The World Open: An experience

by Alexander Ipatov
7/10/2015 – The World Open is one of the oldest and most prestigious tournaments in American history. One reason for GM Alexander Ipatov, World Junior Chess Champion 2012, to visit the USA and take part. He shared first prize with seven other players, won $ 5.000, and made a lot of experiences. Some good, some less pleasant, but all remarkable. Big illustrated report.

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World Open 2015: An experience

It has been 18 months since I played my last open tournament in the United States, and I kind of forgot how it feels to play two rounds per day, waiting for the pairings of the evening round till five minutes before the start of a game, and then scroll down through your opponent’s repertoire in the Mega Database in a super fast mode; or to be forced to bring your own set & clock (or hope that your opponent would bring one!), because none is supplied. The recently finished World Open made me recall all these memories from my brain and even added some new experiences.

The first time in my career I lost sleep and appetite because of drinking too much coffee during a tournament – you needed to keep your concentration up for 9 to 11 hours for a days average. I had thought coffee was a harmless thing, but after this tournament I am not so sure anymore. Right now I think that the players who consider themselves as professionals (which is a minority) should stay away from most of American opens; it is a nice choice for amateurs, though. Let me explain why: in almost all American tournaments GMs get no conditions, and, therefore, start a tournament with a minus. If they win a prize, a fixed $$$ is deducted from it (at the World Open - $200). It is as if a GM pays the entrance fee of $200 to participate in a tournament with a reasonable prize fund.

If a GM doesn’t win a prize, money is not deducted, of course. But the GM then loses on travel expenses, lodging and catering. In my opinion, the only tournament which has the right to require entrance fees from GMs is the Millionaire Open. Because the prize fund is really decent there, so I can understand and accept that business model.

Other drawbacks are the following ones: there is no time to prepare for the games, necessity to bring your own set & clock to each game, plus to be forced to pay a %30 tax in case of a won prize. Do not think, that I condemn all tournaments in the US! Not true. It was a very nice experience for me to play in the Bay Area International (in my opinion, the best organized American chess open  – thanks, Arun!), Michigan Chess Festival (thanks, Alan!), Spice Cup (thanks, Susan!). Grandmasters get invited and there is no need to bring your own chess equipment. The Millionaire Open is another interesting tournament to consider.

Some remarkable moments from the tournament:






Alexander Ipatov



Anyways, I think it was worth taking part in the World Open this year, because it is a lifetime experience to feel the spirit of one of the oldest and most prestigious chess opens in American history. Eight players tied for 1st place and since the prize money is equally shared in American chess tournaments, everyone who ended up on +5 should feel happy with the result.

Host of the tournament

But where's the tournament?

This way please!

It's close!



Almost there...

Finally some known face! To the right tournament winner Alexander Lenderman...

Luke McShane

Ilya Smirin

Artur Jussupov

Boris Avrukh

Romain Eduard

Irina Krush

Kayden Troff

...and Alejandro Ramirez, here with Varuzhan Akobian

Final result Open

# Name Rtng Tot TB1
1 GM Alex Lenderman 2623 7.0 43.5
2 GM Rauf Mamedov 2639 7.0 46.5
3 GM Ilya Smirin 2663 7.0 41.5
4 GM Alexander Ipatov 2615 7.0 41.5
5 GM Ehsan Ghaem Maghami 2570 7.0 41
6 GM Illia Nyzhnyk 2627 7.0 39.5
7 GM Romain Edouard 2639 7.0 37
8 GM Axel Bachmann 2633 7.0 36
9 GM Varuzhan Akobian 2632 6.5 43
10 GM Anton Kovalyov 2613 6.5 43
11 GM Gata Kamsky 2672 6.5 42.5
12 GM Luke McShane 2685 6.5 39
13 GM Sergei Azarov 2618 6.5 39
14 GM Krikor Mekhitarian 2589 6.5 39
15 John Michael Burke 2258 6.5 38
1st U2300
16 GM Felipe El Debs 2515 6.5 37
17 GM Sergey Erenburg 2585 6.5 29.5
18 GM Alejandro Ramirez 2587 6.0 42.5    
19 IM Andrey Gorovets 2505 6.0 42.5    
20 GM Jianchao Zhou 2601 6.0 42    
21 GM Alexander Stripunsky 2561 6.0 41    
22 IM Ashwin Jayaram 2492 6.0 40    
23 IM John Daniel Bryant 2388 6.0 40
1st-5th 2300-2449
24 GM Boris Avrukh 2605 6.0 39    
25 IM Luke C Harmon-Vellotti 2430 6.0 38.5
1st-5th 2300-2449
26 GM Magesh C Panchanathan 2541 6.0 38    
27 GM Leonid G Yudasin 2510 6.0 37    
28 GM Alonso Zapata 2443 6.0 37
1st-5th 2300-2449
29 IM Kassa Korley 2430 6.0 36.5
1st-5th 2300-2449
30 IM David Vigorito 2415 6.0 36.5
1st-5th 2300-2449
31 GM Kayden Troff 2545 6.0 36    
32 GM Irina Krush 2477 6.0 34    
33 Raven M Sturt 2259 6.0 34
2nd U2300
34 FM Nicolas De T. Checa 2346 6.0 33
1st-5th 2300-2449

