Okay, perhaps it’s by now passé to bring up GM Aleksandr Lenderman’s unbridled 2009 victory dance (ranking alongside Elaine’s famous Seinfeld gyrations) at the Copper State International, celebrating his third GM norm. But this Sunday night in Norfolk, Virginia, Lenderman did have another reason to cut loose, as he took clear first ahead of nearly 400 others at the U.S. Open.
Lenderman scored 8-1, drawing GM Evgeny Postny (Israel) in Round 4 and top-seeded Yaro Zherebukh in Round 5. In 2011, Lenderman had won clear first at the Orlando U.S. Open and tied for the top spot with five others in Indianapolis in 2009. So, just a broad smile was the reaction in Norfolk. This year, $200 of his $6,600 prize was a bonus for clear first. He defeated defending champ Alexander Shabalov in the penultimate round and teenaged GM Ruifeng Li in the final round.
Top prizes were a GM affair. With a win in a complicated, go-for-broke struggle, Erenburg knocked top seed, Yaro Zherebukh out of competition for a top-place finish. Erenburg thus set himself up for a last-round shot on board two against Nyzhnyk, who stopped the Virginia GM’s charge with a win of his own. Five tied for 2nd-6th at 7.5-1.5, and each took home $1,488: Illia Nyzhnyk (Missouri), Sergei Azarov (New York), Postny, Conrad Holt (Kansas), and Angel Arribas Lopez (Texas).
An event with a lot of class
With its $40,000 prize fund, the 2017 U.S. Open presented a lot of class prizes and other awards. Top Experts Jose Hernandez Padron (Florida), Dakota Dixon (Washington), Jiarong Teng (Wisconsin), and Sean Senft (Virginia) scored 6.5-2.5, and each took home $1,010. Pranav Prem (Virginia) and Steven Bellisario (Arizona) tied for top Class A, scoring 6-3 and winning $1,500 apiece. Jason Liang (Virginia) outdistanced all other Class B players by scoring 5.5-3.5. His reward was an unshared $2,000. Jershon Laimana (Virginia) won Top C with 5-4, winning $1,600.
Lee Bennett, a Navy Commander returning to tournament play after 30 years (!), had obviously knocked off any rust by the final round. He clinched a tie for 2nd-place Class C prize by rattling off this combination against 1900-veteran Guy Hoffman:
Lee Bennett vs. Guy Hoffman
White to move.
Asha Kumar and Owen Gold (both of North Carolina) won Top D with 4.5-4.5, winning $720 each. Andy Chang (Virginia) won Top Class E & Below with 4-5. He won $1,200. Victor Mosley (Virginia) won Top Unrated, pocketing $640.
Many veteran U.S. Open players were honored with certificates for their event longevity. Carl Haessler (Oregon) and former U.S. Chess president Ruth Haring (California) were recognized for playing in their 20th U.S. Open. U.S. Open Committee Chair Henry (Hal) Terrie (New Hampshire), who researched and announced these awards, himself participated in his 30th.
Although the U.S. Chess Scholastic Grand Prix is not part of the U.S. Open competition, 2017 winner Adamson Steiner (D.C.) was honored between rounds.
Lenderman and Carla Naylor (Virginia) teamed up to win the very first event at the 2017 U.S. Open Chess Championship beginning on the opening Saturday morning at 10:30 a.m., scoring a perfect 6-0 in the U.S. Open Bughouse (That’s “double blitz” to some of us old-timers) Tournament.
Next to start at noon was the Weekend Swiss. NM Matthew O’Brien (Pennsylvania.), and Experts Drew (he did with O’Brien in the final round) Hollinberger (Indiana), and Lewis Sanders (West Virginia) tied for 1-3 with 4.5 out of 5.
FM Bryce Tiglon (Washington) and NM Hongtao Liu (Connecticut) tied for first in the U.S. Open Blitz Championship.
