Live 8 and chess in Philadelphia

by ChessBase
7/6/2005 – The World Open is a Philadelphia fixture each year during the week that includes July 4, Independence Day in the USA. This year it shared the spotlight with Live 8, but that didn’t deter 1025 chess players, from US Champion Hikaru Nakamura all the way down to rank beginners, from turning up and having a grand chess time. Pictures and impressions.

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The 33rd Annual World Open

This event was staged in the Wyndham Philadelphia Hotel at Franklin Plaza in Philadelphia PA. The guaranteed prize fund was $180,000. The official web site reports that two players tied for first: GM Kamil Miton and Indian-born Magesh Panchanathan.

The winner of the World Open: Polish GM Kamil Miton

Both finished with 7.5 points. Since Miton had the higher tiebreak, he could choose colours for the tiebreak blitz game. Miton elected to have five minutes and the White pieces against Panchanathan's seven minutes with the Black pieces. Kamil Miton won the playoff and is the 2005 World Open Champion.

Magesh Panchanathan [Photo Phillip R Smith]

A word about Panchanathan Magesh Chandran from Madurai, India. He is a student at Texas University, and has become India's 12th Grandmaster by tying for first in this event. Having scored 7.5 points from nine rounds in the 204-player event, Magesh obtained his third and final GM norm. He had achieved his first GM norm by winning the Asian junior championship in Sri Lanka in 2003, and completed his second norm at Bar in Serbia in March this year. Magesh is 21 years old.

The official web site has a lot of good portraits of players by Phillip Smith, meticulously captioned, the way it should always be. The web site announces that games from the World Open "will eventually start appearing" on the home page.

With the exception of the picture of Panchanathan above, all images on this page are by Susan Grumer, who lives in Philadelphia and visited the event. Susan also sent us the following report and got Ken Muir to provide us with his impressions.

The World Open is a major tournament in the US. It has been ably organized by Bill Goichberg since the days when dinosaurs first learned to play chess (1973). Its home for many years used to be the Adams Mark Hotel in the outskirts of Philadelphia, but the property was sold and the hotel closed. Bill was probably psychic and knew in advance that Live 8 was going to take place just a few blocks away when he chose the Wyndham Philadelphia as this year’s site.

The spiritus rector of the World Open: Bill Goichberg

Philadelphia is a city full of culture (undoubtedly the best symphony orchestra in the world) and statues everywhere.

One of the most famous statues is at the entrance to a hotel

The "Love Statue" in Philly

The clothespin, in front of the train station, is a landmark that every Philadelphian knows. Note the chess players in the picture above.

Impressions of a World Open

By Ken Muir

They say at the Franklin Institute that Benjamin Franklin was an excellent chess player, and so Philadelphia was the perfect place to spend a week leading up to July 4th getting some outstanding chess play at the World Open and immersing our children in the meaning and origins of the American Revolution. I had sensed months ago that this would be the fitting culmination of three years of involvement in chess study and scholastic tournaments, and likely the last time my 12-year-old son and I could both play together in an U1200 division. Certainly we would not be able to do this again, given the looming prospect of college years ahead. And so it was that the four of us hopped on a plane in sunny Corpus Christi, Texas, loaded with baggage, chess sets, books and an ample supply of chess fever.

Surprisingly, my opponent in Round 1 played the exact game we had just gone over at lunch in the airport, the French Open. I countered with the King’s Indian attack, and our first five moves were identical to those from Susan Polgar’s Opening Secrets article in the November 2004 Chess Life. Predictably, however, after I made a bad choice with 6.e5 rather than fianchettoing my bishop and castling, I did not fare nearly as well as Bobby Fischer in Ms. Polgar’s two instructive games.

Ildar Ibragimov

Bill Hook, one of the oldest players. He has played for the
British Virgin Islands at most Olympiads since about 1966.