... 211 players

Before the tournament my best friend and I spent one week in New York City. We visited a bunch of museums, made it to the top of some famous skyscrapers, and in general covered most of the local worth-to-go places.

New York

Scenic view

But no clear sky

Manhattan - with the new One World Trade Center

South of it Liberty Island with the statue of liberty

Ferries bring lots of visitors

The statue of liberty, designed by Frédéric-Auguste Bartholdi geschaffen, 1886 fertig gestellt, 93 Meter hoch-Auguste Bartholdi geschaffen, 1886 fertig gestellt, 93 Meter hoch-Auguste Bartholdi geschaffen, 1886 fertig gestellt, 93 Meter hochmetres high

The UNO building

New York, New York

USS Intrepid

The USS Intrepid, built in 1941 it was used in WW II and during the war in Vietnam but now serves as a museum.

Alexander Ipatov


American Museum of National History

The Willamette meteorite, found in 1902

Good to know that this animal is no longer a threat....


Lots of police in Washington, on wheels...

... and on horses.

And with dogs 

Government area, NationalMallMall

The place where the president lives and works.

Washington Monument


Lincoln Memorial

The Eisenhower Executive Office Building is part of the White House


The games are being broadcast live on the official web site and on the chess server If you are not a member you can download a free Playchess client and get immediate access. You can also use ChessBase 12 or any of our Fritz compatible chess programs.

Grandmaster, World Junior Champion in 2012, born in Ukraine and playing for Turkey.
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speedweb speedweb 7/16/2015 06:35
I'm chess organizer from Malaysia.In Malaysia we provided set and chess clock.
genem genem 7/12/2015 08:19
I have no problem bringing my chess set and clock to my assigned seat for the next round of the tournament; except that...
...It is unfortunate that I have to bring my chess set for rounds where we end up using my opponent's set.

In such cases one of us is lugging our set around for no good reason. Worse, my feet have to content for space with my chess bag during the long game. And I have to worry about my bag being stolen when I take a bathroom break.

Whether the reasons are good or bad, surmountable or not, it is unfortunate when the pairings for any given round are not posted hours before it starts.

Maybe the convention that the Black player's equipment be used is suboptimal, because that criterion makes it impossible to know whose equipment will be used after the pairings are finalized (typically only 20 minutes before the round starts).
I dunno, maybe another criterion could be devised?
Steve Higgins Steve Higgins 7/12/2015 12:33
Regarding the tax comment, whether or not a foreign player has a US tax ID isn't relevant to my question. What I'm asking is, if you play a tournament in Europe, Asia or anywhere else, doesn't the country you play in levy a tax on your winnings, same as in the United States? If so the writer's complaint is unjustified. If not I may begin thinking about moving to one of these magical "non-taxing" countries! Regarding his being forced to bring his own chess set, if this guy thinks this is an actual burden then I must assume he has never faced a real problem in his young life.
hpaul hpaul 7/12/2015 12:16
The Boss: "... like asking a professional Tennis player to bring his own balls. Terrible."
Actually, it's like asking professional tennis players to bring their own racquets, golfers to bring their clubs, shooters to bring their guns and sailors to bring their boats. You may not have noticed, but they do.
No American complains about bringing their clock and set to a tournament, it's taken for granted. Many large tournaments, though, furnish equipment for the top boards. I agree that this should be made the standard.
Acerook Acerook 7/11/2015 11:49
@Mike Regan -

