GM Ruifeng Li Wins 12th Philadelphia Open

Ruifeng Li at the US Junior Championships. Photo: Austin Fuller
GM Ruifeng Li won the 12th annual Philadelphia Open held from March 28 to April 1 at the Philadelphia Marriott Downtown.  His undefeated score of 7-2 was good for $6879.  He also paired with his sister Rachael who tied for third in the Under 1800 section to tie for first mixed doubles which gave each of the Li siblings another $358.25.  The slightly odd dollar amounts are the result of a based-on prize fund.  The tournament drew 573 players which was almost enough to cover the entire $80,000 in based on prizes. We had more than the requisite number of 20 FIDE rated foreign players, but lacked the 10 foreign titled (GM, IM, WGM, WIM) needed to avoid the requirements that to make a norm, a US player must face at least four non-US opponents and a foreign player three.  Even with minimum guaranteed prizes for foreign players, we could not draw the required 10 foreign title holders.  Because of this, no norms were achieved.  IM Vignesh Panchanatham had a GM performance, FM Carissa Yip had a WGM performance and FM Andrew Hong had an IM performance, but none of the player played enough foreigners so there were no norms.  IM Christian Pedersen did have the required foreigners and was on course for a GM norm after leading the event for several rounds.  However, he needed a last round draw against Ruifeng Li and he lost that game and fell ½ point short. In the first round, most of the higher rated players dispatched their opponents.    There were a few notable draws as GM Alex Shabalov surrendered a draw to FM Arthur Guo and GM Andrey Gorovets drew with NM Jianwen Wong.  The big upset of the round was FM Eugene Yanayt defeating IM John Daniel Bryant when Bryant missed a tactic.
[pgn][Event "12th Philadelphia Open"]
[Site "Philadelphia"]
[Date "2018.03.28"]
[Round "1"]
[White "Yanayt, Eugene"]
[Black "Bryant, John Daniel"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "E10"]
[WhiteElo "2127"]
[BlackElo "2461"]
[PlyCount "72"]
[EventDate "2018.03.??"]
[EventRounds "9"]
[EventCountry "USA"]
[SourceDate "2015.04.04"]
[TimeControl "5400+30"]1. d4 e6 2. c4 Nf6 3. Nf3 d5 4. g3 Be7 5. Bg2 O-O 6. O-O c6 7. Qc2 b6 8. Rd1
Bb7 9. Nc3 Nbd7 10. e4 dxc4 11. a4 Rc8 12. Nd2 Ba6 13. Bf1 Qe8 14. Nxc4 Bxc4
15. Bxc4 e5 16. Ba6 Rd8 17. d5 Nb8 18. Be2 h6 19. Be3 Bb4 20. Na2 Bd6 21. a5
cxd5 22. exd5 Nbd7 23. axb6 axb6 24. Bb5 Qe7 25. Nc3 Bc5 26. Bxc5 Qxc5 27. d6
e4 28. b4 Qe5 29. Bc6 Rfe8 30. Ra7 Re6 31. Nxe4 Nxe4 32. Bxd7 Rxd6 33. Re1 Rd4
34. Bc6 Rc8 35. Bxe4 Qb8 36. Qa2 Rf8 1-0[/pgn]
There were no significant upsets in round two on the top boards, but many of the top players gave up draws.  Second seeded GM Jianchao Zhao drew with FM Andrew Hong while third seeded GM Ruifeng Li drew with IM Alexander Katz.  IM John Michael Burke drew with IM Venkat Saravanam and GM Gil Popilski drew with FM Hans Niemann.  Top seeded GM Sam Sevian defeated WIM Jennifer Yu to remain at a perfect 2-0. In round three GM Li again drew, this time with IM Vignesh Panchanatham.  Ten players entered round 3 with perfect scores, but due to a draw only four would emerge:  GMs Sam Sevian defeated IM Praveen Balakrishnan, GM Sergei Azarov defeated IM Christian Pedersen, GM Alexander Stripunsky defeated IM Atulya Shetty and the upset on the top board was FM Balaji Daggupati defeating IM Andrew Tang.  Daggupati finds a nice combination that nets him a winning advantage.

