2019 U.S. Chess Open (Orlando, Florida)

2019 U.S. Open (Orlando, Florida)

The U.S. Open will hold its 120th edition in the home of the Disney Corporation, Orlando, Florida. This is America’s longest-running tournament and will also be the host for the 80th Delegate’s Meeting. Players and Delegates will be among the many groups conferring at the Rosen Centre Hotel (9840 International Drive), the site of the 2014 U.S. Open. That tournament was won by GM Conrad Holt and since then a new crop of young players has emerged.

During the 2014 U.S. Open, chess players had to share the Rosen Centre with LeakyCon (Harry Potter fan convention), Tuskegee Airmen, and Teen pageant contestants. Perhaps they thought it was cool to be in the same hall with chess players. It should be an interesting mixture of events yet again! Last year’s event was held in Middleton, Wisconsin with blindfold extraordinaire GM Timur Gareyev winning the event. Thus, he qualified for the U.S. Championship and famously affected the championship on the final day.

GM Timur Gareyev, 2018 U.S. Open Champion

The U.S. Open has a different feel from Continental Chess Association (CCA) events in that it is more designed for vacationers and conferees as opposed to professional chess. However, strong players and legendary figures in chess will dot the field as many of them make their annual sojourn. Some even hold records for attending consecutive tournaments.

The business of the U.S. Chess organization will be conducted by the body starting August 7th and end on the 11th. Delegates’ meetings will be on the 10th and the 11th. Concurrently the U.S. Open will have three schedules. Please join us in the “Sunshine State,” visit all the tourist attractions and play some chess! Details here!

U.S. Open Workshops & Committee Meetings

(Click for large image)


  1. Nyzhnyk wins 2019 U.S. Open!

    One thing is for sure… “Nyzhnyk” is not easy to spell and “Illia” is not easy to beat. The Ukrainian national has been in good form lately as he scores another strong result. He was in the running at the Chicago Open in May, but had to settle for joint second with eight other players. The winner of the 2019 National Open in June and the 2018 World Open last July, this is his latest in a string of successes.

    Illia Nyzhnyk receiving Cup from Chief Tournament Director, Anand Dommalapati. Photo by John Hartmann

    In this tournament, he was in the cluster of frontrunners before falling off the pace behind Lazaro Bruzon and Dariusz Swiercz who were 5/5. When the two leaders drew in round six it opened the door and Nyzhnyk got a key win over GM-elect Justin Sarkar. That resulted in a three-way tie for first and a logjam of players in pursuit. GMs Kamil Dragun, Victor Mikhalevski, and Elshan Moradiabadi were a half-point out going into round seven.

    The plot thickened after round seven as Grandmasters Nyzhnyk, Bruzon, Dragun, Swiercz, Mikhalevski, Moradiabadi, Timur Gareyev, Robert Hungaski were in the hunt. International Masters Daniel Fernandez and Bryce Tiglon (Denker Champion) were all on 6/7. One surprise was Emily Nguyen (joint 2nd in Denker) being just 1/2-point out after drawing with Alexander Shabalov (U.S. Senior Champion). In fact, she may have been a bit better in the game.

    Top Boards of Round 7

    The penultimate round would create some separation as Nyzhnyk forged ahead with a win over Fernandez. The Webster student beat the former University of Texas-Dallas in an English.

    Four games ended in draws on the top boards meaning that all eight players were on 6.5 and would be joined by Shabalov, blitz phenom Andrew Tang, and MacKenzie Molner. So Nyzhnyk was in sole possession of first and 11 players (!) would be on 6.5/8. He would face blindfold specialist Gareyev in the final. In other action, U.S. legend James Tarjan got a nice finish mating Khoi Nguyen Le.

    GM James Tarjan
    Photo by Daaim Shabazz

    Top Boards of Round 8

    The final round pairings on the top boards were Gareyev-Nyzhnyk, Bruzon-Tang, Hungaski-Dragun, Shabalov-Swiercz, Mikahalevski-Tiglon and Mordiabadi-Molner.

    Gareyev pondering after Nyzhnyk’s 13…e5!?
    Photo by Daaim Shabazz

    On board one, the game became imbalanced almost immediately after 8…a6 9.axb5 cxb5 10.Nxb5 axb5!? 11.Rxa8. Black had sacrificed an exchange for space and active piece play. White stumbled and got his king stuck in the center with black piece zipping around the board. So after 16.Qxb5? black seized the initiative after 16…Bxd2+ 17.Kxd2 dxe3+ 18.Ke1 Bxg2 (diagram).

    Nyzhnyk’s courageous exchange sacrifice
    gave black strong initiative.

    With the white king standing perilously on e1, black decided to force the issue by advancing 25…h5. That slight deflection of the queen (26.Qd4) allowed black to cut the king even further with 26…Rc8! After 27.Qd5 Qg1+ 28.Kd2 White resigned without waiting for black’s reply. Nyzhnyk had won the tournament!

    Shabalov-Swiercz was one of the most exciting draws as complications were seen right from the start. Even the endgame had its tense moments as the board was wide open and heavy pieces roamed the board. Eventually the game petered out and a draw was agreed on move 70.

    Bruzon-Tang showed an interesting struggle with the Cuban showing his middlegame understanding. After temporarily sacking a pawn for piece activity, had to return the pawn and then donate another. Just when it appeared that black would have enough activity against the exposed white king, Bruzon slammed the door with brilliant defensive maneuver.

    Bryce Tiglon on the move against Victor Mikalevski while
    Elshan Moradiabadi battles Mackenzie Molner.
    Photo by Daaim Shabazz

    Hungaski’s piece sacrifice didn’t yield full compensation and Dragun closed him out on move 40. Mikalevski-Tiglon was drawn closing out a fantastic showing for the the young IM. By virtue of tiebreaks (and US affiliation), he would face Moradiabadi (who also drew) for the spot in the U.S. Championship. In the Armageddon game, Tiglon had the white pieces and opted for an anti-Berlin line and a struggle ensued.

    Top Boards of Round 9

    Grandmaster Elshan Moradiabadi qualified for the 2020 U.S. Championship with his win over IM Bryce Tiglon. Moradiabadi had 7 minutes and 30 seconds on his clock to Tiglon’s 10 minutes for the Armageddon game, but took draw odds in compensation. He won the game outright after a key error by Tiglon.

    By virtue of winning the Armageddon game, Moradiabadi will participate in his first U.S. Championship since changing his federation February 2017. He will join a cadre of strong players which may include another recent immigrant, Leinier Dominguez. Stanford student Bryce Tiglon nearly qualified, but will have to wait a little longer for that chance.

    Final Standings

  2. John Fedorowicz chats with The Chess Drum

    Rosen Centre Hotel (Orlando, Florida)

    John Fedorowicz is a product of the famous “Fischer Boom,” and relishes the opportunity to talk about the good ole days. The Bronx native has played in most every major U.S. tournament, but made his debut in the Senior Tournament of Champions this year. He jokingly said, “I like playing the old guys.”

    GM John Fedorowicz at the 1986 Chess Olympiad in Dubai, UAE
    Photo by Bill Hook

    Before the last round of the 2019 U.S. Open, The Chess Drum was able to sit down with “The Fed” for a chat. In the interview, Fedorowicz was in his usual jovial mood when he recounted a range of topics including his late start in chess, his development in New Jersey chess, his time in Europe and his assessment of today’s chess scene. There were several people watching the captivating interview and “The Fed” was very gracious… even taking a question from a bystander. Absolutely delightful.

    Video by Daaim Shabazz/The Chess Drum

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