Lenderman 1st On Tiebreak At World Open

Lenderman 1st On Tiebreak At World Open

| 21 | Chess Event Coverage

On Sunday, GM Aleksandr Lenderman won the World Open on tiebreak. The 25-year-old grandmaster from Brooklyn beat GM Rauf Mamedov in an Armageddon playoff and earned $5462.50.

The 43rd edition of the World Open took place June 30-July 5. The first edition of the tournament was won in 1973 by the late GM Walter Browne, who sadly passed away recently — see FM Mike Klein's obituary here. Browne tied for first in '79 and '89. 

This year's event was held for the third and last time at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City hotel in Arlington, Virginia. It will return to Philadelphia next year.

As always, the festival included several rating groups as well as many side events, such as a mixed doubles, 10-minute championships and blitz tournaments. The top group had 32 GMs, 27 IMs, 38 FMs, one WGM and two WFMs playing. Players from 30 chess federations participated.

The playing hall. | Photo Shaun McCoy.

After nine rounds, no fewer than eight grandmasters tied for first place with 7.0/9: Alex Lenderman (USA), Rauf Mamedov (Azerbaijan), Ilya Smirin (Israel), Alexander Ipatov (Turkey), Ehsan Ghaem Maghami (Iran), Illia Nyzhnyk (Ukraine), Romain Edouard (France) and Axel Bachmann (Paraguay).

This is far from uncommon at the World Open, which is a tournament without regulations against quick draws. It has often finished in a large tie for first place; the record is a 10-way tie for first place, which has happened four times!

Each player in this group earned a bit over $5162.50, and Lenderman took home $300 more after beating Mamedov in a playoff. Six players ended just below and got just $137.50: Varuzhan Akobian, Anton Kovalyov, Gata Kamsky, Luke McShane, Sergei Azarov and Krikor Mekhitarian.

Lenderman scored an important win in round four, where he beat GM Alexander Stripunsky as Black. He reached a winning position out of the opening but then his opponent got a second chance. In time trouble, the game ended in Lenderman's favor anyway:


Lenderman at the 2014 U.S. Championship | Photo Mike Klein.

Besides Lenderman, three others were on 6.5/8 going into the last round. Lenderman said he suspected (correctly) that Ipatov and Mamedov would draw. Lenderman said he was offered a draw before the game by Ghaem Maghami, but he declined.

"I never take a draw before a game," Lenderman told "It's a sport, not a business." He said there was also some game theory involved. If he played out the scenario 10 times and won five and lost five, he figured he would win more than taking 10 draws. However, after a little more than dozen moves, he didn't like his position and agreed to a draw then.

As said, eight players tied for first place. The two grandmasters with the best tiebreak played an Armageddon playoff to decide the tournament winner (and an extra $300): Lenderman and GM Rauf Mamedov of Azerbaijan. Lenderman actually had to take two byes from the blitz event Sunday night. He nonetheless won convincingly:


Lenderman was congratulated by many fans on Facebook, whereupon he posted:  “Thanks everyone for the Congrats! Feeling very unfortunate to come out with a successful World Open this time.” He quickly corrected himself: “Excuse me, fortunate, not unfortunate of course!

"I had a couple of five-hour games and the rest were all at least three hours," he told "My tournament was very tense -- seven to eight hours of chess per day."

Another player who had a very successful tournament was the untitled player Craig Hilby, a youngster whose positional skills remind GM Melik Khachiyan of Tigran Petrosian. After winning against a lower-rated player in round one, he beat GM Conrad Holt, then drew four(!) GMs in a row: Artur Jussupow, Sergey Erenburg, Alexander Stripunsky, and Irina Krush.

One tense game closely followed by participants. | Photo Paul Swaney.

In round seven he continued by beating GM Alexander Shabalov, then drew GM Leonid Yudasin only to lose his last-round game to GM Felipe El Debs. With a TPR of 2582, Hilby just missed out on a GM norm, but it was more than enough for an IM norm.

Incidentally, Hilby played six former World Open winners. Here's his win over Shabalov, with the notes taken from IM Keaton Kiewra's video, which was posted earlier today on


 Watch the full video here. 

Another result that should be mentioned is the 6.5/9 scored by another untitled player, John Michael Burke. His tournament included draws with IM Michael Lee and IM Luke Harmon-Vellotti, and wins against IM Farai Mandizha, IM Andrew Tang and GM Arun P Subramanian.

Here's Burke's win in the last round with which he clinched the $4,000 U2300 top prize:

Besides the extra $300 for winning the playoff, Lenderman's bonus money didn't end there. He also won $1,500 for finishing first in the "mixed doubles" prize (a man and woman from any section combine their scores for a team score). His partner Carla Naylor also scored 7/9 in the under 1800 section, and their combined score of 14 edged out two other teams. Lenderman said his tournament was so busy he wasn't able to help Naylor prepare.

You may also wish the read the blog about several staff members and their experience at the World Open!


2015 World Open | Final Standings (Top 40)

# Name Rating Tot TB1 Prize Amount
1 GM Alex Lenderman 2623 7.0 43.5 1st-8th/Bonus $5462.50
2 GM Rauf Mamedov 2639 7.0 46.5 1st-8th $5162.50
3 GM Ilya Smirin 2663 7.0 41.5 1st-8th $5162.50
4 GM Alexander Ipatov 2615 7.0 41.5 1st-8th $5162.50
5 GM Ehsan Ghaem Maghami 2570 7.0 41 1st-8th $5162.50
6 GM Illia Nyzhnyk 2627 7.0 39.5 1st-8th $5162.50
7 GM Romain Edouard 2639 7.0 37 1st-8th $5162.50
8 GM Axel Bachmann 2633 7.0 36 1st-8th $5162.50
9 GM Varuzhan Akobian 2632 6.5 43 9th-10th $137.50
10 GM Anton Kovalyov 2613 6.5 43 9th-10th $137.50
11 GM Gata Kamsky 2672 6.5 42.5 9th-10th $137.50
12 GM Luke McShane 2685 6.5 39 9th-10th $137.50
13 GM Sergei Azarov 2618 6.5 39 9th-10th $137.50
14 GM Krikor Mekhitarian 2589 6.5 39 9th-10th $137.50
15 John Michael Burke 2258 6.5 38 1st U2300 $4000.00
16 GM Felipe El Debs 2515 6.5 37 9th-10th $137.50
17 GM Sergey Erenburg 2585 6.5 29.5 9th-10th $137.50
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 $1383.33
24 GM Boris Avrukh 2605 6.0 39    
25 IM Luke C Harmon-Vellotti 2430 6.0 38.5 1st-5th 2300-2449 $1383.33
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 $1383.33
29 IM Kassa Korley 2430 6.0 36.5 1st-5th 2300-2449 $1383.33
30 IM David Vigorito 2415 6.0 36.5 1st-5th 2300-2449 $1383.33
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 $2000.00
34 FM Nicolas De T. Checa 2346 6.0 33 1st-5th 2300-2449 $1383.33
35 IM Renato R Quintiliano Pinto 2429 5.5 43.5    
36 IM Michael Lee 2416 5.5 41.5    
37 IM Alexander R Katz 2320 5.5 41.5    
38 Craig Hilby 2308 5.5 41.5    
39 GM Gildardo Garcia 2389 5.5 40.5    
40 IM Thomas Bartell 2331 5.5 40.5    
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