Le Quang Liem Wins 2019 World Open

Before they squared off in an Armageddon game to determine who would take the championship title for the 2019 World Open, GMs Le Quang Liem and Jeffrey Xiong bantered about different moves they could have played against each other earlier in the day.

“He put a a lot of pressure and outplayed me quite nicely,” Xiong said of his Round 8 game against Le, which ended in a draw. “He was very close to winning but unfortunately I was able to save the game,” Xiong said.

[Event "47th Annual World Open"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2019.07.07"]
[Round "8.1"]
[White "Le, Quang Liem"]
[Black "Xiong, Jeffery"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "C65"]
[WhiteElo "2713"]
[BlackElo "2691"]
[PlyCount "99"]
[EventDate "2019.??.??"]

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. d3 Ne7 5. O-O c6 6. Ba4 Ng6 7. Re1 Bc5 8. c3
d6 9. Nbd2 O-O 10. Nf1 Bb6 11. Ng3 d5 12. Bb3 dxe4 13. Nxe4 Nxe4 14. dxe4 h6
15. Qxd8 Rxd8 16. h4 Bg4 17. Nh2 Bc8 18. Nf3 Bg4 19. Nh2 Bc8 20. g3 Rd3 21. Kf1
Bh3+ 22. Ke2 Rad8 23. a4 a5 24. Bc4 R3d7 25. Be3 Bxe3 26. Kxe3 Nf8 27. Nf3 Re8
28. Red1 Bg4 29. Rxd7 Nxd7 30. Nd2 Nb6 31. f3 Bd7 32. b4 Ra8 33. bxa5 Rxa5 34.
Rb1 Nxa4 35. Rxb7 Be8 36. Rb8 Kf8 37. Bd3 Nxc3 38. Nc4 Ra7 39. Nd6 Re7 40. h5
Re6 41. Nf5 Nb5 42. Bc4 Rf6 43. f4 Nd6 44. Nxd6 Rxd6 45. fxe5 Rd7 46. e6 fxe6
47. Bxe6 Ra7 48. g4 Ke7 49. Bb3 Ra5 50. Bc4 1/2-1/2

The two GMs drew again in a late-night  Armageddon game that delighted dozens of players and spectators who traveled from near and far to attend the 47th annual World Open over the Fourth of July weekend. Video of the Armageddon game comes courtesy of Daaim Shabazz. https://youtu.be/M1uYIcj4CKY

[Event "47th Annual World Open Playoff"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2019.07.07"]
[White "Xiong, Jeffery"]
[Black "Le, Quang Liem"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "A22"]
[WhiteElo "2691"]
[BlackElo "2713"]
[PlyCount "71"]
[EventDate "2019.??.??"]

1. c4 e5 2. Nc3 Nf6 3. e3 Nc6 4. g4 h6 5. Bg2 Bb4 6. h3 Bxc3 7. bxc3 e4 8. f3
Qe7 9. Qc2 exf3 10. Nxf3 d6 11. d3 Ne5 12. Nxe5 dxe5 13. a4 Qe6 14. Ba3 e4 15.
O-O Bd7 16. d4 Qxc4 17. Rxf6 gxf6 18. Qxe4+ Qe6 19. Qxb7 Rc8 20. Rf1 h5 21. g5
Rg8 22. h4 fxg5 23. e4 gxh4 24. Rf5 Bc6 25. Qb4 Rxg2+ 26. Kf1 f6 27. d5 Qd6 28.
Kxg2 Qxb4 29. Bxb4 Bxa4 30. Rxf6 c5 31. Ba5 Bc2 32. Kf3 h3 33. Rh6 h2 34. Re6+
Kd7 35. Kg2 Re8 36. Rxe8 1/2-1/2

Only this time — based on Armageddon rules that grant a victory to the player with the black pieces in the case of a draw – the draw meant a victory for Le, which gave Le the title – and an extra $500 on top of the $15,000 both players each won. “It is really special for me to win this tournament at my third attempt,” Le said. “The last two years – 2017 and 2018 – I also played quite well, but missed my chances at the end." “The field was very strong this year, so I am very happy that I played decent chess and added one more coveted title to my resume. “ Le said the critical game for him was his Round 7 win over Illia Nyzhnyk, a four-time winner of the World Open who appeared to be on track to win again as the only player with 5-and-a-half points by Round 6. “Illia was leading the tournament by half a point after round 6. I managed to put some pressure, and luckily Illia committed a few mistakes that allowed me to win,” Le said. “It was probably one of my toughest games in this tournament, along with the draw against Jeffery Xiong.”

[Event "47th Annual World Open"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2019.07.06"]
[Round "7.1"]
[White "Le, Quang Liem"]
[Black "Nyzhnyk, Illia"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "C42"]
[WhiteElo "2713"]
[BlackElo "2657"]
[PlyCount "107"]
[EventDate "2019.??.??"]

