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Friedel Wins 2013 U.S. Open

Friedel Wins 2013 U.S. Open

GM Josh Friedel bested a field of a dozen grandmasters and more than 500 other players to win the 2013 U.S. Open, held in Madison, Wisconsin from July 27-August 4. His eight wins and one loss put him on 8/9 and he finished tied with GM Julio Sadorra and IM Mackenzie Molner. Friedel and Molner advanced on tiebreaks to a blitz playoff, which Friedel won.

The win and tiebreak bonus money netted Friedel $4400 and, perhaps more importantly, an automatic invitation to the 2014 U.S. Championship (Sadorra and Molner each received $4200).The field finished in a very tight bunch - 11 of the 12 grandmasters finished within one point of the winner.



Experienced sailor GM Josh Friedel off the coast of Manhattan


Friedel won his first seven games (including a head-to-head encounter with Sadorra in round six) before losing in round eight to GM Alex Lenderman, who looked to be in control going into the ninth and final round. Sadorra then beat Lenderman with a deep exchange sacrifice, which allowed both him and Friedel to leapfrog over Lenderman. Molner, a GM-elect, dispatched an FM in the final round to also land on 8/9, where he advanced to the playoff.



Frequent Chess.com video author IM Mackenzie Molner


Molner had better tiebreaks than Friedel, and chose Black in the Armageddon game. He took three minutes plus draw odds to Friedel's five minutes.


The 26-year-old Friedel decided to play in the U.S. Open for a combination of reasons. He skipped his usual European circuit which he often chooses in the summer (Friedel teaches 10-15 hours per week during the school year, so he is more active on the tournament scene when school is out). Also, after playing in five previous U.S. Championships, he has only attended the last few years as a second or as a spectator. "It's always been the most important tournament to me," Friedel said.

But simple geography may have played the biggest role. The winner was playing in his home state - Friedel moved to Wisconsin several years ago for a chess teaching position. "I definitely had a lot of people coming up to me showing suppport, which is nice," Friedel said, adding that he got to stay with a friend for free. He also said that he appreciates the relative anonymity of other tournaments.



Madison, the state capital of Wisconsin


Here was his pivotal and chaotic win over Sadorra in round six.


The tournament was a Swiss in one giant section, a rarity in American events where players are usually grouped in smaller sections based on rating. The U.S. Open also resembles the format of many of its European cousins in that players can choose to play in the one-game-per-day schedule, which is the format Friedel chose. He said he enjoys the leisurely playing schedule. "As a result, I would say my play was at a higher quality," he said.

One quirk of the format is that GMs often play opponents below master level for five or six rounds, then play each other for the final rounds. According to Friedel, the mental adjustment can be a big challenge. "I've had trouble with the switch," he said. "I handled it better than in years past."

The former Samford Chess Scholarship recipient, now in his mid-20s, was older than many of the other grandmasters in Madison who were still in college on chess scholarships. Friedel did not consider himself a veteran, but said, "I definitely feel like I have a little more experience, which I didn't used to in the past."


2013 U.S. Open - Madison, Wisconsin | Final standings
Rank/player Points
1- GM Josh Friedel (USCF 2595) 8.0*
2- IM Mackenzie Molner (USCF 2558) 8.0
2- GM Julio Sadorra (USCF 2640) 8.0
4- GM Alex Lenderman (USCF 2665) 7.5
4- GM Fidel Corrales Jimenez (USCF 2653) 7.5

4- GM Christian Chirila (USCF 2600)

4- GM Robert Hungaski (USCF 2541) 7.5
8- GM Conrad Holt (USCF 2627) 7.0
8- GM Alexander Ivanov (USCF 2622) 7.0
8- GM Ehsan Ghaem Maghami (USCF 2604) 7.0
8- GM John Fedorowicz (USCF 2491) 7.0
8- GM Roberto Martin-Del-Campo (USCF 2486) 7.0
8- IM Michael Mulyar (USCF 2481) 7.0
8- FM Eric Rosen (USCF 2409) 7.0
8- IM John Watson (USCF 2358) 7.0
8- WGM Camilla Baginskaite (USCF 2355) 7.0
8- Sam Schmakel (USCF 2346) 7.0
8- Kevin Mo (USCF 2343) 7.0
8- William James Aramil (USCF 2332) 7.0
8- Ruifeng Li (USCF 2326) 7.0
8- Scott Haubrich (USCF 2044) 7.0


Full results are available here.

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