Three-Way Tie at World Open

  • FM MikeKlein
  • on 7/11/14, 12:09 PM.

The World Open began as the largest open tournament in the U.S. when it started in 1973. Back then, the total prize fund was "only" $15,000, while this past year, the first prize in the Open Section was $20,000 by itself.

No one won quite that much in this year's 42nd edition, thanks to a three-way tie among GM Ilya Smirin of Israel, GM Ilya Nyzhnyk of Ukraine, and GM Conrad Holt of the U.S. All three won 7/9 and pocketed $9,891, and Smirin won a $254 bonus for winning a tiebreak Armageddon game with Nyzhnyk.

GM Ilya Smirin, winner of the 2014 World Open (photo: FM Eric Rosen)

Holt repeated his share of the title from last year, when no less than 11 players shared first with 6.5/9. Smirin previously claimed a piece of the title in 2001, 2002, and 2003, although this is his first playoff win.

Here he dispatches one of America's biggest talents, 11-year-old Awonder Liang, who is a past World Youth Championship gold medalist. Liang also has the record for youngest person to beat a grandmaster, but Smirin shows his experience (he is more than four times as old!) by proving ugly pawns also mean open files:

The event took place June 30-July 6 in Arlington, Virginia. Notable is that the Open section only offered a 5-day option. According to the tournament's announcements, this was done to comply with the new FIDE rules about norm events requiring only one section. You can see the full standings here.

The sole GM norm winner was young FM Razvan Preotu of Canada, who had to go through eight grandmasters to earn it!

Eight players earned IM norms, with three earning their third and final norm: Christopher Gu (USA), FM Denys Shmelov (USA) and FM Kassa Korley (USA). Fans of the United States Chess League may note that all three have played there in the past.

IM-elect Kassa Korley (top right), shortly before playing the Alekhine for the first time ever. He drew GM Lazaro Bruzon. U.S. Champion GM Gata Kamsky (hat) in the foreground (photo: Daaim Shabazz, The Chess Drum)

After two-and-a-half decades of being hosted in Philadelphia, this is the second year that the Continental Chess Association has hosted its premier event in Arlington, the Washington, D.C. suburb. The advertised prize fund of $250,000 was nearly met -- the prizes to the top players suggest that 84.66 percent was paid out, thanks to the 1000+ paid entries.

The playing hall before the round...
...and during the round (photos: Richard De Credico)

The event usually attracts so many top players that finishing in sole first place is rare nowadays (this year, 28 of the 95 players in the Open Section were GMs). Only two players have accomplished that in the last 15 years: GM Varuzhan Akobian in 2004 and GM Viktor Laznicka in 2010. Both scored an impressive 7.5/9.

It should be mentioned that 17-year-old Nyzhnyk plans to attend Webster University in St. Louis in the fall. His FIDE rating of 2628 is exactly the same as fourth-board GM Ray Robson -- won't that be a showdown for their "A" team! GMs Wesley So, Le Quang Liem, and Georg Meier are currently rated higher on the Webster team. (Perhaps those five should be their own country for the Olympiad?)

GM Ilya Nyzhnyk (photo: FM Eric Rosen)

Here Nyzhnyk shows a clinical conversion of a space advantage:

A few more players missed out on a chance to join the three winners. GM Yuniesky Quesada Perez of Cuba and GM Sergei Azarov of Belarus began the final round a half-point back, but only managed to draw Nyzhnyk and Smirin, respectively.

GM Mark Paragua and Holt each had 6/8, but Holt's victory propelled him into the shared lead. He had been chasing the leaders all event thanks to an early loss in round two to an IM, but Holt reeled off 4.5 in the last five rounds to eliminate the margin.

Watch him go pawn grabbing against a near-2700 and live to tell the tale:

Smirin used the opposite method -- he won 5.5 of the first 6, then cruised by drawing three 2600+ GMs in the final three rounds. Nyzhnyk's key wins were against GM Josh Friedel in round 6 and 2010 Champion GM Viktor Laznicka in round 8.

The organizers of the tournament, long known for creative ideas like re-entries, also sponsored a "mixed-doubles" prize for the man/woman team who scored the most combined points. Teams could be from different sections, but had to average less than a 2200 rating. Wouldn't you know it, the winning team of Yogesh Gautam and Sandhya Goli had both players re-enter!

11340 reads 14 comments
3 votes


  • 2 years ago

    NM praveenb2002

    I had the worst tournament ever in the World Open!

  • 2 years ago


    @ melvinbluestone

    Here is the updated registration list for the millionaire chess tournament:

  • 2 years ago



    "Most of the population doesn't have the attention-span to appreciate chess."

