The End is Near: Day 8 in Orlando

GM Illia Nyzhnyk leads the 2019 U.S. Open at 7/8 after a win last night over IM Daniel Fernandez. Eleven players (!) are a half-point behind at 6.5/8: GMs Dariusz Swiercz, Lazaro Bruzon Batista, Timur Gareyev, Kamil Gragun, Victor Mikhalevski, Elshan Moradiabadi, Andrew Tang, Alexander Shabalov, Robert Hungaski, Mackenzie Molner, and IM Bryce Tiglon.

Illia Nyzhnyk (photo Hartmann)

At stake is a total prize fund of $40,000, with an $8,000 first prize. Of equal, if not greater, interest for some players is qualification to the 2020 U.S. Championship, awarded to the top finishing American-registered player. (An Armageddon game will be played if necessary to determine the qualifier.) Of the twelve players listed above, seven are “U.S. flagged” – Swiercz, Gareyev, Moradiabadi, Tang, Shabalov, Hungaski, Molner, and Tiglon.

Last night’s Round 8 set the stage for today’s action, which kicks off at 3pm EDT. Nyzhnyk’s victory over Fernandez on Board 1 was perhaps his most difficult of the tournament thus far, but a slip near the time control by Fernandez opened the door for Nyzhnyk to enter a winning rook and pawn ending. It also put him in pole position as today’s final round nears.

Swiercz – Mikhalevski and Tiglon – Bruzon Batista were both drawn on Boards 2 and 3. In both cases Black might have had an advantage, but White was up to the task in holding firm. Tiglon’s defense is particularly instructive.

Tiglon – Bruzon Batista (photo Hartmann)

Two more draws between players at who entered the round at 6 points (Hungaski – Gareyev and Dragun – Moradiabadi) added to the burgeoning pool of players at 6.5. They were joined there by Tang, Shabalov, and Molner, all of whom won to keep within shouting distance of Nyzhnyk.

Key pairings for today’s final round (subject to change): Gareyev – Nyzhnyk, Shabalov – Swiercz, Bruzon Batista – Tang, Hungaski – Dragun, Mikhalevski – Tiglon, Moradiabadi – Molner.

Live coverage is available on our US Chess Twitch channel with IMs Kostya Kavutsky and Eric Rosen beginning at 3pm EDT. You can also drop by Salon 7 and watch them live if you are on-site here in Orlando!

“Your humble reporter”

Two US Chess employees – FIDE Events Manager Grant Oen and “your humble reporter” (YHR) John Hartmann – have been playing in the Open. Both Oen and YHR are at 5/8 as today’s round approaches. (Assistant Director of Events Pete Karagianis took part in the Bughouse and G/15 as well.)

Last night we were joined by Senior Director of Strategic Communications Dan Lucas, who entered the fray as the “house player.” It was his first rated game in five years, and he won!

Dan Lucas (photo Hartmann)

YHR has struggled with the question of whether to include any of his games, lest he be seen as hubristic or (worse) an utter bore. Despite fond memories of Jerry Hanken’s writing, to which this should be seen as an homage, and despite the approval of the Twitterati…

…YHR was leaning towards not publishing his own games, unless something special happened.

Well, it happened last night.

Playing Black against Florida’s Phillip Durand, and admittedly against the run of play, YHR won a precisely calculated pawn ending that, in its finale, echoes a Grigoriev study. (See Dvoretsky’s Endgame Manual, 1-30.) A true gentleman, Durand chuckled when he saw the shoulder and skewer over-the-board, and he graciously allowed me to execute the winning idea. Thank you, Phillip.

The Blitz!

Saturday also saw the 2019 U.S. Open National Blitz Championship, and in a turn of events that will surprise absolutely no one, it was won by the PenguinGM1, Andrew Tang. Tang scored 13/14 to claim the $400 first prize. His only dropped points came in Round 6 against second-place finisher Daniel Cheng.

Delegates do the Double

The Delegates continued their work this morning after a long day on Saturday. As per tradition, US Chess President Allen Priest is ‘liveforuming’ the proceedings in the US Chess Issues Forum.

The US Chess Annual Report and Delegates Call are available for those who want to know more about what goes on, and what is presented, at the Delegates Meetings.

Annual Report:

2019 Delegates Call:


  1. “GM Illia Nyzhnyk leads the 2019 U.S. Open at 7/9 after a win last night over IM Daniel Fernandez. Eleven players (!) are a half-point behind at 6.5/9…”

    7/8 and 6.5/8? …. Unless US Open is now a 10 round tournament…

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