2017 World Open (Philadelphia, USA)

The premier chess event in America was held July 4th weekend beginning on June 30th in the iconic place of the country’s founding. Philadelphia is known for many things… Declaration of Independence, Rocky movie series, cheese steaks and soul music. For the past three decades, it has also become an institution in chess. The World Open has mostly been held in the “city of brotherly love” and seems to be the perfect place for magical moments. The 2017 had a few.

Photos by Daaim Shabazz

Nearly 1300 players came from around the country and from nearly nearly 50 countries (32 in Open Section) to compete in America’s largest open chess tournament. The prize fund was a guaranteed $225,000 with the Open Section offering $20,000 for first prize. While there has been a decline in overall strength of the tournament, the competitive nature was in full swing. The top section had more than 200 players including more than 30 Grandmasters. Top-seed Le Quang Liem of Vietnam (2726) followed by 14-year old Jeffery Xiong (2658), the current World Junior Champion.

Jeffery Xiong was steady during the entire event, but was slowed by a 1/2-point bye. He beat IM Roland Nolte in this contest. Le Quang Liem of Vietnam (foreground) gets a 14-minute headstart while waiting for GM Pavel Blatny.

17-year-old Zhansaya Abdumalik (Kazakhstan)

Le held onto the first table for most of the tournament, but a spate of draws slowed his progress and Jianchao Zhou of China passed him on 6/7. Along with Le, Tigran Petrosian and Andrey Stukopin had 5.5/7. Xiong also had the same score after taking a 1/2-point bye in round seven. However, the big surprise was 17-year-old International Master Zhansaya Abdumalik of Kazahkstan. After beating Gil Popilski of Israel, she joined the logjam a half-point from the lead! She started attracting attention, not only for the long ponytail she wore past her back but for being an increasing threat on the top boards.

In the penultimate round, Zhou-Petrosian, Le-Stukopin, Xiong-Lenderman, Zherebukh-Abdumalik were headliners. Here is how the games transpired:

Meanwhile IM Farai Mandizha of Zimbabwe was on the mark for earning his second GM norm. Here he is preparing for one of his games. Photo by Respina Mandizha

Here Mandizha polishes off GM Andrey Stukopin after the Russian made a dubious exchange sacrifice…

With one round remaining, Petrosian, Xiong, Abdumalik and Filipino Grandmaster Oliver Barbosa moved out front with 6.5/8. Abdumalik’s performance was already causing a stir, but now she would be on board one for the finale against Xiong! Petrosian would play Barbosa in the other match-up. By this time, Abdumalik (win or lose) was poised for a GM norm joining Zimbabwe’s Farai Mandizha. The teen Kazakh shined in the Chicago Open, but this has to be her best result thus far. The former world youth champion has been touring the U.S. She started miserably in St. Louis with 1/9, but now having a chance to win a major event.

For the third year in a row, Steve Immitt sang the “Star Spangled Banner” before the last round.

America has long had the national anthem before the opening of sporting events and it is certainly a different feeling at a less-fancied chess tournament. Immitt received generous applause for his efforts. Now… let’s get it on!

Abdumalik-Xiong started out in a Sicilian Najdorf and entered the fashionable 6.h3 line. This game was equal for the most part without any of the fireworks typical of such a game. It wasn’t certain whether Xiong was trying to press, but probably felt that his opponent was in good form.

A crowd assembled around the board waiting to see if history would be made.

The Petrosian-Barbosa game was gripped in a battle of a Catalan. The game was a thriller with all types of imbalances. Somewhere along the way the Filipino stumbled and allowed white an initiative after 18…Nxf8?! 19.d4! After 19…cxd4 20.Rac1 Bxd5 21.exd5 black appeared to be busted. The black king was stuck in the center and white kept striking at the center after 26.f4! The game exploded into a tactical melee after 37.Rcd1 Rxh3 38.Nxe5. Black was never able to fend off the onslaught and had to donate more material. It was hopeless and Barbosa resigned.

Petrosian (no kin to former World Champion) would end on 7.5/9 and get clear first to go along with his National Open win the previous month. Along with the US$20,500 prize, Petrosian also won the blitz tournament later on that evening beating Samuel Sevian. Blitz phenom Andrew Tang came in 2nd. As far as the World Open, it was quite a fruitful weekend for the Armenian. Even with his loss to Xiong in the 6th round he was able to recover. In 2nd-6th were Le, Xiong, Yuniesky Quesada-Perez (Cuba), Zhou and Stukopin on 7/9 and $3,960.00. Abdumalik also had 7/9, but would take the 1st under-2300 prize for $5,000.

In other sections, the winners were:

Under-2200: Ramon Manon-Og, Martin Hansen, James Lee Richardson, 7.5/9
Under-2000: Rigoberto Rodriguez, 8/9
Under-1800: Bruce Mubayiwa, 8/9
Under-1600: Angel Barrios, Rachael Li, Kendrick Gardner, 7.5/9
Under-1400: Daniel Wang, 8/9
Under-1200: Matthew Block, 9/9!
Unrated: Turmunkh Narangerel, 7/9

Standings: https://chessevents.com/2017/07/world-open-2017-standings-open-section/
PGN Games: https://www.thechessdrum.net/games/worldopen2017.pgn

See you next year!

All photos by Daaim Shabazz (unless otherwise stated)


  1. Congrats Abdulmalik and Farai Mandizha!
    After beating a national master in the first round, Mandizha faced a murderer’s row of 7 GMs and went 4.5/7, beating one of the tourney leaders, Ruefing Li, in the process. Then he draws a strong IM in the last game. No rest for the weary!

  2. Photos from the 2017 World Open

    Round is ready to start!