Daggupati vs. IM Tang

White to move and win.

Show Solution
[pgn][Event "?"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "????.??.??"]
[Round "?"]
[White "Daggupati"]
[Black "Tang"]
[Result "1-0"]
[SetUp "1"]
[FEN "3rr1k1/R2b1pb1/5qpp/1p1Bp3/n3P3/2P1NN2/4QPPP/4R1K1 w - - 0 26"]
[PlyCount "5"]26. Rxd7 Nxc3 (26... Rxd7 {is necessary, but White has} 27. Qxb5 Nb6 28. Bc6 {
with a clear advantage.}) 27. Qd3 Rxd7 28. Qxc3 {with a winning advantage for
White.} 1-0[/pgn]
With only four perfect scores remaining, round 4 promised to be quite tense.  Sevian sacrificed an exchange against Stripunsky and had an edge, but Stripunsky was able to hold in an 87 move marathon.  Azarov defeated Daggupati to emerge as the only perfect score at 4-0.  GM Li drew his third consecutive game this time against FM Alexandre Kretchetov.  He looked as though he was falling out of contention as he stood at 2 ½ out of 4.
[pgn][Event "12th Philadelphia Open"]
[Site "Philadelphia"]
[Date "2018.03.30"]
[Round "4.1"]
[White "Stripunsky, Alexander"]
[Black "Sevian, Samuel"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "A00"]
[WhiteElo "2538"]
[BlackElo "2619"]
[PlyCount "174"]
[EventDate "2018.03.??"]
[EventRounds "9"]
[EventCountry "USA"]
[SourceDate "2015.04.04"]
[TimeControl "5400+30"]
[WhiteClock "0:00:21"]
[BlackClock "0:00:08"]1. g3 {0} g6 {0} 2. Bg2 {0} Bg7 {0} 3. e4 {0} c5 {0} 4. Ne2 {0} Nc6 {0} 5. c3 {
0} e5 {0} 6. d3 {0} Nge7 {0} 7. Be3 {0} b6 {0} 8. O-O {0} O-O {0} 9. Qa4 {253}
Bb7 {330} 10. c4 {451} Nd4 {751} 11. Nbc3 {153} f5 {241} 12. f3 {694} h6 {300}
13. Bd2 {167} Nec6 {161} 14. Nxd4 {289} Nxd4 {66} 15. Rae1 {403} f4 {427} 16.
Ne2 {554} Ne6 {164} 17. Qd1 {363} Rf7 {103} 18. Bc3 {99} Qg5 {439} 19. gxf4 {
347} Nxf4 {528} 20. Nxf4 {33} Rxf4 {472} 21. Bd2 {714} Qh5 {46} 22. Re2 {202}
Rh4 {81} 23. Be1 {56} Rf4 {458} 24. Bg3 {53} Rf7 {34} 25. Rff2 {355} g5 {157}
26. Qf1 {116} Raf8 {42} 27. Re3 {207} Qg6 {54} 28. Bh3 {72} h5 {118} 29. Bf5 {
35} Rxf5 {290} 30. exf5 {30} Rxf5 {30} 31. h3 {172} d6 {193} 32. Qe2 {282} Bh6
{85} 33. Re4 {77} Rf7 34. Kg2 Kh7 {60} 35. b3 {60} Qf5 {114} 36. Rf1 {39} Rg7 {
257} 37. Rh1 {33} Rg6 {68} 38. Rf1 {135} Bc6 {55} 39. Rh1 {32} Kg8 {292} 40. a3
{50} Kh7 {95} 41. b4 {0} Kg7 {0} 42. b5 {0} Bb7 {0} 43. Rf1 {0} Kh7 {0} 44. a4
{0} Qd7 {0} 45. Kh2 {0} Kg8 {0} 46. Qg2 {0} Bg7 {0} 47. Be1 {0} d5 {0} 48. Rh4
{0} dxc4 {0} 49. dxc4 {0} e4 50. Rxh5 exf3 {0} 51. Qg4 {52} Qe7 {161} 52. Bg3 {
61} Qe4 {263} 53. Qxe4 {102} Bxe4 {30} 54. Bb8 {33} Bd4 {32} 55. Kg3 {34} Rg7 {
50} 56. Rxf3 {57} Bxf3 {30} 57. Kxf3 Bf6 {36} 58. Kg4 {62} Rb7 {30} 59. Bg3 {44
