Ruifeng Li Wins Philadelphia Open


Ruifeng Li, here pictured against Luke Harmon at the US Chess School

IM Ruifeng Li scored an undefeated 7-2 at the 10th Annual Philadelphia Open tying for first and winning the $200 first place tiebreak bonus for a total of $5415.  Li tied with GM Aleksandar Indjic who he defeated in round 5.  Indjic scored 3 ½ out of his last 4 games to catch Li who “coasted in” with four draws.  Even though Li made four draws in the last four rounds, many of them were fighting draws and Li had opportunities to win.  His games were 42, 45, 32 moves and it was only in the last round that he played a 15 move draw.

Here is Li’s game against his co-champion, GM Aleksandar Indjic:

Li played four GMs in this tournament scoring two wins and two draws.  In doing so, preliminary calculations are that he crossed 2500 FIDE for the first time and made his first GM norm.  Once he achieves his 2nd and 3rd norms, he will receive the title. Li is only fourteen years old and he is currently the highest rated 14 year old in the USA.  He is also ranked number 7 in the world for Under age 16.  He has been rapidly improving having gained nearly 100 points in the last year and recently crossing 2600 USCF.  Li received the IM title last year and appears on the verge of earning the GM title.  Ruifeng played the majority of his games on board one.  He liked the DGT and Monroi broadcasts and the quality provided to the top players.  One of the interesting things about GM norms in Swisses is that the math changes every round.  Li had already played the necessary four foreign players going into the last round.  Had Li been paired up in the last round, he could have lost and still made the GM norm.  Because he was paired down to FM Craig Hilby who was also having a breakout tournament performance, the average rating of his opponents dropped slightly and he needed a draw.  I suspect that was part of the motivation (along with $5000) to make a quick draw in the last round!  Ruifeng often comes to tournaments with his younger sister Rachael and they form a mixed doubles team.  Sometimes she scores more points in her class section than he does!  This time he had a different mixed doubles partner and didn’t win any mixed doubles prize.  Still, I think the $5000 and GM norm made up for it!

GM Aleksandar Indjic also tied for first.  Indjic played fighting chess through the tournaments and his six wins were the most victories of anybody in the tournament.  Indjic lost only to Li and he drew Hilby and GM Sam Sevian,.  Indjic defeated GM Ioan Chirila and IMs Farai Mandizha, and Michael Mulyar.  Here is Indjic’s win over GM Chirila.

Craig Hilby tied for third with 6 1/2 points.  He made an IM norm with a round to spare!  This is his second IM norm as he made an IM norm last year at the World Open.  As noted, he drew both of the champions.  He also drew GMs Alexander Fishbein and Sandro Pozo Vera.  His significant wins were back to back wins over IMs Awonder Liang and Zurab Javakhadze in rounds seven and eight.  Here he annotates his round 8 win over Javakhadze.

Hilby was joined in the third thru seventh place tie with GMs Giorgi Margvelashvili, Denis Kadric, Ioan Chirila, and David Berczes.  Hilby took the first Under 2400 prize of $1900 and the other GMs won $1045 each.

Seventh through ninth was split between GM Sam Sevian, IM Aleksandr Ostrovskiy and FM Christopher Wu.  Ostrovskiy and Wu shared 2nd Under 2400 and won $712.50 each while Sevian took the $475 for 7th place.

There were a total of 516 players in seven sections.  The Open section was 9 rounds while the class sections were 7 rounds.  The winners of the class sections were:

Under 2200         Andrew Hoy & William Del Castillio           6 points                                $3563

Under 2000         Bryan Weisz                                                       6 ½ points            $4750

Under 1800         Alan Zhang, Mark Dubnoff, Elliott Wu     6 points                                $2755

Under 1600         Johnson Bolorunduro                                    6 ½ points            $1500    Max prize provisional

Under 1400         Jason Zipfel                                                        6 points                                $1500    Max prize provisional

Yanal Al Sabbagh                                                                              $2775

Under 1100         Alexander Vekker                                           6 ½ points            $500 Max prize provisional

Mixed Double   Tuguldur Tsogtbayar                                       10 ½ points         $950 for the team

& Amarjargal Ganbaatar

Blitz                        IM Yaacov Norowitz                                        7 ½ points            $230

The tournament was directed by Bill Goichberg assisted by David Hater, Brian Yang, Harold Stenzel, Bob Messenger, Jabari McGreen and Andy Rea for the directing duties and Brenda Goichberg for administration and registration duties.

Complete tournament standings and most of the Open section games can be found at

Previous Continental Chess tournaments can be found at the Continental Chess website at


  1. Good report by Dave, and another comprehensive annotation by young Craig Hilby, who won a Chess Journalists award for one of his thorough dissections two years ago. He swears he does this for all his games, not just those that are published! (I assume that in the note to White’s 20th, “22.c5 $11” is a typo that will be corrected.)

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