Nyzhnyk nails it

by Ruifeng Li
7/13/2018 – At the annual World Open in Philadelphia, 21-year-old, Webster University student Illya Nyzhnyk from Ukraine scored one of the biggest wins of his young career, by taking clear first and the USD $20,500 first prize with an impressive tally of 7½ from 9 games in a field of 32 GMs and 24 IMs. Among the GMs was RUIFENG LI, who filed this report with games and photos from the massive 1,223 player open (over nine sections).

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World Open 2018

Organized by the Continental Chess Association, the Philadelphia World Open began on July 4th, to sounds of fireworks and… a singing arbiter? I can’t say for sure, having been late to the first round, but Steve Emmitt is known, among other things, for warbling the national anthem tolerably well.

Steve Emmitt

Steve Emmitt directs | Photo: Daaim Shabazz

As per tradition, the main event was a nine-round, five-day Swiss in the Downtown Marriott, with a time control of 40 moves in 2 hours, then sudden death 30 minutes plus a 10-second delay from move one. This 46th edition, like the previous, produced a clear winner: Ukrainian GM Illya Nyzhnyk, who is a senior at Webster University in St. Louis.

Le vs Swiercz

Back: Nyzhnyk vs. Sevian; fore: Liem (and a banana) vs. Swiercz | Photo: Ruifeng Li

Vietnamese superstar Le Quang Liem (also a Webster alumnus) was the tournament’s rating favorite, with a stratospheric 2728 Elo, but this year featured a remarkable list of young 2600+ GMs who snapped at his heels. Among them were Jeffery Xiong, Anton Kovalyov, Alex Shimanov, Alex Lenderman, Alex Ipatov, Varuzhan Akobian, Lazaro Bruzon, Darius Swiercz, Emilio Cordova, Samuel Sevian, Nyzhnyk, and last year’s victor Tigran L. Petrosian.

Le vs Nyzhnyk

Le (and banana) vs. Nyzhnyk | Photo: Ruifeng Li

The critical rounds proved to be seven and eight, as Nyzhnyk notched up two difficult points against Sevian and Le for a total of 7.0 / 8. Shimanov and Bruzon also won in those rounds and thus trailed by merely half a point, but in the final round, the former drew with Nyzhnyk and the latter with Sevian, enabling the Ukrainian to obtain a well-deserved clear first and USD $20,500. Shimanov, Bruzon, Lenderman, and Petrosian tied for 2nd-5th places.

Annotations by GM Ruifeng Li
 

Click or tap a game in the list to switch games

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Thereafter followed a blitz tournament, where GM Jeffrey Xiong duly zipped the field 10-0. That was probably decent consolation for his making five draws in a row in the main event and scoring six points in total, as I did. On the other hand, I can only show off a few nice moves and philosophize that there’s always next year.

Lenderman and Li

Lenderman vs Li — believe in the banana 👍🏼

playing hall

Left, seated from front: Akobian, Ipatov, Awonder Liang, Nyzhnyk, John Burke
Right, seated from front: Denys Shmelov, Alex Stripunsky, Shimanov, and others who are similarly hiding their faces | Photo: Ruifeng Li

Final standings (top 15)

# Name Rtng Fed Rd 1 Rd 2 Rd 3 Rd 4 Rd 5 Rd 6 Rd 7 Rd 8 Rd 9 Tot Prize Amount
1 GM Illia I Nyzhnyk 2605 UKR W99 W87 W29 D7 D16 W44 W9 W6 D3 7.5 1st $20500
2 GM Lazaro Bruzon Batista 2646 CUB W97 W85 W108 D36 W35 L7 W38 W37 D9 7.0 2nd-5th $4700
3 GM Alex Shimanov 2626 RUS W117 W61 W28 W23 L6 D11 W81 W41 D1 7.0 2nd-5th $4700
4 GM Aleksandr Lenderman 2615 USA W139 W138 W84 D6 D19 D42 W40 D7 W18 7.0 2nd-5th $4700
5 GM Tigran Petrosian 2607 ARM D98 D176 W99 W61 W25 D19 D55 W28 W15 7.0 2nd-5th $4700
6 GM Liem Quang Le 2728 VIE W51 W58 W44 D4 W3 D9 D7 L1 W38 6.5 6th-10th $514
7 GM Dariusz Swiercz 2663 POL W52 W163 W13 D1 D10 W2 D6 D4 D12 6.5 6th-10th $514
8 GM Alexander Ipatov 2650 TUR W116 W60 W14 D19 D11 D81 D12 D22 W41 6.5 6th-10th $514
9 GM Samuel Sevian 2624 USA W74 W31 W45 H— W36 D6 L1 W55 D2 6.5 6th-10th $514
10 GM Ilya Smirin 2591 ISR W118 D32 W46 W39 D7 H— L41 W25 W42 6.5 6th-10th $514
11 GM Awonder Liang 2569 USA D164 W122 W88 W22 D8 D3 D24 D26 W44 6.5 6th-10th $514
12 GM John Burke 2524 USA W102 L66 W120 W64 W29 D20 D8 W30 D7 6.5 6th-10th $514
13 GM Irina Krush 2422 USA W129 W95 L7 D113 D109 W69 D33 W48 W35 6.5 U2450 $3750
14 IM Joshua Sheng 2411 USA W131 W140 L8 W115 D20 L35 W67 W34 W36 6.5 U2450 $3750
15 GM Anton Kovalyov 2658 CAN W115 D59 D30 W94 W57 D55 W35 D18 L5 6.0    

All available games

 

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Sixteen-year-old GM Ruifeng Li 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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WillScarlett WillScarlett 7/13/2018 02:57
For those with a knowledge of Mae West: "Is that a banana by your score sheet, or are you just happy to play me ? "
macauley macauley 7/13/2018 01:08
@Greatgam56 - You mean does he get to keep the money or use it to "pay back" scholarship funds? Interesting question. First of all, there is no overarching rule or principal like the NCAA has for chess, so it would depend on each player's unique situation. I would think since it's not a college competition, he isn't participating as a member of a team and is (presumably) paying his own expenses, that the answer is yes, he can keep it.
Greatgam56 Greatgam56 7/13/2018 12:36
Congratulations to Illya and Webster University. I have a question. Following the often heated debate about the lack of payment of student athletes in e.g. basketball and football, I am wondering how the first place prize of 20.500 US dollars fits in this discussion?
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