2)

    David Paulina… with his lion’s mane!

    Finally met the legendary Walter Harris!

    Alex Lenderman battling Cuba’s Perez. (0-1)

    GM Eshan Ghaem Maghami of Iran

    WIM Prathiba Yuvaraja of India

    Can you find all the women competitors in this photo?

    Dr. Paul Obiwame of England

    An evening with Walter Harris!

    Walter Harris with Yvette Fannell

    IM Kassa Korley chatting with Walter Harris.

    Getting set for the interview!

    Here we go!

    What an honor to have gotten such pearls of wisdom! Very insightful.

    Nigerians present me with a gift!!
    (L-R) Nnamdi Nwoye, Uche Agu and Oluwaseun Bisiriyu.
    Thank you!

    Blitz Battles… Nigerians versus New York’s finest.

  5. Usually, it is the crisp journalism that makes the reader feels as if he/she is actually at the location. In this case, it’s the vibrant camerawork that transports the reader to Arlington. Great job Daaim!

  6. Selected Photos from World Open (July 6, 2014)
    Photos by Daaim Shabazz.

    Class Sections

    Mantra Vivek taking a glance. Her father notice I took a picture in her vicinity and asked if I’d take another. She has only been playing eight months and has a rating of 1200!

    Here is the result. Nice!

    Glenn Bady’s daughter Grace Bady with the colorful barrettes. The father of the opponent told Glenn that their daughters were playing and how cute it was. So… Glenn and I went to see.

    The legendary Tom Murphy, mayor of Dupont Circle.

    Me with Robert Teachy who teaches chess at the U.S. Chess Center.

    The capitol building at a distance.

    DC traffic with a plane landing in Reagan International. The plane have to take a circuitous route around the government building since 9/11.

    Walter Harris with old colleagues Philip Collier and Frank Brady.

    I called GM Maurice Ashley and had him to speak to Walter Harris.
    What a moment!

    Then I gathered a bunch of players to meet Mr. Harris. He seemed overwhelmed by the attention, but was very kind.

    New Yorkers with Mr. Harris

    Me and Adia Onyango with Walter Harris

    IM Kassa Korley battling against Isan Reynaldo Ortiz Suarez.

    GM Conrad Holt vs. GM Mark Paragua (1-0)
    GM Yuri Gonzalez Vidal vs. GM Gata Kamsky (1/2)

    GM Illia Nyhzhnyk vs. GM Yuniesky Quesada Perez (1/2)

    Daaim Shabazz, FM Kazim Gulamali, IM-elect Kassa Korley

    Charles Campbell (Nigeria) playing in blitz tournament.

    Hans Moke Niemann vs. IM Luke Harmon-Vellotti

    IM Priyadh Kannappan

    Alex Lenderman and Luis Flaquer draw a crowd. Flaquer upset Lenderman in the two-game match! Luis was in wonderful form having just scored 7.5/9 in the under-2400 section.

    Pairings for final round of blitz tournament.

    Top tables… Ehsan Ghaem Maghami of Iran won the tournament.

    Final results in the Open Section. As we can see Holt’s result was quite a surprise.

    Mariah and Maya McGreen. They have a brother Jabari McGreen who is also a Tournament Director. In fact one of the youngest in the country!

    CUBANS!!
    GM Yuri Gonzalez Vidal, GM Yuniesky Quesada Perez
    GM Lazaro Bruzon Batista
    Cuba Cuba Cuba

    Daaim Shabazz and Uche Agu

    Ernest Colding vs. Efemuai Odafe Benedict

  7. Smirin conquers ’14 World Open

    The World Open remains America’s premier open tournament as players from around the world assemble to compete for the nation’s largest prize fund of $250,000 of which $200,000 is guaranteed. The tournament was held June 30-July 6, 2014 at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City, 2799 Jefferson Davis Highway, Arlington, Virginia.

    Open Section. Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

    Ilya Smirin (center left) found himself ahead of the pack.

    There are always surprise appearances at the World Open and this year’s surprise was a strong contingent of Cubans who have been touring the U.S. and punishing the opposition. Israeli GM Ilya Smirin came out on top in the field of 95 participants after besting GM Illia Nyzhnyk of the Ukraine in an Armageddon game. Both players tallied 7/9 along with America’s GM Conrad Holt, who scored a career-best finish. GM Yuniesky Quesada Perez in contention throughout, but had to settle for fourth place after drawing with Smirin and Nyzhnyk the last two rounds. The official report stated,

    In order of tiebreaks Ilya Smirin was 1st, Illia Nyzhnyk was 2nd and Conrad Holt was 3rd. The top two on tiebreaks played a special Armageddon blitz playoff, white had 5 minutes, black had 3 minutes and draw odds (a 5-second delay was used). Smirin had the best tiebreaks of the three, chose white, won the game and therefore received the title of 2014 World Open Champion and an additional $254 bonus prize.

