2012 World Open

Bobby Ang

Posted on July 20, 2012

2012 World Open
40th Annual World Open
Sheraton Philadelphia City Center Hotel, USA
July 2-8, 2012

Final Top Standings

1-2. GM Ivan Sokolov NED 2676, GM Alexander Shabalov USA 2534, 7.0/9

3-9. GM Wesley So PHI 2650, GM Aleksander Lenderman USA 2613, GM Giorgi Kacheishvili GEO 2605, GM Ray Robson USA 2601, GM Yury Shulman USA 2588, GM Alexander Evdokimov RUS 2544, IM Marc Tyler Arnold USA 2529, 6.5/9

10-19. GM Eduardo Iturrizaga VEN 2628, GM Abhijeet Gupta IND 2627, GM Sergey Erenburg ISR 2624, GM Sam Shankland USA 2579, GM Marin Bosiocic CRO 2570, GM Alexander Stripunsky USA 2553, GM Mikheil Kekelidze GEO 2494, IM Mackenzie Molner USA 2479, FM John Daniel Bryant USA 2377, IM Eesha Karavade IND 2343, 6.0/9

Total of 118 participants

Time Control: 90 minutes for the first 40 moves, then 30 minutes play to finish with a 30-second increment per move starting move 1

The World Open is an institution. It was started in 1973 by Bill Goichberg and is still alive and kicking today. It continues to draw a strong entry by:

1. offering top prizes

2. holding its events in exciting city centers like New York or Philadelphia and not in some out-of-the-way town with nothing to do

3. giving players the option of playing some rounds in the same day to save on hotel bills

4. arranging for cheaper hotel rates for its participants, even for discounts on parking fees

This year GMs Ivan Sokolov and Alex Shabalov tied for 1st place in the main event. An “Armageddon” play-off between the two GMs was held after the end of the tournament. Sokolov had the white pieces and five minutes, while Shabalov had the black pieces, three minutes and draw odds (meaning if the game is drawn then Shabalov is considered to have won). An interesting feature is that the tie-break was played with the “Bronstein” clock -- there is a 5 second delay before the clock starts ticking down to prevent ridiculous panic-time scrambles.

The tie-break game was won by Sokolov quite quickly and he became the 2012 World Open Champion.

The Philippines’ Wesley So could have joined them had he been able to beat GM Yuri Shulman in the last round, but their 27-move Nimzo-Indian encounter was balanced all the way and a draw the correct result. Wesley ended up tied for 3rd-9th places and wound up with the bronze medal on tie-break.

The World Open, with its GM and IM-heavy entry list, has always been a good opportunity to score much-needed norms. This year IMs Marc Tyler Arnold, Eesha Karavade and FM John Daniel Bryant all scored GM norms while IM norms were attained by FM Michael Kleinman, FM Thomas Bartell, Yaacov Norowitz and Luke Harmon-Vellotti. For IM Arnold this is his 3rd and last norm so he should be officially getting the title in the next FIDE Congress.

I was glad to read about the GM norm for FM Bryant. This 21-year-old Bakersfield, California resident is the step son of former Philippine national team mainstay IM Enrico Sevillano. Any protégé of “Ikong” Sevillano will surely have a style geared to the attack. I will show you his game against GM Alejandro Ramirez, the first and old GM from Costa Rica.

Bryant,John Daniel (2377) -- Ramirez,Alejandro (2576) [B04]

40th Annual World Open Philadelphia USA (5), 06.07.2012

1.e4 Nf6 2.e5 Nd5 3.d4 d6 4.Nf3 dxe5 5.Nxe5 c6 6.Be2 Nd7 7.Nf3 b5 8.0-0 e6 9.Re1 Be7 10.Nbd2 0-0 11.c3 a6 12.Ne5 Bb7 13.Ndf3 N7b6?! 14.Bd3 c5 15.dxc5 Bxc5

Bryant has muddled around for a few moves (e.g. I don’t know about his Ne5-f3 and then back to e5 manuever), but now he starts zeroing in the Black king.

16.Ng5 Nf6

[16...h6? 17.Bh7+ Kh8 18.Nexf7+ Rxf7 19.Nxf7+ wins the queen]

17.Qc2 g6 18.Ngf3 Nbd7 19.Bg5 Nxe5 20.Nxe5 Be7 21.Rad1 Nd5?

Obviously Black wanted to exchange pieces, but he overlooks White’s refutation.

22.Bh6 Re8 23.Nxg6! fxg6 24.Bxg6 Bc5 25.Re4?!

Simply 25.Bxe8 Qxe8 26.Re5 wins.


[25...Qf6! turns the tables]

26.Bxe8 Qxe8 27.Rg4 Bf8 28.Qe4! Qf7 29.Rxd5 Bxh6 30.Qd4+ Bg7 31.Rd7 1-0

[31...Bxd4 32.Rxf7 Bc5 33.Rxb7 Rf8 34.Kf1! is an easy win]

And now let me show you a strong performance by Wesley So. His opponent, GM Atanas Kolev, is among the top five players of Bulgaria. He is an openings expert, having written books on the Sicilian Najdorf and the Sveshnikov Variation. He is also the long-time coach of the Bulgarian women’s national team.

