A total of 984 players showed up at the 2017 Chicago Open causing the organizers to scramble to arrange proper space. Having been edged out by a wedding, the tournament converted a skittles room into a playing hall and certainly created initial chaos, but the tournament was able to adjust. There was still the problem of repairing sections because people did not report their results on time and/or withdrawing from the tournament.
Site of Chicago Open
The field is not a strong as in previous years, but has a cadre of young players from university and scholastic programs. The game has continued to get younger as the top sections are dominated by young players looking for scalps and norms. The question may be why did this tournament break records for attendance, but only attracted one player over 2600? Interesting question. It’s peak time for chess and players have options, but it is apparent that Chicago is an appealing place for tournament play. Perhaps, higher-rated players are tired of losing ELO points to the young scholastic sharks in the field… and there are many!
GM Samuel Sevian (left) kept the lead throughout and nudged GM Illia Nyzhnyk to win the 2017 edition. Photos by Daaim Shabazz
Samuel Sevian came into the competition seeded 4th behind Grandmasters Illia Nyzhnyk, Vladimir Belous and Andrey Stukopin. Cagey veterans such as the legendary James Tarjan, the ever-dangerous Alexander Shabalov entered the fray. New GMs such as Ruifeng Li and Akshat Chandra would make a run. IM Luke Harmon-Vellotti of Idaho, just graduated from UCLA, landed a position at Google, and at the age of 18, would see if he could test his mettle. FMs Josh Colas and Justus Williams of Webster University were looking for ELO points to try to confirm their IM titles. Everyone had their own motives.
FM Josh Colas (right) lost against GM Vladimir Georgiev,
but scored a respectable 5.5/9.
IM Luke Harmon-Velotti (center) scored his second GM norm
a few weeks after graduating from UCLA at age 18.
IM Awonder Liang scored his 3rd and final GM norm.
Sevian actually held the lead for the entire tournament with his torrid pace of 6.5/7. He beat a surging Harmon-Vellotti in round 7 to cement his lead over the field by one point. He closed out the tournament with draws with Nyzhnyk and Josh Friedel, who both scored 7/9 along with IM Michael Brown. On 6.5/9 were GMs Vladimir Belous, Andrey Stukopin, Eugene Perelshteyn and IMs Awonder Liang and Daniel Gurevich.
GM John Fedorowicz analyzed games of participants.
Photos by Daaim Shabazz
GM norms were notched by Brown, Liang and Harmon-Velotti. This will be Liang’s final GM norm. For IM norms, Matthew Larson, Robert Perez, Sam Schmakel and Aaron Grabinsky all had strong performances with 5.5/9.
In the under-2300 FM Andrew Hubbard won clear 1st with 6.5/7 followed by Zhaoqi Li with 6/7. Li, a recent immigrant, is only on record as playing in one U.S. tournament ten years ago with a provisional rating of 1798. This performance gives him a provisional rating of 2483 from 14 games! In the under-2100 section, both Roderick Scarlett of New York and Daniel X Jones from Chicago split $7500 1st place with 6/7. The under-1900 had a five-way tie for 1st with 6/9. All the class sections were won with 6.5/7… (under-1700) Christopher Autera-Polzin, (under-1500) Anatole Sullivan, (under-1300) Ivan Mitkov and (under-1000) Edward Li.
PGN Games: https://www.thechessdrum.net/games/chicagoopen2017.pgn