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Monday, July 8, 2013

GM Varuzhan Akobian Wins World Open 2013 in 10-Way Tie for First

12th Women's World Chess Champion Alexandra Kosteniuk's Chess Blog for Chess Daily News and Trivia (c) 2013

Hi everyone, 
GMs Akobian & Erenburg Photo courtesy Chris Bird

Arlington, VA – In an unusually large massive tie that shows the toughness of the event, ten GMs split the first place prize at the 41st annual World Open over the Fourth of July weekend with 6.5/9 each.

The tournament ended with last-round draws on all four of the top boards, simultaneously catapulting eight GMs with 6 points apiece to first place. Two other GMs with 5.5 points caught up to join the top finishers in the final round.

“I’m surprised that people didn’t try harder for a win, because if you’re tying with ten people, your payout is not gonna be that big,” said GM Conrad Holt, 19, a University of Texas at Dallas chess team member who was among those who tied for first place. Each player earned just over $3900. 

“I think that it was a very fighting tournament the first round, but in the final round, the best players played solid,” said GM Lazaro Bruzon, who trekked to the World Open from Canada, where he recently won first place in the 2013 Edmonton International with 8 out of 9 points.

The full list of GMs who tied for first at the 2013 World Open include: GM Lazaro Bruzon, of Cuba; GM Viktor Laznicka, of the Czech Republic; GM Tamaz Gelashvili, of Georgia (the country); GM Varuzhan Akobian, of Kansas; GM Quesada Yunieski, of Cuba; GM Sergey Erenburg, of Pennsylvania; GM Parimarjan Negi, of India; GM Alejandro Ramirez, of Texas; and GM Yury Shulman, of Illinois.

GM Akobian earned the title of World Open champion in a Armageddon game victory over GM Yunieski, in which Akobian had black and draw odds but Yunieski had a 5 to 3 minute time advantage.

Akobian also took a bonus prize for this win, for a total payout of 3990.90. GM Varuzhan Akobian said players usually have to score 7 points to share the World Open first place prize money with just a few players. Akobian won the World Open outright in 2004 with 7.5 points and was one of nine players to win the World Open in 2007 with 6.5 points.

USCF Records show the last ten-way tie at the World Open took place in 2003. Since then, there have been a couple of nine-way ties, in 2006 and 2007, respectively, but first place at the signature tournament, historically held in Philadelphia, has mostly been split by two players who scored 7 points or better.

“I knew if I can win my last game I knew it would be clear first,” Akobian said. “Everybody knew that it would be a big chance to win clear first.”

For its debut in its new temporary home at the Crystal City Hyatt just outside of Washington, D.C., the World Open drew over 1204 entrants. The tournament fielded 30 GMs and 17 IMs or WGMs.

Sean Vibbert, of Indiana, earned his first IM norm. Chess Life Online spoke with several GMs about what they considered their most critical games and other significant factors. Interestingly, Holt said when he made one mistake that “completely ruined” his position in his Round 2 game against FM Taibur, it probably led him to be paired against weaker opponents throughout the tournament.

“I slipped through the cracks and didn’t have to play that strong of opponents, but somehow I still tied for first,” Holt said.

Holt counted his Round 7, 91-move game against GM Sam Shankland as one of the most critical.

GM Gelashvili said one of his more interesting games was against GM Ray Robson, who was attempting pile up on h7 and deliver checkmate.

“If he plays 33.Nxh5, I take with the queen on d4,” Gelashvili said of the position above. Just before Ray resigned, Tamaz explained: “If he moves (37) Kg2, then I simply take on g5 with check, and trade queens, then I have an extra rook.”

Akobian counted his Round 5 win with Black against GM Robson as his best game. (

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