There's a huge difference organizing a tournament for 1000+ players and a tournament for less than 90 players.
The Boss The Boss 7/11/2015 02:19
Dear lord Mr. Ipatov is right. It's honestly malarkey to ask chess players to bring chess sets with them. Do you know how much those sets cost? How much they weigh? It's just too big of a burden. Asking a professional chess player to bring their own set is like asking a professional Tennis player to bring his own balls. Terrible.
Michael W Regan Michael W Regan 7/11/2015 01:03
There are other US open events that have better conditions than the World Open. The Washington International provides all equipment, pairs the next round ASAP, provides conditions for non-US GMs and IMs, breakfasts, and does not subtract anything from prizes. We do have to withhold money, but that's an IRS rule one can't avoid. This year's runs from August 8-13 and we're always looking for non-US GMs and IMs.
Mike Regan
Washington International Organizer
slickfish slickfish 7/10/2015 11:01
I don't believe it's a tax, simply US revenue service rules on withholding, if the recipient doesn't have a US social security or taxpayer ID number, which a non-resident foreign player would typically not. They can file a form for the tax year, to essentially get all or some of that withholding back.
Steve Higgins Steve Higgins 7/10/2015 09:48
The writer implies that other countries either do not tax chess winnings or tax such prizes at a lower rate than does the United States. Can anyone shed light on this, as it's difficult to believe.
slickfish slickfish 7/10/2015 08:04
GM Ipatov is correct that such opens are not ideal for professional GMs. But that does not mean the World Open is a bad tournament! It is indeed bootstrapped by the entry fees of a loyal cadre of chess enthusiasts, who enjoy briefly putting aside their regular jobs and lives, to get an intense holiday weekend fix of playing the game they love. The good news for GMs is that those amateurs are ok with some of their entry fees being used to fund bigger prizes in the open section. But that largess has its limits. They play primarily for their own enjoyment.

Of course we all want the US to have more chess patrons and sponsors. But other than Rex Sinquefield in St Louis, and the top tier collegiate programs (SPICE/Webster, UT Dallas, Texas Tech, UMBC & UT Brownsville), there is little interest from businesses or cultural entities in spending money on elite chess events in the US.
david gonzalez david gonzalez 7/10/2015 07:28
Large American opens are an absolute disgrace,that is a fact.
dhochee dhochee 7/10/2015 06:17
So the author had a take-home of nearly $4000 for a few days of hard work even though he tied with seven other players, and yet he still suggests that GM's should avoid these tournaments? I understand preferring to know an opponent's repertoire in advance, but it's a level playing field when nobody knows. And I can't imagine the requirement to bring a set and clock is really such a hardship for someone who makes a living at chess. That's what the other 95% of players have always done. Large open events have greatly contributed to the popularity of chess, and the conditions the author dislikes are inherent due to the structure. (I have been to opens where sets were provided for all, but they are inevitably cheap plastic ones; is that really better?)

Fortunately, regardless of Ipatov's belly-aching, large open events will continue to be popular and draw decent numbers of strong players.
alpine alpine 7/10/2015 06:01
The observations about American Opens are valid (and I'm a USA arbiter / tournament director!). The thin skinned among us would call it criticism. A systemic lack of sponsors, funds, and continuity have contributed to the USA's bootstrapped chess culture in large tournaments. There are pockets of sponsors and continuity (clubs and championship authorities), but by-and-large there is no country-wide effort that sustains large opens in the way GM Ipatov describes.
jasgon jasgon 7/10/2015 03:50
Non-GMs usually have full time jobs with reasonably good wages. I am not sure you can say that of GMs, most of whom, I would imagine, depend on chess for a living. I am not sure Ipatov's intention was to make a case for GMs not paying entrance fees in this article, but if he did, I would completely agree with this. I think it is fair, and, as I see it, it certainly also adds prestige to the tournament.
Exclam Exclam 7/10/2015 03:17
I am not sure I could disagree more with your comment that GM's shouldn't have to pay an entrance fee. They are more likely to win the prize money than someone rated 1900 and simply because they have earned the title doesn't guarantee a greater turn out by non-titled players. I will play a tournament because I want to play not because I might have the opportunity to face off with a GM or any other titled players. When they have to pay their entrance fee there is also more pressure to recover your costs to enter. Their travel expenses aren't any different than anyone else's who isn't titled but their chance of winning prize money is significantly higher than the untitled player. All you really do is make it more lucrative for a GM to play making his likely profit margin higher. If you charged them all entrance fees they would actually generate higher prize funds for them to compete for. Those who don't show because they aren't getting a free ride need to check their ego at the door.