} Kg7 {30} 60. Kf5 {92} Re7 {30} 61. Bd6 {62} Rf7 {33} 62. Ke6 {33} Rb7 {42}
63. Bf8+ {30} Kxf8 {30} 64. Kxf6 {30} Rf7+ {30} 65. Kxg5 {30} Kg7 {30} 66. Rh4
{36} Rf3 {30} 67. Re4 {30} Rg3+ {30} 68. Kf5 {30} Kf7 {30} 69. h4 {30} Ra3 {30}
70. h5 {30} Rxa4 {30} 71. h6 {36} Ra1 {30} 72. Rh4 {30} Kg8 {30} 73. h7+ {30}
Kh8 {30} 74. Ke5 {30} Rd1 {30} 75. Rf4 {42} Rd7 {30} 76. Ke6 {40} Rd4 {30} 77.
Rf8+ {53} Kxh7 {30} 78. Rf7+ {30} Kg6 {30} 79. Rxa7 {30} Rxc4 {30} 80. Rb7 {30}
Rb4 {34} 81. Rxb6 {30} c4 {30} 82. Kd5+ {53} Kf7 {30} 83. Kc5 {30} Rb1 {30} 84.
Kxc4 {30} Ke7 {30} 85. Rc6 {31} Rc1+ {30} 86. Kb4 {30} Rxc6 {30} 87. bxc6 {30}
Kd6 {30} 1/2-1/2[/pgn]
As the highest rated 3 ½ pointer, Sevian was still able to occupy board 1 against Azarov who was the only 4-0.  Sevian won to re-take the lead.  There were 3 other players who entered the round at 3 ½ points: GM Stripunsky, IM Nicholas Checa and IM Joshua Sheng.  Checa and Stripunsky drew on board two and Sheng was paired “down” to GM Jianchao Zhao who had taken a half point bye in round 3 and drawn with Hong in round 2.  Zhao did beat Shen to join the four point scoregroup.  This left Sevian as the only player at 4 ½ out of 5 being chased by GMs Zhao, Azarov, & Stripunsky, and IMs Checa & Pedersen and FM Hong all at 4-1.   GM Li did win this round against FM Christopher Yu-Shuo Shen and now stood at 3 ½, but would clearly have some work to do to join the leaders.
[pgn][Event "12th Philadelphia Open"]
[Site "Philadelphia"]
[Date "2018.03.30"]
[Round "5.1"]
[White "Sevian, Samuel"]
[Black "Azarov, Sergei"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "C93"]
[WhiteElo "2619"]
[BlackElo "2570"]
[PlyCount "91"]
[EventDate "2018.03.??"]
[EventRounds "9"]
[EventCountry "USA"]
[SourceDate "2015.04.04"]
[TimeControl "5400+30"]
[WhiteClock "0:11:42"]
[BlackClock "0:06:36"]1. e4 {0} e5 {0} 2. Nf3 {0} Nc6 {0} 3. Bb5 {0} a6 {0} 4. Ba4 {0} Nf6 {0} 5. O-O
{0} Be7 {0} 6. Re1 {0} b5 {0} 7. Bb3 {0} d6 {0} 8. c3 {0} O-O {0} 9. h3 {0} h6
{0} 10. d4 {0} Re8 {0} 11. Nbd2 {0} Bf8 {0} 12. Bc2 {0} Bb7 {0} 13. a3 {0} Qd7
{204} 14. b4 {497} d5 {959} 15. dxe5 {262} Nxe5 {302} 16. Nxe5 {35} Rxe5 {30}
17. Nf3 {1228} Re7 {736} 18. e5 {243} Ne4 {49} 19. Be3 {133} a5 {1694} 20. Bd4
{206} Ree8 {221} 21. Qd3 {450} g6 {155} 22. h4 {188} h5 {446} 23. Ng5 {111}
Nxg5 {204} 24. hxg5 {41} Qc6 {30} 25. Qe2 {313} Bc8 {441} 26. Bd3 {50} Bd7 {70}
27. f4 {352} Bg4 {103} 28. Bxb5 {91} Qe6 {40} 29. Qf2 {71} c6 {90} 30. Bd3 {179
} Bf5 {104} 31. Qc2 {103} Bxd3 {88} 32. Qxd3 {30} c5 {94} 33. bxc5 {136} Rac8 {
