2018 World Open (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)

The 46th edition of the World Open is currently taking place in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania the iconic home of the tournament. While the final count is unknown, the tournament typically draws about 1300 competitors from around the country and world.

Philly’s newly-unveiled emancipation exhibit

Some interesting new sites around Philadelphia. The Uber driver pointed out the new Comcast 58-story building, the latest fixture of the skyline. There is also an interesting sculpture depicting the 15th amendment by City Hall. Of course the tournament site is conveniently located next to the Reading Terminal Market, a bustling place of activity with a potpourri of cuisines. There is even a artistic chess scultpure behind the Marriott, the tournament’s playing site.

GM Jeffery Xiong at 2018 World Open
Photo by Daaim Shabazz

This year the 4th of July affect on the tournament was muted since the holiday was in the middle of the week and the celebrations were over by the time most players arrived in Philly. To use the worn cliche, they would hope to bring fireworks to the board.

While some of the mainstays were absent, the headliners include GMs Le Quang Liem (2728), Dariusz Swiercz (2663), Alexander Ipatov (2650) Lazaro Bruzon (2646), and the highest-rated U.S. player, Jeffery Xiong (2655). So far junior player Max Jiahua Li (1788) sits on 3/3 after beating two IMs! The three-day event will start on today and the sections will merge tomorrow. The Chess Drum is on site and will be featuring photos and perhaps a few interviews. Stay tuned!

Results: https://chessevents.com/worldopen/
Live Games: https://chessevents.com/live-games/

Daaim Shabazz

Daaim Shabazz is the founder of The Chess Drum, while serving as a tenured faculty member of Global Business & Marketing at Florida A&M University in Tallahassee, Florida, USA. He holds a B.S. Computer Science from Chicago State University, an MBA in Marketing and a Ph.D. in International Affairs & Development, both from Clark Atlanta University. He has served the journalist community for more than 30 years and still competes in tournaments occasionally.

9 Comments

  1. Always precise information. Always awesome photos. Really appreciate your dedication. Keep up the good work my friend. Thanks

  2. Nyzhnyk triumphs at 2018 World Open

    More than 1,000 players and a few hundred spectators came to the Downtown Marriott in Philadelphia to compete in the 46th World Open. As much as journalists struggle with correctly writing the name of “Illya Nyzhnyk,” they will have plenty of practice after his topping the field at the 2018 World Open.

    The recent Webster graduate rebounded from a lackluster Chicago Open to win the tournament after key wins over Samuel Sevian and former teammate Le Quang Liem. He wrapped up the tournament with a quick draw with his friend Alex Shimanov.

    Le-Nyzhnyk battling in the penultimate round. Dariusz Swiercz and Alex Lenderman drew. Photo by Daaim Shabazz

    Nyzhnyk’s game against Le was a fortuitous turn of events. After dominating throughout the game, the Vietnamese player blundered at a critical stage. Nyzhnyk told Jamaal Abdul-Alim about the turning point after Le’s 84.g4?? “As he was about to finish me off, he made a terrible blunder and lost the game in one move,” said Nyzhnyk. One of the players at the World Open had a t-shirt with the message on the back… “The harder you work, the luckier you get.” Certainly, one can argue that there is no luck in chess, but its sheer intensity create such opportunities to capitalize off of human error.

    After Nyzhnyk’s quick draw in the last round, the attention went to the game between Cuba’s Lazaro Bruzon and Sevian.

    Lazaro Bruzon trying to win his way into a tiebreaker against Sevian.
    Photo by Daaim Shabazz

    The Marshall Gambit followed theory and the game was quickly drawn in 20 moves. After that Nyzhnyk could breath a sigh of relief and there would be no tiebreaks. The Ukrainian national finished with an impressive 7.5/9. The runner-ups were Shimanov, Lenerman, Tigran Petrosian and Liem finishing on 7/9 ($4700). GM Irina Krush would win joint 1st (2300-2449) with IM Joshua Sheng scoring 6.5/9. IM norms were achieved by FMs Brandon Jacobson, Levy Rozman and Justin Wang.

    In the under-2200 section, the battle came down to the top two boards. Actually Marc Dicostanzo and Davis Zong played in another location. Dicostanzo won leaving the remaining two games to determine if it would be clear or joint 1st. Kanan Hajiyev was anchored on the top boards with five consecutive wins before losing to Abhimanyu Banerjee.

    Hajiyev started another streak before ending up on board two against Ernesto Malazarte. This was a very positional grind, but Malazarte told The Chess Drum that he made an uncharacteristic blunder of a piece. Fortunately he had maintained pressure on a pinned knight. In fact, white was left to shuffling pieces around. When black finally won the piece he had an overwhelming advantage and finished him nicely.

    A crowd assembles at the top boards of the under-2200 section with Kanan Hajiyev-Ernesto Malazarte (0-1) and Kireet Panugant-Roderick Scarlett (0-1). Photo by Daaim Shabazz

    Panugant-Scarlett ended in a flurry.

    Scarlett was the beneficiary of the “reenter” option. He played in the five-day, but scored one point out of the first three rounds and decided to pay another registration fee and play in the three-day. This necessitated that he play five rounds in G/35 on Friday. Brutal.

    In the end, it worked out. His wife Pauline was on hand to witness his feat and mentioned how proud she was of him. With five children, the winnings will go a long way.

    Scarlett with his copy of “Triple Exclam.” He was able to play a couple of queen sacrifices in the tournament so the book was an appropriate gift.