    The 42nd World Open attracted more than 1100 players to Arlington, Virginia with 95 in the Open section, 112 in the under-2400, 180 in under-2200, 193 in under-2000, 171 in under 1800, 125 in under-1600, 78 in under-1400, 72 in under-1200, 71 in under-900/unrated and 19 in the unrated/provisional section. There a number of side tournaments as well.

    Playing Hall... electricity abound! Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

    The Crystal City Hyatt in Arlington seems preferable to the Philadelphia Sheraton in Center City. There were not many complaints on the hotel itself.

    This venue is a lot more tournament-friendly than the Philadelphia Sheraton. Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

    There were plenty of places to socialize and analyze games without disturbing the games in progress.

    One of the newest features of CCA tournaments is the mixed doubles teams that are composed of one male and one female whose tandem rating average is less than 2200. The end result is an increase in female participation. If one observed the tournament hall, 40-50% appeared to be less than 21 years old and a good number in the lower sections were female. The open section featured some of the best and brightest American scholastic players with several earning norms.

    The list of norms is as follows:

    FM Sean Nagle, IM Norm (3rd IM Norm)
    Christopher Gu, IM Norm
    FM Atulya Shetty, IM Norm
    Mika Brattain, IM Norm
    Ethan Li, IM Norm
    FM Kevin Wang, IM Norm
    FM Denys Shmelov, IM Norm (3rd IM Norm)
    FM Kassa Korley, IM Norm (3rd IM Norm)
    FM Razvan Preotu, GM Norm (played 8 GMs)

    Korley getting ready for next round after drawing with GM Lazaro Bruzon with the Alekhine! Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

    FM Kassa Korley earned his second IM norm in a matter of a couple of weeks. These will go with his first in 2011 for the required three norms and his 2400+ ELO rating. The title will be conferred in Tromso, Norway.

    FM Atulya Shetty got an IM norm and will be attending the University of Michigan in the fall.

    Standings: https://chesstournamentservices.com/
    Photos: https://www.thechessdrum.net/

  8. Drum Interviews @ ’14 World Open

    World Open is a bonanza that attracts so many chess aficionados far and wide. Each year, droves of competitors assemble on the tournament not only to play, but to socialize and to participate in America’s most well-known tournament. The 2014 World Open would be memorable for a number of reasons.


    Dominique Myers earned his National Master title at the World Open.
    Photo by Charlotte Chess Center.

    The Chess Drum was able to conduct some very interesting interviews during the tournament. These interviews always capture the diverse backgrounds and reveal what makes people so passionate about the game. This year the interviews ranged from up-and-coming players to mid-level masters to retired legends to world-class Grandmasters! Please sit back and enjoy these interviews and feel free to give your feedback!

    NM Dominique Myers (USA) – This Charlotte native discusses his quest to earn the National Master title. The full-time college student left the scholastic scene in 2010 and finally broke the 2200 barrier at the 2014 World Open. He cites FM Ron Simpson as an inspiration and dedicated his title to him. He joins an elite group of players representing the top 1% of players in the country. He also joins the coveted “Drum Majors” list of masters of African ancestry. 5:23 minutes

    NM Walter Harris (USA) – This is a classic interview for the mere fact that National Master Walter Harris had not visited a chess tournament in 30-40 years. Harris shares pearls of wisdom in recounting his experiences as a player emerging in the 50s. He is known to The Chess Drum audience as the first Black player to earn the U.S. National Master title, a feat earned during his 5th place finish at the 1959 U.S. Junior Open.

    He proceeds to discuss the legend of Bobby Fischer, the Marshall Chess Club, the Hawthorne Chess Club and the chess scene as it was then. He even recounted his exchanges with Fischer as an up and coming player. Fischer had later befriended one of Harris’ mentors Archie Waters. It would be Waters who helped sponsor Harris on his way to becoming a Master. Fascinating! 26:10 minutes


    Walter Harris chats with old chess contemporaries Philip Collier
    and Fischer biographer Frank Brady.


    Dr. Kimani Stancil and Dr. Daaim Shabazz
    flanked by legends NM Walter Harris and NM Frank Street.
    Photos by Daaim Shabazz.