30} 34. Rf1 {444} Qf5 {142} 35. Qxf5 {466} gxf5 {30} 36. Rfb1 {44} Bxc5 {37}
37. Rb5 {58} Bxd4+ {74} 38. cxd4 {30} Rc4 {104} 39. Rd1 {70} Rc2 {91} 40. Rdb1
{87} Kg7 {31} 41. Rxd5 {128} h4 {0} 42. Rb7 {0} Rec8 {0} 43. e6 {0} h3 {0} 44.
Rxf7+ {0} Kg8 {0} 45. Kh2 {2} hxg2 {0} 46. Rc5 {30} 1-0[/pgn]
In round six the top two seeds met on board one and a relatively quick draw ensued between Zhou and Sevian.  IM Pedersen defeated GM Stripunsky to catch Sevian as the tournament leader, but Checa and Azarov drew to remain a half point back.  In round seven, Sevian would face Pedersen on board one as the only players at 5-1.  They were being chased by GMs Zhou, Li, Shabalov, Azarov & Popilski and IMs Checa, Bryant, David Brodsky, Panchanatham and NM Jianwen Wong.
[pgn][Event "12th Philadelphia Open"]
[Site "Philadelphia"]
[Date "2018.03.31"]
[Round "6.3"]
[White "Stripunsky, Alexander"]
[Black "Pedersen, Christian Kyndel"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "D05"]
[WhiteElo "2538"]
[BlackElo "2405"]
[PlyCount "78"]
[EventDate "2018.03.??"]
[EventRounds "9"]
[EventCountry "USA"]
[SourceDate "2015.04.04"]1. d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 e6 3. e3 c5 4. Bd3 d5 5. c3 Nc6 6. Nbd2 Bd6 7. dxc5 Bxc5 8. b4
Bd6 9. O-O O-O 10. a3 e5 11. e4 Ne7 12. Re1 Bg4 13. exd5 Nexd5 14. c4 Nf4 15.
Ne4 Bxb4 16. Nxf6+ gxf6 17. Bxh7+ Kxh7 18. Qxd8 Rfxd8 19. axb4 Nd3 20. Re2 Nxb4
21. Ba3 Bxf3 22. gxf3 Nc6 23. Bc5 f5 24. Rea2 a6 25. Rb1 Rd7 26. Rab2 Rc8 27.
f4 Na5 28. Be3 exf4 29. Bxf4 Rxc4 30. Be3 f4 31. Bb6 Nc6 32. Rb3 Ne5 33. Rh3+
Kg6 34. Kh1 f6 35. Rh8 Kf5 36. h4 f3 37. Rg1 Rg4 38. Rc1 Rg2 39. h5 Rdg7 0-1[/pgn]
Round seven saw Pedersen upset his second GM in a row as Pedersen played the black pieces and beat Sevian to emerge as the clear tournament leader at 6-1.  Of the remaining 10 players, there were five GMs.  The five GMs played the IMs and the GMs scored quite well with the lone exception being GM Shabalov drew with IM Panchanatham.  The other four GMs won as GM Zhou defeated IM Checa, GM Li beat IM Bryant, GM Azarov defeated NM Wong and GM Popilski beat IM Brodsky.
[pgn][Event "12th Philadelphia Open"]
[Site "Philadelphia"]
[Date "2018.03.31"]
[Round "7.1"]
[White "Sevian, Samuel"]
[Black "Pedersen, Christian Kyndel"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "B90"]
[WhiteElo "2619"]
[BlackElo "2405"]
[PlyCount "110"]
[EventDate "2018.03.??"]
[EventRounds "9"]
[EventCountry "USA"]
[SourceDate "2015.04.04"]1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. h3 e6 7. g4 h6 8. Bg2