The tournament began sedately, but with the addition of the 3 and 5 day schedules it quickly mushroomed into a thriving hustle-bustle of chess excitement. We encountered chess players everywhere, at nearby restaurants, the Walgreen’s drugstore down the street, and even downtown at Independence Hall. The front doorman at the Wyndham, Leonard, offered to give me a game after his night shift ended, and someone mentioned a local pro football lineman had stopped by to play a couple of games.

FM Alex Lenderman, 15, from New York, scored a remarkable 6/9 (3 wins, no losses).

IM Pascal Charbonneau

Sundararajan Kidambi, one of the Indian players

Varuzhan Akobian

There was no doubt that, for Class E players like ourselves, we had landed in Chess Nirvana. Yesterday afternoon, my son and I wandered over to the Open Section at Board 1 and joined the throng of hushed onlookers. I watched as Irina Krush sat in a chic black leather jacket across from Hikaru Nakamura, her eyes darting intently about the board as they analysed their drawn game. Later that evening, in the elevator headed down to our fourth game, Nakamura stepped in with us, and as it filled up a gentleman joked about trying not to step on Nakamura’s toes. Nakamura chuckled good naturedly at that, and several riders wish him well as he stepped off.

Hikaru Nakamura

Hikaru from behind, in his Maui T-shirt

Early in the morning from our windows on the 22nd floor, I could see throngs of people streaming down the Benjamin Franklin Parkway towards the Philadelphia Museum of Art, reminding me of a scene from Invasion of the Body Snatchers. “Look,” I told my son, “at all those people heading up the street. Maybe they’ve been brainwashed by some alien invaders, or they’re being drawn by some kind of strange, unseen mental force.” After breakfast the four of us joined the crowds heading towards the Live 8 concert, walking as far as we could, enjoying the throbbing music and the hub-bub of humanity. It was wonderful, but not kid-friendly. The unseen yet powerful mental chess forces which had brought us to the World Open reeled us inexorably back to the hotel.


As I write this, Giorgi Kacheishvili has just stepped away from his board to watch Christiansen’s game with Ibragimov at Board 2. We are two hours away from the thrill of our fifth round. My son is excited, having won 3½ out of 4, and I’m content with 2-2. But this is about proudly watching my son slowly become a man as he learns to use his mind in a calculating, logical manner; about inspiring my daughter; about teaching my children sportsmanship and how to carry on after the agony of defeat. It’s about creating memories and being part of history in the making. And finally, this is about freedom, the thrill of a long, hard fought battle, and the discovery that this spirit of the American Revolution does indeed continue to reverberate, vibrant as ever.

Live 8 in Philadelphia

Live 8, last Saturday's musical extravaganza, was staged in nine venues: Tokyo, Moscow, Rome, Johannesburg, Berlin, Paris, London, Philadelphia and Barrie (Ontario). It was organized by Bob Geldof and was intended to raise awareness of the poverty faced by many African nations, in time for the Group of Eight annual summit on Wednesday in Scotland.

The event was conducted in the style of Geldof's 1985 Live Aid concerts, which raised $200 million for famine victims in Africa. These concerts reach many billions of people, live, via television and on the Internet ( continues to offer streamed versions of many of the performances).

The Schuylkill Expressway in Philadelphia

Crowds gathering in the park in Philadelphia

At the Rodin museum (with the famous "Thinker" statue by the French sculptor)

Police on patrol all over the city, on foot...

...on horseback...

...and, would you believe it, even on bicycles!

The Live 8 concert crowd

Concert loudspeakers mounted on a crane

There were lots of first aid stations around the concert areas – and fire-trucks with hoses sprinkling, so people could go under and cool down

The Philadelphia part of Live 8 was hosted by Will Smith at the city's Museum Of Art. Smith urged the crowd to snap their fingers every three seconds – to represent the death of a child in Africa. Other stars that appeared in Philadelphia were Sir Bob Geldof, Bono, George Clooney, Coldplay, Brad Pitt, Gwen Stefani, Kylie Minogue and Mos Def. Together with them the crowd held their hands aloft to click their fingers every three seconds, moving many to tears in the process. The aim is to promote, an organisation set up to promote the idea of wiping out world debt.

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