    NM Frank Street (USA) – Mr. Street is a familiar face to World Open participants not because he is playing on the top boards, but because he comes every year to observe the games and socialize. Street is known by is 1965 U.S. Amateur Championship and was on the cover of the Chess Life & Review (left). He spoke about his life in chess and a very amusing anecdote about his initial exposure to the game in high school. Most of us can relate to this story. 🙂20:25 minutes

    IM Kassa Korley (USA) – This senior at Duke University has had a wonderful year. He has spent this past year in Denmark for study abroad where he played in a number of tournaments. Already having one norm in 2011, he earned a second norm at the DC International two weeks before earning his third and final at the New York International. Thus, he has completed the requirements for the International Master title. In this interview, Korley discusses about some deep philosophies about his approach to the game. Very insightful! 22:32 minutes

    Pairings are up for under-2400! Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

    IM-elect Kassa Korley playing Alekhine against Cuba’s Lazaro Bruzon.
    Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

    IM Farai Mandizha (Zimbabwe) – In the absence of Robert Gwaze, Mandizha will man the top board for Zimbabwe in the Tromso Olympiad. He talks about his evolution as a player, the chess scene in Zimbabwe, African chess, his work in chess education, his new marriage and what he thinks of World Champion Magnus Carlsen. 21:35 minutes

    Zimbabwe’s IM Farai Mandizha
    Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

    FM Philip Corbin (Barbados) – A legendary figure in Bajan chess… seven-time national champion and author of acclaimed book, “Calypso Chess“. Known as the “Caribbean Tal” he loves to play swashbuckling chess and still employs tricky openings such as the Elephant Gambit. This is his first World Open since 1985, a tournament in which he played a memorable game against Peter Chubinsky. He discusses a wide variety of topics including why he came out of retirement to play in the World Open. 14:41 minutes

    Calypso Chess by Dr. Philip Corbin

    Dr. Philip Corbin has had a very venerable career in Barbadian or “Bajan” chess. He is perhaps known most for his swashbuckling attacking style and affinity for the Elephant Gambit (seen in the photo). Get a copy of his book Calypso Chess here!

    Uche Agu (Nigeria) – Uche trekked all the way from Nigeria with 11 other players. He discussed his impression of the tournament and what it means to the chess culture of his country. He mentions the new administration and their quest to market chess to the youth. Chess is on the rise in Nigeria. He also talks about Nigerians’ love for quick chess and why! He speaks about Millionaire Chess and appreciation of The Chess Drum! 19:31 minutes

    Open Section. Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

    Uche Agu was among 12 players traveling from Nigeria.
    Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

    GM Eshan Ghaem Maghami (Iran) – Iran’s top player talks to us about his experience at the World Open. Coming to the U.S. for the third time, he shares his impressions of the tournament and the chess scene in Iran. Despite suffering jet lag from a long flight, he recovered and tallied 6.5/9. We discussed the Iran’s participation in Olympiad and the rise of chess in the Asian region. Interesting to hear from a place that is often maligned in the media.10:54 minutes

    GM Ehsan Ghaem Maghami of Iran (near right) waits to begin his game. No clock. In my interview with him he complained about having to bring own equipment. This scene highlights one of the issues foreign players have when playing here. Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

    Alisa Melekhina (round 1)

    FM Alisa Melekhina shown here at the 2012 U.S. Championships. Since then she has graduated from law school and started sublite.net. Find out how she does it! Photo by CCSCSL.

    FM Alisa Melekhina (USA) – Perhaps one of the most versatile players in the female circuit. A classical ballerina, her father exposed her to chess at an early age and she rose quietly and steadily to the point of qualifying for the U.S. Women’s Championship. Having just finished law school at the University of Pennsylvania, she was at the World Open visiting friends while also studying for the New York bar exam. She also shed light on her entrepreneurial endeavors and shared how she was able to multi-task so successfully. The interview also discussion women’s chess and whether there should be gender-based tournaments and titles. She also touts Maurice Ashley’s “Millionaire Chess“. 23:20 minutes

  9. Marcus Mosiah Garvey

    Marcus Garvey was famous for his revolutionary movement at the turn of the 20th century known as the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA). At the height of his powers, he attracted nearly 4,000,000 followers. His idea was to unite all of those of African ancestry under the banner of Pan-Africanism for political, industrial and social uplift. He incidentally called his famous shipping project, “The Black Star Line”. Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, Ghana’s first President, was inspired by Garvey’s idea of Pan-Africanism and the black star remains the prominent symbol of the Ghana flag.

    The World Open has traditionally been a party where stars are born. It is were players like Hikaru Nakamura and Fabiano Caruana cut their teeth on the toughest competition they would face as juniors. Many come to the World Open to make a name at the expense of highly-touted players. IM Stephen Muhammad made a career out of terrorizing strong players at the World Open and earning one of his three norms at the tournament.