Nc6 9. Be3 Be7 10. O-O O-O 11. f4 Nd7 12. Nb3 Rb8 13. a4 Na5 14. Nxa5 Qxa5 15.
Qd2 Qc7 16. Bf2 Nb6 17. h4 Nc4 18. Qc1 b5 19. axb5 axb5 20. g5 hxg5 21. hxg5 b4
22. Ne2 g6 23. Ng3 Bb7 24. b3 Nb6 25. Ra7 d5 26. Bd4 Bc5 27. Qe3 Rfc8 28. Ne2
dxe4 29. Bxc5 Qxc5 30. Qxc5 Rxc5 31. Nd4 Nc8 32. Ra4 Bd5 33. Ra6 Ne7 34. Ra7
Nf5 35. Nxf5 gxf5 36. Rf2 Rbc8 37. Ra2 Kg7 38. Bf1 Rc3 39. Rh2 Rg3+ 40. Rg2 Rf3
41. Ra4 Rb8 42. Rf2 e3 43. Rxf3 Bxf3 44. Ra1 e2 45. Bg2 Bxg2 46. Kxg2 Rd8 47.
Re1 Rd2 48. Kf2 Rxc2 49. Ra1 Rb2 50. Ra7 Rxb3 51. Kxe2 Rb1 52. Kd2 b3 53. Kc3
b2 54. Rb7 Rf1 55. Rxb2 Rxf4 0-1[/pgn]
In round 8, the top two boards ended in draws, but that doesn’t tell the full story.  On board one, Pedersen had a clear edge against Popilsky and was pressing to beat his third consecutive GM.  However, Popilski did eventually hold the draw.  Board two was much more peaceful as Zhou and Li drew relatively quickly.  On board four Shabalov was a ½ point back of Azarov but did win to stay within striking distance of the tournament leaders.  There were three other games involving players at 5-2 and all were somewhat surprises. IM Vignesh Panchanatham defeated GM Sevian.  I have seen Sevian play in quite a few CCA swisses and do not ever recall him losing two games in a row to non-GM opponents!  On the other two boards, FM Hong drew with GM Stripunsky and FM Carissa Yip drew with IM Burke.
[pgn][Event "12th Philadelphia Open"]
[Site "Philadelphia"]
[Date "2018.04.01"]
[Round "8.4"]
[White "Panchanatham, Vignesh"]
[Black "Sevian, Samuel"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "A61"]
[WhiteElo "2384"]
[BlackElo "2619"]
[PlyCount "81"]
[EventDate "2018.03.??"]
[EventRounds "9"]
[EventCountry "USA"]
[SourceDate "2015.04.04"]1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 c5 3. d5 e6 4. Nc3 exd5 5. cxd5 d6 6. Nf3 g6 7. Bf4 a6 8. a4
Bg7 9. h3 O-O 10. e3 Ne8 11. Be2 Nd7 12. O-O Ne5 13. a5 Nxf3+ 14. Bxf3 Bd7 15.
Qb3 Rb8 16. Qb6 Qxb6 17. axb6 f5 18. Ra5 Rc8 19. Rfa1 Bf6 20. R5a3 Be5 21. Bh6
Rf7 22. Be2 Nf6 23. Bc4 Ne4 24. Bxa6 bxa6 25. Rxa6 Re8 26. Ra8 Bc8 27. Nxe4
fxe4 28. R1a7 c4 29. b7 Rxb7 30. Rxb7 Bxb7 31. Rxe8+ Kf7 32. Rb8 Bxd5 33. Kf1
Bc6 34. Bf4 Bxf4 35. exf4 d5 36. Rb6 Ba4 37. Rd6 Bb3 38. Ke1 g5 39. Rxd5 c3 40.
Rf5+ Ke6 41. Re5+ 1-0[/pgn]
