Four Tie for First, and Four Norms Earned at 2023 U.S. Masters in Charlotte

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Antipov
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The champion, GM Mikhail Antipov (courtesy Daniel Schipper/CCC)

 

202 players competed in Charlotte, NC, for the 2023 U.S. Masters organized by the Charlotte Chess Center. After nine rounds of 90+30 FIDE rated chess, four players ended up tied for first on 7/9: GM Mikhail Antipov, IM Gleb Dudin, IM Justin Wang, and IM Bryce Tiglon. Tiglon earned a GM norm for his performance, as well, finishing ahead of 39 of the 40 grandmasters competing. Full standings are available here.

 

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Belenkaya
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WGM Dina Belenkaya was one of many famous faces in Charlotte (courtesy David Llada)

 

While Antipov won the trophy via tiebreaks (and a $300 bonus to boot), it was Wang who was the first to top the standings, having requested a last-round bye and just having to wait to see who (if anybody) could catch up. He was in great form all weekend, outplaying an experienced grandmaster on the white side of the King's Indian Defense and converting the rook endgame in professional fashion:

 

 

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Antipov
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The trophy-winner, GM Mikhail Antipov (courtesy Daniel Schipper/CCC)

 

Antipov caught up to Wang thanks to a last-round win over GM Harsha Bharathakoti, capping off a nice event featuring some crushing play including this crushing Queen's Gambit:

 

 

Dudin was next up to join the four-way tie, thanks to this nice win over a strong IM.

 

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IM Dudin
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Co-Champion IM Gleb Dudin, from Hungary (courtesy David Llada)

 

 

Finally, Tiglon put on a start-to-finish clinic against GM Titas Stremavicius in the Sveshnikov.

 

 

Earning the top U2450 prize (using FIDE ratings), IM Jason (not Justin) Wang earned a GM norm for his performance as well. The top U2350 prize went to FM Brewington Hardaway, who also had two more reasons to celebrate.

 

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Hardaway
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FM Brewington Hardaway broke the 2400 barrier and earned a GM norm in the process (courtesy Daniel Schipper/CCC)

 

First, he earned a GM norm and, second, crossed 2400 for the first time. With three IM norms under his belt, Hardaway can expect an official title upgrade in the future. Below are Wang's victory over one of the co-victors and two of Hardaway's highlights:

 

 

 

 

The top U2250 prize went to Graham Horobetz and the top U2150 went to Gunnar Andersen.

 

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Florida's Gunnar Andersen won the top U2150 prize as the only U2150 player to finish with a positive score (courtesy David Llada)

 

The final norm was won by IM Seth Homa, who was destined to have a good tournament from the start, holding GM Awonder Liang to a draw in the first round in a game that he came oh so close to winning:

 

 

 

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Homa
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Michigan FM Seth Homa earned an IM norm for his performance (courtesy David Llada)

 

Finally, IM Brian Escalante crossed 2500 for the first time. Like Hardaway, Escalante has earned his requisite norms and can enjoy an unofficial "Elect" title if he so chooses. Here's a game that shows off the nerve and resilience that seasoned French Defense players have to build up:

 

 

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Finegold
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The maestro himself, GM Ben Finegold, added color to the event with commentary all weekend (courtesy David Llada)

 

It was a full weekend once again in Charlotte, with GM Ben Finegold providing commentary and games all weekend for both Masters and NC Open participants. Final standings from all sections of the NC Open are available here.

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