    Adia Onyango and Stephanie Ballom. Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

    Adia Onyango and Stephanie Ballom

    This past week, Walter Harris came to visit the World Open and was impressed by all the Black players competing. On numerous occasions he mentioned how “lonely” it was coming up in the 50s as the only player of his ethnicity. Of course he had contemporaries such as Frank Street and Kenneth Clayton, but none of them were on a stage as large as the World Open. Harris had not visited a tournament in 30-40 years and it was quite a scene to see admirers meeting him and his reaction. Street still follows chess and visits the World Open every year but said that there was not a time in the 60s when practically the entire hotel was dominated by a chess tournament!


    Dr. Kimani Stancil and Dr. Daaim Shabazz flanked by legends NM Walter Harris and NM Frank Street.


    IM Kassa Korley battling against Cuban Grandmaster Isan Reynaldo Ortiz Suarez.

    This year’s World Open brought to Arlington, Virginia the hopes and dreams of many. Some want to gain rating points; some wanted norms; some want to win prize money; some wanted all three. One player came from Charlotte, North Carolina to earn the Master’s title. An affable character who is studying Exercise Science at Liberty University, Dominique Myers played up in the under-2400 section. Undaunted by playing stronger competition, he scored 4/8 and vaulted over the 2200 mark. In the interview, he stated that he was inspired by the legendary Ron Simpson. He was promptly congratulated by the North Carolina chess community and of course is now a member of the “Drum Majors” list of Black chess masters.


    FM Philip Corbin is a seven-time Barbados national champion and is known as the “Caribbean Tal”. He has penned an excellent memoir titled, “Calypso Chess”.


    GM Alex Lenderman and FM Luis Flaquer draw a crowd. Flaquer upset Lenderman in the two-game match! Luis was in wonderful form having just scored 7.5/9 in the under-2400 section.

    Another sterling result came from FM Luis Flaquer who hails from the Dominican Republic. He torched the under-2400 field with 7.5/9 losing only to the co-winner of the section FM Eugene Yanayt. Flaquer is based in New York and finally made a breakthrough after fluctuating with the 2200 range. His performance netted him 99 rating points (2211-2310) and $7,630.50. While the usual Afro-Hispanic players were absent this year, Flaquer made an impression.

    One other attractions to the World Open tournament is the excitement that comes with observing the grittiness of chess hustling. This is one of the most noticeable fixtures in the skittles rooms at the World Open. A number of street chess legends trek to the World Open to catch unsuspecting players who accept odds for a chance at winning stakes. The back-and-forth banter, frenetic pace and the flying of chess pieces make this scene one of the most anticipated every year.

    Tavon Carter, blitz extraordanaire playing blitz phenom and triathlete Hans Moke Niemann. Photo by Daaim Shabazz.
    Tavon Carter, blitz extraordinaire playing blitz phenom Hans Moke Niemann.


    Blitz Battles… Nigerians versus New York’s finest.


    The legendary blitzer Tom Murphy, mayor of Dupont Circle.

    One of the players having achieved notoriety is Tavon Carter, an Internet sensation who posted some of his blitz exploits online. Then there are the New York hustlers with names like “Sun God,” “Sammy the Sandman,” “Sting Ray” and of course Tom Murphy, a Dupont Circle blitz legend. However, this year you have a dozen Nigerians who raided the blitz halls to play these hustlers and there were some spirited battles with Nigerian trashtalk… “giving an opponent some fufu”.

    Last but not the least is seeing players of African descent on the top boards during the World Open. Since there are so few of these players active, a new crop is emerging with IMs Farai Mandizha and Kassa Korley making way for players like Justus Williams, Josh Colas and James Black. Then there are the legendary figures such as Ernest Colding and William “Exterminator” Morrison, Black Bear legends and contemporaries of Maurice Ashley.


    IM Farai Mandizha won against Matt Paul Slomski.


    FM William Morrison battling in the under-2400 section.


    NM Ernest Colding vs. Efemuai Odafe Benedict in blitz battle.
    Photos by Daaim Shabazz.

    As Ashley gears up for the Millionaire Chess Open, players of African descent will come in high numbers to support his effort and perhaps will initiate an new “Black Renaissance” or a romantic period in which players of African descent will assert greater influence in chess. Perhaps there will be other traditions created, but right now, the World Open remains as the gathering point for this energy. See you next year!

    World Open Articles

  10. Nice Pictures Daaim, Who is the highest rated player of African descent? and what do u mean by a new “Black Renaisance?”.

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