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. Nxe5 d6 4. Nf3 Nxe4 5. d4 d5 6. Bd3 Bd6 7. O-O O-O 8. c4
c6 9. Nc3 Nxc3 10. bxc3 dxc4 11. Bxc4 Bf5 12. Re1 Nd7 13. Bg5 Qa5 14. Nh4 Nb6
15. Bb3 Be6 16. Bd2 Bc4 17. Qg4 g6 18. Nf3 Qd5 19. Bh6 Rfe8 20. Nd2 Bxb3 21.
axb3 f5 22. Qh4 Rxe1+ 23. Rxe1 Qf7 24. c4 Re8 25. Rxe8+ Qxe8 26. Bf4 Be7 27.
Qg3 Nd7 28. Qe3 Kf7 29. Nf3 Bf6 30. Be5 Qe7 31. h3 c5 32. Qh6 Nxe5 33. dxe5
Bxe5 34. Qxh7+ Bg7 35. h4 Qf6 36. h5 gxh5 37. Qxh5+ Qg6 38. Qh2 Qf6 39. Qb8 Qb6
40. Qf4 Qf6 41. g3 b6 42. Nh4 Ke6 43. Qc7 Qe5 44. Qc6+ Kf7 45. Qg6+ Kf8 46.
Qxf5+ Qxf5 47. Nxf5 Bf6 48. Kg2 a6 49. Kf3 Kf7 50. Ke4 Ke6 51. f4 b5 52. Ne3
Bd4 53. Nd5 Kd6 54. g4 1-0

Xiong, 18, still accomplished an impressive feat. At age 18, Xiong became one of the youngest players ever to win first place in the World Open. (GM John Fedorowicz, for example, was also 18 when he won with 8 out of 9 points in 1977.  GM Hikaru Nakamura was 19 when he won in 2007.) Xiong’s father, Wayne Xiong, said he had “no doubt” that his son – the 2016 World Junior Chess Champion – would one day win the World Open. He encourages parents to believe in their kids. “Your kids have talent,” Xiong said. “It may not be in chess. It may be something else. But every kid is precious. Just believe in your kid.” And invest in them, too, Xiong adds. “Coaching is very important,” says the elder Xiong, who along with his wife owns a financial advising firm. “Sometimes parents want to do too much by themselves. This is a professional job. You may be a great engineer, a great scientist. But you are not a great chess coach. Being a chess coach takes experience.” The younger Xiong is coached by GM Vladimir Georgiev, of Chicago. If anyone harbors any skepticism about the value of coaches, consider the result of 14-year-old Guy Cardwell, who tied for first place with two others in the Under 1400 section and pocketed $4,666.67. Cardwell has been training for about a year under National Master David Bennett, of Washington, D.C., who is building a reputation as a producer of tournament talent. For instance, two of Bennett’s students, Zahir Muhammad and Jesse Webb, will represent D.C. in the upcoming Denver Tournament of High School Champions and the Barber Tournament of K-8 Champions, respectively, after having won qualifying events. “I think everyone benefits from a coach,” said Bennett, who competed in the Open Section. “No one is 100 percent objective and your coach can give you some sense of objectivity because when you’re deep in the game, you can get very subjective.” Bennett’s protege, Cardwell, says he didn’t sense much difficulty in his section. “I don’t think I was ever in a losing position,” Cardwell said. “A lot of the games were drawn but my opponents didn’t find it.” Cardwell says he may one day want to write a philosophy book. Perhaps Cardwell could some inspiration from Gregory Nolan, a longtime World Open competitor who got nine different colored shirts – one for each round – printed out with the words “I PLAY CHESS THEREFORE, I EXIST.”
Gregory Nolan (photo Abdul-Alim)
“This is my credo. This is what I stand for,” explained Nolan, a retired custodian from the Central Bucks School District in Pennsylvania. Nolan finished with a respectable 5.5 points in the Under 2200 section. “I play chess because now I can afford to play chess as much as time and money will allow, which is a lot more than when I was working.” Nolan was far from the only player who donned a T-shirt that celebrated the cerebral. A US Chess writer spotted players wearing shirts emblazoned with words that ranged from “Genius Alert” to “Improve My Chess.” Others sported T-shirts from institutions such as Harvard University and the Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth. And a contingent of players from the Liguanea Chess Club in Jamaica showed up donning club shirts with the colors of the Jamaican flag. This year’s World Open drew about three dozen GMs and diverse top players from around the world. They included WGM Yaniet Marrero Lopez, the 2011 Women’s Cuban Chess Champion, who finished with 5.5 points in the open section and took home $3750 after tying for 1st for the top U2200 player in the open section. “This tournament has many strong players,” Lopez said. “It’s a great tournament to have good games.” Jamaal Abdul-Alim is a Chess Life contributor who resides in Washington, D.C. You can often find him at the chess tables in DuPont Circle. Follow him on Twitter @dcwriter360.

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