As always, the Quads were popular. The Monday Quads attracted 10 sections. NM Daniel Brashaw (Iowa) swept the top Quad. Tuesdays Quads drew eight sections. NM Francisco Guadalupe II, who scored 6-3 in the Open despite playing three players who finished in the top 10, took the top Quad—all this while proud father Franc Guadalupe, as US Chess’ Director of Events, managed the entire nine days of chess and meetings. Joseph Jackson and Andrew Miller (both of Virginia) shared first in the top of seven sections on Wednesday. U.S. Chess Executive Board member and Expert Charles Unruh (Oklahoma) won the top of eight sections on Thursday. On Friday, Eli Karp (Louisiana), Daniel Herman (Colorado), and Kaden Pollard (New York) tied to win the top of six sections on the last day of Quads.
For a complete listing of pairings and results, go online to http://www.uschess.org/results/2017/usopen/.
The big merge
Organizers love it when a plan comes together. On Round 7 on Friday night, the centenarian Swiss finally became one big Open, with the three tributaries of the nightly nine-day schedule, the sped-up six-day schedule, and the frenetic four-day sprint merging into an ocean of chess.
And the results of Round 7 can be critical. Even a small lead at the top with only two rounds to go can be a meaningful cushion. GM Ruifeng Li (Texas) defeated IM Dmitry Gordievskiy (Russia) to take sole first place at 6.5-.5. Eight were hanging just off his pace at 5-1, including Lenderman, preparing for the sprint down the stretch. Nyzhnyk put away GM Priyadharshan Kannappan (Missouri) to join them. Hall-of-Famer Joel Benjamin remained undefeated, giving up only two draws, one with second-seed Nyzhnyk (Missouri). Indeed, at the end, Benjamin did finish well, in a tie for 7th-16th, with 7-2.
Another transition took place after Round 7. On the second Saturday and Sunday—Rounds 8 and 9—every player has had the opportunity of a night’s rest and can focus energy on a single game each day. Spectators too can also focus on the one big round a day.
Tournament direction that rose to the challenge
Chief Director and NTD Christopher Merli and his staff managed all the pairings, mergers and side events without a hiccup. The complete crew deserves to be mentioned: Anand Dommalapati, Jon Haskel, Brian Yang, Christina Schweiss, Andrew Rea, Calijun Luo, Jack Sceible, Jeffrey Forbes, Gregory Vaserstein, Maret Thorpe, Joe Yun, Kim Cramer, and Frank Johnson, who kept the DGT boards broadcasting to the internet—wirelessly! (It was a pleasure not to trip over taped-down wires.) Of course, Director of Events Guadalupe and Assistant Director of Events Boy Reed deserve credit as well.
Workshops, meetings and awards
Beginning on Wednesday at the U.S. Opens, dozens of committee workshops—ratings, senior chess, chess in education, finance, international events and many others—are open to all members. On the final weekend, delegates from across the nation meet with the U.S. Executive Board to consider changes and improvements.
At the traditional awards luncheon, U.S. Chess recognized many for their achievement and service. Wesley So (Minnesota) was honored as the Grandmaster of the Year. IM and WGM Nazi Palkidze (Nevada) was honored as Woman Chessplayer of the Year. The Distinguished Service Award is the highest award for a career of service to U.S. Chess. Ruth Haring (California) and Mike Atkins (Maryland) both accepted this well-deserved honor. Franklin County, Mississippi, received the Chess City of the Year award. The U.S. Chess Trust received the Gold Koltanowski Award for sponsorship. Two Sigma received the Silver Koltanowski Award.
As a result of the recent nationwide elections, two new EB members were seated: Hal Sprechman (New Jersey) and Lakshmana “Vish” Viswanath (Texas). Two veterans returned as a result of the voting—Allen Priest (Kentucky) and Mike Nietman (Wisconsin). They joined Mike Hoffpauir (Virginia), Anjelina Belakovskaia (Arizona), and Chuck Unruh (Oklahoma). On the final Sunday, the Executive Board elected Hoffpauir as president of the U.S. Chess Federation.
To the regret of all, U.S. Chess Executive Director Jean Hoffman had given her notice before the U.S. Open. The EB is in the process of a search for her replacement.
All the events at the U.S. Open and Delegates’ Meeting are sanctioned by U.S. Chess Federation. Next year’s U.S. Open will be held July 28-August 5 at the Madison Marriott West Hotel in Middleton, Wisconsin.