So, Wesley (2650) -- Kolev, Atanas (2604) [C68]

World Open Philadelphia (7), 07.07.2012

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Bxc6 dxc6 5.0-0 Bg4 6.h3 Bh5

GM Stefan Kindermann wrote an excellent book on the Spanish Exchange Variation back in 2005. His personal recommendation for Black in this line is to meet 5.0-0 with 5...Bg4 6.h3 and now to sacrifice a piece with 6...h5 7.d3 Qf6 8.Nbd2 (8.Be3) 8...Ne7 followed by 9...Ng6.

And this is not just a recent opinion. The Viennese Master and Journalist George Marco (don’t sneeze at him -- he was strong enough to hold Carl Schlechter to two draws in two matches in 1893 and 1894, admittedly 15 years before Schlechter hit his peak but still noteworthy) wrote that it is the refutation of 5.0-0.

The text move 6...Bh5 has hardly been seen until two years ago when the German “frontline” of GMs Naiditsch, Gustafsson and Meier started to use it as a surprise weapon -- it involves a pawn sacrifice and Black opening up the h-file.

7.g4 Bg6 8.Nxe5 Qh4

Not 8...Bxe4?? 9.Re1 wins the bishop, at least.

9.Qf3 f6

This is the main idea of Black’s play. If 10.Nxg6 then 10...hxg6. If instead of taking on g6 the knight retreats then 10...h5. In all cases the h-file is opened.

10.Nxg6 hxg6 <D>

Position after 10...hxg6

You will admit the position looks scary for White. Black will continue...g6-g5,...Ne7-g6,...0-0-0. He also has the option of re-centralizing his queen with...Qh7-g8-e6. All in all, Black’s plan of action is clear, while White’s is not. Try this in active/blitz games -- it is very dangerous for White to meet. Of course we must qualify that you should make sure your opponent’s name is not Wesley So!


Some people play 11.d4 showing no intention of hanging on to the h3-pawn and anyway if Black takes it then queens are exchanged and there is no more attack. The defect of that plan is that Black is not obligated to capture it. After 11...g5! 12.Be3 Ne7 13.Nd2 Ng6 14.Rad1 0-0-0 15.Qg2 Qh7! (the maneuver I told you about earlier) 16.Nf3 Qg8 17.b3 Rh6 with...Qh7 to follow looks hard to meet.

11...g5 12.d3 Ne7 13.Rh1

“El Diablo” Alexei Shirov has also taken up this line. In a recent game there was 13.Be3 Qh7 14.Rh1 Ng6 15.Qe2 Qg8! (always keep this maneuver in mind) 16.Nd2 Bd6 17.Nc4 Bf4 18.a4 Qe6 and Black was doing perfectly well. Wandzik,W (2241)-Shirov,A (2735) Warsaw 2010 0-1 44.

13...Qh7 14.Kf1 0-0-0 15.Be3 Kb8 16.Nd2!

If the knight goes to c3 then its final destination would be g3, which is not so convincing. On d2 the knight can either go to c4 or f3.

16...Qg8 17.Nc4 Ng6 18.Qf5 Rh6

Don’t worry, this rook is not “dead” on h6. Black can follow up with...Qh7 and also put the other rook on h8 for pressure on the file.

19.a4 Bb4 20.Qf3 Qh7 21.Ke2

White’s knight on c4 performs an important defensive function of keeping Black’s knight away from e5.

21...Nh4 22.Qg3 Ng6 23.Qf3 Nh4 24.Qg3 Ng6

A tacit draw offer.



25...Be7 26.b4 Rh8 27.b5! Rxh3 28.Rxh3 Qxh3 29.Qxh3 Rxh3 30.bxc6 bxc6 31.Na5

Now I am sure the reader will have appreciated the strength of White’s 16th move.


Black can try to save the pawn with 31...c5!? 32.Rb1+ Kc8 33.Nc6 Bd6 (33...Kd7 34.Nb8+ followed by 35.Nxa6) 34.d4 cxd4 35.cxd4 the difference is that White’s rook is already on b1. Kolev preferred to give up the worthless doubled pawn for the extra tempo.

32.Nxc6 Bd6 33.d4 Bf4 34.Rb1 Bxe3 35.fxe3 Rg3 36.d5 Kd7

[36...Rxg4?? 37.Rb8+ Kd7 38.Rd8#]

37.Rb8 Kd6 38.Rd8+ Kc5 39.Rd7 Rxg4 40.Rxg7 Nh4 41.Rxc7 Kd6 42.Re7!

The killer. White’s threat is 43.Re6+ Kc7 (43...Kc5 44.Nd4 with unavoidable mate) 44.a5 Rg2+ 45.Kd3 Rf2 46.e5! fxe5 47.Nxe5 and the d5-pawn will be running down the board. Realizing that his situation is desperate Kolev tries to complicate matters with his own g-pawn run towards his queening square.

42...Rg2+ 43.Kf1 g4 44.Re6+ Kc7 45.Rxf6 g3 46.Rf7+ Kd6 47.Rf6+ Kc7 48.Rf3! Kd6

[48...Nxf3 49.Kxg2]

49.Nd4 Nxf3 50.Kxg2 1-0

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