    GM Jeffery Xiong vs. IM Roland Nolte

    Open Section

    IM Farai Mandizha, Adia Onyango, FM Justus Williams

    Julian Proleiko vs. IM Kassa Korley in the final stages

    Canada’s Prince Eric Bopala trying to hold a difficult ending.
    His opponent ultimately took him down.

    National Master Megan Lee wearing her trademark “Sassy” cap
    and her 1000-watt smile

    FM Justus Williams has three IM norms.

    GM Aleksandr Lenderman vs. GM Le Quang Liem, 0-1
    GM Jeffery Xiong vs. IM Farai Mandizha, 1/2

    Daniel X Jones vs. Robert Forney

    WFM Martha Samadashvili playing Derek Zhang

    Bughouse sessions in play!

    Hariharan Sivaji hailing from Tallahassee, Florida

    The diminutive Arthur Guo taking down FM Deepak Aaron

    Apurva Virkud

    Saikhanchimeg Tsogtsaikhan of Mongolia

    GM Lazaro Bruzon of Cuba

    Daaim Shabazz, Shiva Maharaj and Ani Deshpande

    National Master William Aramil

    Jonathan Corbblah taking a cameo shot during the Blitz Tournament

    IM Kassa Korley vs. GM Maxim Dlugy in blitz battle

    This is a beautiful set I saw during the blitz tournament.

    National Master Kela Kaulule of Zambia playing Daniel X Jones.
    Both are part of the Chicago Chess Blitzers group.

    World Open Photos: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.1516764328386935.1073741901.165797893483592&type=1&l=1b457770c2

  3. More Photos from Philadelphia & 2017 World Open

    Steve Immitt singing the national anthem on July 4, 2017

    Adio Onyango with a dignified pose and chess fingernails!

    Precious Acheru of Nigeria

    IM Zhansaya Abdumalik of Kazakhstan

    More bughouse!

    Jon Haskel manning the Monroi table. Yep… they’re still going.

    Zambia’s Kela Kaulule getting prepared for battle

    Mulazlim Muwwaakil of Queens, New York wearing a Brooklyn cap

    Peter Roberts of New York City with Triple Exclam

    A crowd gathers for the finale. All eyes on 17-year old Zhansaya Abdumalik.

    IM Zhansaya Abdumalik held GM Jeffery Xiong to a draw and tied for 2nd. She was signing autographs afterward and posing for photographs. Here she poses with Kela Kaulule.

    World Open Photos: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.1516764328386935.1073741901.165797893483592&type=1&l=1b457770c2

  4. 2017 World Open receives Triple Exclam!

    New York players looking through Triple Exclam during the 2017 World Open.

    As the summer heat is in full swing, many chess players are choosing a variety of ways to stay cool. Sometimes the best way is to stay inside and play chess. The World Open is the largest open tournament in the U.S. routinely drawing 1,000-1,300 players every July 4th holiday weekend. Of course, Philadelphia is an ideal place since it is a festive time of the year. It is this environment that generally will bring out the best in players. It was such the case for IM Emory Tate who notched many memorable victories at the tournament including the six that appear in the book, Triple Exclam!!! The Life and Games of Emory Tate, Chess Warrior.

    “Thanks again for doing such an amazing service to the chess community. This book will be enjoyed for generations to come!”

    ~Dr. Ani Deshpande

    Tate’s biography Triple Exclam has been well-received from the chess public reaching across the land and extending into the Caribbean, South America, Europe and Africa. Tate made a presence in many of these places and of course was an icon in the American chess scene. His melodramatic portrayals of his games were a staple activity in the skittles room. Also his confident swagger and glaring eyes showed a man in search of his next adventure over the board. While Tate missed the last five World Opens before he passed away, his games live on through Triple Exclam.

    Tate showing Kudrin-Tate at 2001 World Open at the Adams Mark Hotel.
    Photo by Daaim Shabazz

    A moment of tranquility at 2006 World Open
    Photo by Daaim Shabazz

    (L-R): Daaim Shabazz, Glenn Umstead, Kamanyala Bior and Emory Tate. Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

    (L-R): Daaim Shabazz, Glenn Umstead, Kamanyala Bior and Emory Tate at 2009 World Open. Photo by Daaim Shabazz

    The book was brought to the iconic tournament where many players were able to purchase a copy. There were many photos taken with the limited edition book and players could be seen going through the games. There are only 50 copies left of the hardback book, but plans are underway for an e-book and possibly a softcover version. The e-book would enjoy global appeal and would avoid the exorbitant postage fees that only the most faithful have paid.

    I would like to take time to thank all of those who have supported the book project and for the kind comments. Even in cases where one book was printed upside-down, everyone has been very patient. Thanks Salvador! Please feel free to write a review at Amazon, The Chess Drum or the media outlet of your choice. Last but not least, thanks to my copy editor Dan Shenk, designer NM Neil Fairclough, proofreader NM Frederick Rhine, Estalita Slivoskey of Potomac Indexing and Dorothy Herbowy of Rose Printing for helping to immortalize Emory in such a way. He was deserving!

    Triple Exclam at the 2017 World Open

    Jerome Works (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)

    Dr. Ani Deshpande (South Bend, Indiana)

    Glenn Umstead (Atlantic City, New Jersey)

    Italy’s Davide Nastasio … “At sushi in Philadelphia! Great book, more publishers should follow your amazing quality level!” Photo courtesy of Davide Nastasio.

    Triple Exclam Photos: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.1484542954942406.1073741899.165797893483592&type=1&l=a8a69cae9a


    The Chess Drum, LLC is a publisher of chess news content and literature. The organization’s website has continued to demonstrate the universality of chess by covering a variety of topics through news stories, essays, interviews, and photos since 2001. Visit The Chess Drum at thechessdrum.net and follow the beat on Facebook and Twitter!

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