    New York was well-represented. From left to right: Pauline and Roderick Scarlett, James Jeffery, Alex Assivero, Stephen Colding, Justin Dalhouse

    In the under-2000 section, Oliver Lombardi came out of a five-year hiatus to win with a stunning 8.5/9 score. As a result, he goes from a rating of 1890 to 2082! His last tournament was a lackluster performance at the 2013 World Open in Arlington, Virginia. He certainly had the tournament of his life and earned $12,000 first prize.

    Open: Illya Nyzhnyk, 7.5/9
    Under-2200: Marc Dicostanzo, Ernesto Malazarte, 8/9
    Under-2000: Oliver Lombardi, 8.5/9
    Under-1800: Gavriel Genger, Nick Groh, Sina Jahandari, Aaron Caveny, 7.5/9
    Under-1600: Stephanie Gu, 8/9
    Under-1400: John Flynn, 8/9
    Under-1200: Avtandil Chanadiri, 8/9
    Under-900: Seth Kessler, 8.5/9
    Unrated: James G Mccarron, 8.5/9

    Results: https://chessevents.com/worldopen/
    PGN Games: https://www.thechessdrum.net/games/worldopen2018.pgn

  3. African Diaspora @ ’18 World Open

    The World Open is a marquee tournament drawing over 1000 players each year. Many things have changed over the past 20 years. Of course, the venue has changed and the Adams Mark Hotel has been long gone. The iconic 23-story building was demolished in 2006 and the property now hosts a Target department store.

    Kishan Clarke (Jamaica)

    The demographics of the World Open have also changed. With the arrival of online chess and the employment of databases, chess has successfully matched the ancient game with technology and young “digital natives” could represent up to 30-50% of any major tournament. It is also very apparent that youth of Asian ancestry have dominated tournament halls for the past decades. Chess has become more “multicultural” attracting people of every conceivable demographic.

    The World Open can be a magical tournament because of the prize fund, but also because it attracts many rising stars and international players. It is also the place where many players of African descent have traditionally come in relatively larger numbers. Several players from Nigeria were present this year, but not the scene five years ago when a dozen players flew in from Africa’s most populous nation. Other nations are represented and this year as Kishan Clarke held the Jamaican banner. He is the under-10 national champion and scored 5/9 in under-1600.

    NM Stephen Colding

    What is clear is that we are in a transition and many of the Black masters of the 80s have either reduced their activity, retired or passed away. IM Kassa Korley is most likely preparing to travel overseas after earning his first GM norm. Life Master Stephen Colding is the veteran who doubles as a player and coach/mentor during tournaments. He is often seen giving encouragement to young players.

    One of the players who benefited from such mentorship was FM Josh Colas. Managed by his father Guy Colas, he is one of the young stars with Grandmaster ambitions. He ended his tournament on 6/9 toppling GM Thal Abergel of France in the last round. He is currently going into his junior year at Webster and is looking to complete the requirements for his IM title soon.

    FM Justus Williams was missing from the event, but is poised to round back into form. Another talented young player missing was Tyrone Davis III, one of the young masters who showed promise at the 2016 World Open. Since then he has primarily played in local tournaments in the New York area.

    FM Josh Colas

    GM John Burke and IM Farai Mandizha analyzing
    with Philly’s Robert Gist kibitzing.

    Roderick Scarlett turning the screws on Jeremiah White’s position.
    Photos by Daaim Shabazz

    IM Farai Mandizha of Zimbabwe has been a consistent presence in top U.S. tournaments for the past 10 years. He is actively seeking opportunities for his last GM norm. Other masters like Kola Adeyemi and Tyrell Harriott are New Yorkers with Nigerian and Jamaica ancestry respectively. Majur Juac, originally from the Sudan, keeps an active schedule in the New York area and is a positive presence as a coach in the New York area.

    Adia Onyango

    Adia Onyango is a mainstay in the major tournaments and is the one of the few African-American women playing with any consistency. She also makes valuable contributions as an organizer, coach while running the popular “Chess Connections” Facebook group. Kimani Stancil has always been up to the challenge of tough competition and is a regular in the Open Section. William Del Castilho of Ecuador is another player living in the New York area, so the African Diaspora is well-represented. The numbers are much larger in the under-2200/under-2000 sections. Roderick Scarlett, of Jamaican ancestry, scored 7/9 winning 3rd in under-2200.

    I am often asked why there are not more players of African descent in tournament play. There are many reasons and I have written on this extensively, but be that as it may, there is work to be done. Even the World Open’s blitz scene is not as fierce as it once was. Many players have decided to forgo the Philly trip because the skittles room at the Marriott has a lot more restrictions than the old Adams Mark. Those scenes were electric and will be remembered for the ages.

    New York crew was well-represented. In the foreground, Anthony Bennett (with West 4th St. cap) analyzing with Rafael Calderon with Benedict Odafe watching. Tyrell Harriott was playing blitz and Baltimore’s Kimani Stancil and Jeremiah Smith looking on. Photo by Daaim Shabazz

    Recently, the Kentucky governor lamented that we wouldn’t expect to see chess played at an inner-city school where Blacks were attending. Of course this is based on stereotypes that chess has no market in the Black community, but of course we can point to a wealth of history saying otherwise. The problem is much of this history is not reported except on this site and in social media. Let it be known that the African Diaspora made a presence at the 2018 World Open! Below are some of the shots taken.

    2018 World Open
    CLICK to see larger images. Hover to get descriptions.



    James Jeffery with Triple Exclam!

    Drs. Kimani Stancil and Daaim Shabazz

  4. The sculpture with the Black man hands out reach is Octavius Catto. The city first sculpture, public, of an African American. Philly”s current mayor Jim Kennedy wanted to make a wrong right by honoring this brave man. Catto, an educator, national spokesman, activist and civil rights leader was killed when he was fighting for the rights of Blacks to vote. He was a very interesting person. Worth looking into the history of this activist.

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