Najer retains Word Open title, Nakamura needs just two days to share first

| 0 | Chess Event Coverage
NajerU.S. Champion Hikaru Nakamura needed just two days to finish first at the World Open (a 9-round Swiss!) in Philadelphia this weekend. He shared first prize with Russian GM Evgeny Najer who retained his 2008 title as Nakamura couldn't play the Armageddon game - he was already on his way to his next tournament.

Evgeny Najer | Photo © Chris Bird

The World Open took place June 29-July 5, 2009 at the Sheraton City Center Hotel in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and had a total of about 1100 participants competing for a $250,000 prize fund. The main event featured some very strong players, including U.S. Champion Hikaru Nakamura, 2008 winner Evgeny Najer and Gata Kamsky.

As in many U.S. tournaments it was possible to play this 9-round Swiss in different formats. To begin with, there was both a 7-day and a 5-day schedule with a classical rate of play: 40 moves in 2 hours plus 1 hour to finish the game. In these formats it was possible to score norms, and IMs Alex Lenderman and Leonid Gerzhoy actually managed to gain a GM norm. For Lenderman it was his last and since he already passed 2500 he'll be America's next GM.

For the 4-day option the rate of play was 75 minutes per player for the whole game for rounds 1 and 2 and then the classical 40 moves in 2 hours plus 1 hour to finish the game for rounds 3-9. Alternatively you could go for the 3-day option, where rounds 1-5 were played on the same day at 45 minutes per player for the whole game, and then 40 moves in 2 hours plus 1 hour to finish the game for rounds 6-9.


GMs Leonid Yudasin and Hikaru Nakamura meet in round 2
of the 3-day schedule | Photo © Chris Bird

This is what Hikaru Nakamura did, and he also took the opportunity to take two half-point byes in the last two rounds, as he was expected to be in San Sebasti?°n on Monday for the opening ceremony of the Donostia Chess Festival. (He's got a nice first round there, facing Anatoli Karpov today!)

Nakamura's "2-day schedule" suited him well as he's known to be one of the best quickplay players around. He confirmed this once more by scoring 4.5 out of 5 on the first day and entering the normal schedule with long games, on Saturday he quickly drew with Smirin, to finish with a Black win against Najer. While flying over the Atlantic Nakamura had to wait and see how many players would also finish on 7/9 but in the end only title holder Najer managed.

The Russian GM defeated GM Jaan Ehlvest in the last round to secure a first place tie while GMs Ilya Smirin and Varuzhan Akobian agreed to a draw a little earlier, missing out on the chance to join the winners. GM Victor Mikhalevski, who could also catch the leaders with a win, lost to GM Jiri Stocek.

[TABLE=771] Full final standings Open and other sections here.

There would normally be an Armageddon blitz play-off to decide the overall Champion (and for a little extra money) but with Nakamura no longer in Philadelphia, unfortunately this didn't happen and Najer was once again crowned World Open Champion. Nakamura will surely be very satisfied as well, earning US $15,000 for two days work!

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Peter Doggers

Peter Doggers joined a chess club a month before turning 15 and still plays for it. He used to be an active tournament player and holds two IM norms.

Peter has a Master of Arts degree in Dutch Language & Literature. He briefly worked at New in Chess, then as a Dutch teacher and then in a project for improving safety and security in Amsterdam schools.

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