    Indeed, most of the population doesn't have the attention-span to appreciate anything that lasts more than a few minutes. Ever see the stuff that's 'trending' on websites? Animals on skateboards, toddlers doing stupid dances, Kim Kardashian's latest whatever. Fortunately, the very mechanism that's probably done more to nurture short attention spans, the internet, has opened up whole new possibilities for chess, and the game certainly has flourished online. I suspect there's more people playing and studying chess today than ever before, simply because of the ease of access to games, DBs, articles, analysis, etc.

    However, if you have the "misfortune" to love chess instead of pro wrestling or Nascar, you're still in a minority, and you're probably destined to remain there. And you'll have to content yourself with watching tournaments with comparatively measley prize funds.

    BTW, anybody know how Maurice Ashley's Million Dollar tourny is doing? Have a lot of people signed up to play?

  • 2 years ago


    @warrior689: Don't confuse "biggest" with "high class." Because "high class" the World Open is certainly not. 

    As I said, chess never will become a huge spectator sport. It's just the way things are.

    Play chess because you enjoy it, pursue rating and title goals because you enjoy it. You are right that lots of players with good potential leave chess for other careers--as you say they have to make a living.

  • 2 years ago


    @Andre_Harding-when you say it one of the biggest that is exactly what i mean. it is only considered big in relative terms. however even if it is big in relation to other tournament it isn't big by itself. I mean it is the WORLD OPEN. this is supposed to be a high class event!! if such an event only pays out $1000 to 4th place, chess will never become a huge thing. tennis players can rely on their sport for money. most chessplayers aren't willing to take the risk, as only the top 50 or maybe 100 (few exceptions) can make a decent living. and even among those, i think the only people who make above $100,000 per year are the top 5 or 10. don't take this the wring way. i am a kid and also trying to become a GM when i am older. but i have to lead a life to. thats why most players who have the capacity to become really strong just play chess as a hobby, and reach 2200 to 2400 max, and then pursue a career.

  • 2 years ago


    The 2008 World Open held in July 2008 in Philadelphia boasted a $400,000. projected prize fund with a guarantee of $320,000. and the entry fee was only $365. That was a much better deal.

  • 2 years ago


    Was the 7th round game between Smirin and Nyzhnyk an agreed upon draw of 5 moves?

  • 2 years ago


    @Chop-That-Wood: It isn't false advertizing. Cash prizes in US tournaments are advertized as "$X projected based on Z entries, $Y Guaranteed." In this case it was $250,000 projected based on 1180 paid entries, $200,000 minimum guaranteed. It also means that had there been more than 1180 paid entries, more than $250,000 in prizes would have been paid out. See

    The idea of this structure is to protect the organizer somewhat if they get a low turnout, and also to protect the players so that they know at least 80% of the prizes will be paid.

    Some events (including a number of smaller CCA tournies) just advertize "$X Unconditionally Guaranteed." Well, that is the amount of prize money that will be paid, no matter how many people show up.

    @warrior689: The World Open prize fund is the largest in the USA every year and I would bet probably the largest in the world for a true Open tournament. But it costs around $350 to enter...

    @bigbikefan: Chess will never be popular as a sport. Never. The game will continue to become more and more popular as a pastime and as an educational tool, but not as a sport. Most of the population doesn't have the attention-span to appreciate chess.

  • 2 years ago


    The prize pool is probably made up from "cannon fodder" entrant's fees only. There is no way chess would become as popular and "sell-able" to prospective sponsor companies like other individual sports (tennis, golf), so it naturally goes more like a professional poker playing event. The only difference is, the circle of potential winners is too small for a chess tournament like that. The organizers should probably give it a try and call Jack Link. Who knows...

  • 2 years ago


    why such low prizes for sich an event. only $1000 for 4th palce? And people wonder why chess isn't as popular as other sports.

  • 2 years ago

    NM chess_player_17

    @jtsio: The World Open, along with many other open tournaments in the US, features multiple schedules, often with different time controls, which start at different times and merge later. The World Open currently has 7-day, 5-day, 4-day, and 3-day schedules, all of which merge by round 6. Therefore, players in the 7-day schedule, if disappointed by their performance through two days of play, can withdraw and start fresh in another schedule.

    @Chop-That-Wood: "Advertised" prize fund refers to the projected amount of prizes; if fewer than anticipated entries were received, the organizers aren't required to pay out as much. There is a lower threshold, though, known as the "guaranteed" prize fund.

  • 2 years ago


    One problem in chess (especially in the US) is that all of the prizes come from the entry fees. The organizers never try to collect some money from the sponsors. In the long run, it is not going to work. If people want chess to become mainstream sports, then they should decrease the entry fee and increase the prize money. Only then, more players will be attracted and they have less risk of losing money when playing bigger tournaments.

  • 2 years ago

    NM Chop-That-Wood

    "The advertised prize fund of $250,000 was nearly met -- the prizes to the top players suggest that 84.66 percent was paid out, thanks to the 1000+ paid entries." Surely the advertised prize fund should always be paid out? Isn't that false advertising?

  • 2 years ago


    What are these "re-entries" about?

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