Hovhannes Gabuzyan grabs North American Open

by Ruifeng Li
1/5/2020 – Close to a hundred chess players spent the last days of 2019 participating in the 29th edition of the North American Open at the Bally's Casino Resort in Las Vegas. Hovhannes Gabuzyan and Zviad Izoria finished atop the standings on 7 out of 9 — Gabuzyan took home the bonus prize money reserved for the winner, as he had a higher score in the second tiebreak criterion. GM RUIFENG LI sent us a report with expert analyses and a selection of noteworthy games. | Photos: Crystal Jiuzhou Gu

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End of year in Vegas

The 29th Annual North American Open was held at Bally’s Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, from December 26th to 30th. GMs Zviad Izoria and Hovhannes Gabuzyan topped the Open Section, with final scores of 7/9. The latter got the title and the $200 bonus for first place thanks to his superior score in the second tiebreak criterion — the co-leaders drew both on points and on the first tiebreaker score.

Gabuzyan is a 24-year-old Armenian grandmaster, who is currently the 15th highest-rated player in his country. Born in Yerevan, he won the Armenian National Championship in 2017, a ten-player single round robin that had Robert Hovhannisyan, Zaven Andriasian and Arman Pashikian in the line-up.

Hovhannes Gabuzyan

Getting in the zone — Hovhannes Gabuzyan | Photo: Crystal Jiuzhou Gu

Before the eventual winners rose through the ranks, it was GM Nikola Mitkov who snatched a one-point lead after soundly defeating the top seed. 


Meanwhile, Izoria faced tough and creative resistance in the form of IM Dionisio Aldama, whose three connected passed pawns offered interesting compensation for a whole rook deficit.


In round seven, Mitkov decided to go for the gold with an attack on Izoria’s king; but it backfired severely, and his own king ended up in mortal danger...


Zviad Izoria, Hovhannes Gabuzyan

Zviad Izoria drew the eventual champion in the last round | Photo: Crystal Jiuzhou Gu

The adventures of Nikola Mitkov continued in round eight, when GM Mark Paragua nonchalantly sacrificed a piece for a decisive long-term initiative. Mitkov redeemed his tournament life in the final round, crushing IM Richard Wang’s Sicilian. Meanwhile, Paragua was half a point behind Izoria and Gabuzyan, but was unable to make headway against the undefeated and newly-minted GM Joshua Ruiz. A safe draw between Izoria and Gabuzyan sealed the standings at the top.

Mark Paragua, Balaji Daggupati

Mark Paragua finished in third place — here playing Black against Balaji Daggupati | Photo: Crystal Jiuzhou Gu 

Other highlights from the event


You can select any game from the list!

Final standings (top 20)

# Name Rtng Country Tot Prize Amount
1 GM Hovhannes Gabuzyan 2610 ARM 7.0 1st-2nd/Bonus $7700.00
2 GM Zviad Izoria 2599 USA 7.0 1st-2nd $7500.00
3 GM Mark Paragua 2513 PHI 6.5 3rd-7th $1220.00
4 GM Nikola Mitkov 2508 MKD 6.5 3rd-7th $1220.00
5 IM Hans Niemann 2471 USA 6.5 3rd-7th $1220.00
6 IM John Daniel Bryant 2422 USA 6.5 3rd-7th $1220.00
7 IM Alexander Ross Katz 2404 USA 6.5 3rd-7th $1220.00
8 FM Ian Zhao 2320 CAN 6.5 1st U2400 $2400.00
9 GM Joshua D Ruiz C 2497 COL 6.0 8th-10th/Other $416.67
10 IM Florin Felecan 2336 USA 6.0 8th-10th/2nd U2400 $416.67
11 FM Jason Wang 2317 USA 6.0 8th-10th/2nd U2400 $416.67
12 FM Spencer George Lehmann 2236 USA 6.0 8th-10th/2nd U2400 $416.67
13 Logan Wu 2155 USA 6.0 8th-10th/2nd U2400 $416.67
14 Davaaoch Nyamdorj 2110 CAN 6.0 8th-10th/2nd U2400 $416.67
15 FM Mirai Aoshima 2361 JPN 5.5    
16 IM Richard Wang 2342 CAN 5.5    
17 GM Pavel Blatny 2331 CZE 5.5    
18 FM Shunkai Peng 2315 USA 5.5    
19 Jason Liang 2296 USA 5.5    
20 FM Todd D Andrews 2214 USA 5.5    

...91 players


Ruifeng is one of the top junior players in the world. He received his IM title in 2016 and the GM title in 2017. 2016 was one of the best years in his chess career. He won the North American Junior Championship, National Open, and Philadelphia Open, also tied for first at 26th Annual North American Open.


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