The last round would feature a number of interesting games.  Pedersen led the event at 6 ½ and just needed a draw for a GM norm.  Five players trailed Pedersen by a half point and could tie for first if Pedersen drew or lost.  The players at 6-2 were GMs Zhou, Li, Shabalov & Popilski and IM Panchanatham.  Li defeated Pedersen to secure at least a tie for first place and deny Pedersen the GM norm.  The winners of the Panchanatham – Zhou or the Popilski – Shabalov  games could catch Li and tie for first, but both games ended in draws so all four players would tie for second with Pedersen and FM Yip who defeated GM Stripunsky in the last round to reach 6 ½ points.  The second place winners (Panchanatham and Yip brought in the Under 2400 prizes) all received $1719.67
[pgn][Event "12th Philadelphia Open"]
[Site "Philadelphia"]
[Date "2018.04.01"]
[Round "9.1"]
[White "Li, Ruifeng"]
[Black "Pedersen, Christian Kyndel"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "B26"]
[WhiteElo "2585"]
[BlackElo "2405"]
[PlyCount "71"]
[EventDate "2018.03.??"]
[EventRounds "9"]
[EventCountry "USA"]
[SourceDate "2015.04.04"]
[TimeControl "5400+30"]
[WhiteClock "1:03:13"]
[BlackClock "0:05:47"]1. e4 {0} c5 {0} 2. Nc3 {0} d6 {0} 3. g3 {0} Nc6 {0} 4. Bg2 {0} g6 {0} 5. d3 {0
} Bg7 {0} 6. Be3 {0} e6 {0} 7. Qd2 {0} Nd4 {0} 8. Nce2 {0} h6 {416} 9. c3 {0}
Nc6 {36} 10. h3 {0} Nge7 {66} 11. Nf3 {0} b6 {190} 12. O-O {0} Bb7 {593} 13. d4
{0} Na5 {148} 14. Qc2 {0} O-O {117} 15. Rad1 {73} Nc4 {250} 16. Bc1 {85} cxd4 {
204} 17. Nfxd4 {81} a6 {122} 18. b3 {72} Na5 {38} 19. f4 {201} Nec6 {1117} 20.
Nxc6 {304} Bxc6 {41} 21. Ba3 {71} Nb7 {59} 22. Nd4 {268} Bxd4+ {331} 23. Rxd4 {
179} Qc7 {63} 24. Qd2 {129} Rfd8 {223} 25. f5 {177} Kh7 {180} 26. Bc1 {392} g5
{46} 27. fxe6 {34} fxe6 {31} 28. Rf6 {30} e5 {464} 29. Qf2 {67} Rd7 {855} 30.
Qf5+ {99} Kg8 {30} 31. Qe6+ {56} Kh8 {142} 32. Rxh6+ {202} Rh7 {30} 33. Bxg5 {
30} Rxh6 {123} 34. Qxh6+ {30} Qh7 {36} 35. Qe6 {77} Qd7 {182} 36. Qg6 1-0[/pgn]
The section winners were:
Under 2200

Oscar Tan, 6 ½ - ½, $4777

Under 2000

Matthew Martello & Nicole Zlotchevsky, 6-1, $3583

Under 1800

Alain Diaz, 7-0, $4777

Under 1600

Brice Huang & Malcolm Adams, Max Hao, 6-1, $2866.50

Under 1400

Xiang Cui, 6 ½ -1/2, $1000 (prize limited due to having a provisional rating)

Timothy Callahan, 6-1 $2866

Under 1100

Godwin Wilson-Livingstone, Jason Cheung & Mahmoud Sobh, 6-1, $726.34

Linh My Do, 6-1, $300 (prize limited due to being unrated)

Mixed Doubles

Rachael Li/GM Ruifeng Li and Nikki Khmelnitsky/GM Sergei Azarov, 10 ½ - 3 ½, $716.50 each team

Blitz Tournament

Akshay Malhotra 7 ½ - ½. $210.

NTD David Hater directed for Continental Chess Association assisted by Bill Goichberg, Harold Stenzel, Brian Yang, Jabari McGreen, Bob Messenger, Andy Rea and Harold Scott.

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