National Open: The Ninth World Champion’s Namesake Triumphs

2017 National Open Champion Tigran L. Petrosian (center) with Organizers Janelle and Alan Losoff. Photo: Tim Hanks
“Frankly speaking, I can’t imagine myself without chess; I am simply irrevocably hooked (smiles).” -Tigran L. Petrosian, “Interview with Tigran L. Petrosian”,
A very familiar name won clear 1st at this year’s National Open: Tigran Petrosian. The winner’s name mirrors the 9th World Champion, Tigran V. Petrosian, nicknamed “Iron Tigran”, a great player known for his nearly impenetrable defensive playing style and his brilliant positional exchange sacrifices. 
Chess Life and Review - May 1976. 9th World Champion Tigran Petrosian is in the top photo on the right.
In fact, the National Open Champion was named after the 9th World Champion.
“Yes, my father is a big fan of chess, so when Petrosian defeated Botvinnik, he decided to name his future son after the champion. Naturally, he also wanted me to become a chess player.” -Tigran L. Petrosian,  “Interview with Tigran L. Petrosian”,
In 1998, Petrosian’s name led to a particularly amusing coincidence: he was paired against another World Champion’s namesake, Mikhail Botvinnik, at the Under 16 Olympiads. Petrosian won the game, mirroring the historical Tigran Petrosian’s World Championship match victory against Mikhail Botvinnik.
[pgn][Event "Under-16 Olympiads"]
[Site "Istanbul, Turkey"]
[Date "1998.??.??"]
[Round "?"]
[White "Mikhail A Botvinnik"]
[Black "Tigran Levonovich Petrosian"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "D74"]
[PlyCount "82"]
[EventDate "1998.??.??"]1. d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 g6 3. c4 Bg7 4. g3 O-O 5. Bg2 d5 6. cxd5 Nxd5 7. O-O c6 8. e4
Nb6 9. h3 N8d7 10. Nc3 h6 11. Qe2 Kh7 12. Rd1 e6 13. e5 Nd5 14. Ne4 Qe7 15. b3
b5 16. Bb2 a5 17. Rdc1 Bb7 18. Nfd2 a4 19. Nd6 a3 20. Bc3 b4 21. Bxb4 Ba6 22.
Qg4 Nxb4 23. Bxc6 Nxc6 24. Rxc6 Nxe5 25. dxe5 Bxe5 26. Rd1 Bxd6 27. Ne4 Be5 28.
Nc5 Rfd8 29. Rxd8 Rxd8 30. Nxa6 Qb7 31. Qc4 Rd1+ 32. Kg2 Rd6 33. Nb4 Rd4 34.
Qc5 Rxb4 35. Kh2 Rb5 36. Qc4 Rb6 37. Rc8 Bg7 38. Qc2 Qd7 39. Rc7 Qd5 40. Rxf7
Rc6 41. Qe2 Rc1 0-1[/pgn]
Grandmaster Ruifeng Li, one of the most promising American prodigies. Photo: Tim Hanks
Petrosian won the National Open with an undefeated 5 points of 6. Along the way, he defeated the defending National Open Champion, GM Ruifeng Li, who is the top 15-year-old in the country by over 100 rating points.
[pgn][Event "National Open 2017"]
[Site "Las Vegas USA"]
[Date "2017.06.18"]
[Round "5.2"]
[White "Li, Ruifeng"]
[Black "Petrosian, TL."]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "C41"]
[WhiteElo "2571"]
[BlackElo "2595"]
[PlyCount "154"]
[EventDate "2017.06.16"]
[EventType "swiss"]
[EventRounds "6"]
[EventCountry "USA"]
[Source "Mark Crowther"]
[SourceDate "2017.06.19"]1. e4 d6 2. d4 Nf6 3. Nc3 e5 4. Nf3 Nbd7 5. Bc4 Be7 6. O-O O-O 7. Re1 c6 8. a4
a5 9. h3 h6 10. Ba2 Re8 11. Be3 Qc7 12. Qd2 exd4 13. Nxd4 Bf8 14. Nf5 Nc5 15.
Bxc5 dxc5 16. Rad1 Bxf5 17. exf5 Rad8 18. Qc1 Rxe1+ 19. Rxe1 Rd4 20. Qe3 Qd7
21. Qf3 Rd2 22. Nb1 Rd4 23. Nc3 Rb4 24. Rd1 Qe7 25. b3 Rd4 26. Bb1 Qe5 27. Rf1
c4 28. Qe3 Qxe3 29. fxe3 Rd8 30. bxc4 Bc5 31. Re1 Bb4 32. Rd1 Re8 33. Rd3 Bxc3
34. Rxc3 Ne4 35. Ra3 Nc5 36. Kf2 Re4 37. Ba2 Kf8 38. Bb3 Re8 39. Ra1 Rd8 40.
Kf3 Ke7 41. g4 Rd2 42. Rf1 f6 43. Kf4 Nd7 44. e4 Ne5 45. c5 Nd7 46. Ke3 Rh2 47.
Kd4 Ne5 48. Rb1 Kd8 49. Be6 Kc7 50. Rb3 Rxc2 51. Rg3 Rh2 52. Rb3 Rd2+ 53. Ke3
Rd1 54. Rc3 Ra1 55. Bb3 Rf1 56. Ke2 Rh1 57. Kf2 Rh2+ 58. Kg3 Rd2 59. Bc2 Re2
60. Kf4 Rf2+ 61. Ke3 Rf3+ 62. Kd4 Rxc3 63. Kxc3 b6 64. cxb6+ Kxb6 65. Bd1 Kc5
66. Be2 Nd7 67. Bd3 Kd6 68. Kd4 Nb6 69. e5+ fxe5+ 70. Ke4 Nxa4 71. Bc4 Nb6 72.
Ba2 Nd5 73. Bc4 a4 74. h4 a3 75. g5 hxg5 76. hxg5 a2 77. Bxa2 Nc3+ 0-1[/pgn]
Petrosian's victory avenges his loss to the 15-year-old in the PRO Chess League earlier this year when the Dallas Destiny (Li’s local team) defeated the Seattle Sluggers (Petrosian’s team as a free agent) in their match by a single point.
[pgn][Event "PRO League Pacific 2017"]
[Site " INT"]
[Date "2017.01.25"]
[Round "3"]
[White "Li, Ruifeng"]
[Black "Petrosian, TL."]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "B06"]
[WhiteElo "2564"]
[BlackElo "2592"]
[PlyCount "139"]
[EventDate "2017.01.11"]
[EventType "team (rapid)"]
[EventRounds "7"]
[EventCountry "USA"]
[Source "Mark Crowther"]
[SourceDate "2017.01.30"]
[WhiteTeam "Dallas Destiny"]
[BlackTeam "Seattle Sluggers"]1. e4 d6 2. d4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. Bg5 a6 5. Nf3 b5 6. a4 b4 7. Nd5 Bb7 8. Bd3
Bxd5 9. exd5 Nf6 10. Bc4 O-O 11. O-O a5 12. Re1 Nbd7 13. Bb5 Nb6 14. Bc6 Ra7
15. Bxf6 Bxf6 16. Qe2 Qc8 17. c4 bxc3 18. bxc3 Qf5 19. c4 Kg7 20. Rab1 e6 21.
dxe6 Qxe6 22. Qxe6 fxe6 23. c5 dxc5 24. dxc5 Nd5 25. Rxe6 Nc3 26. Rbe1 Ra6 27.
h4 Rb8 28. g4 Rf8 29. g5 Bd8 30. Kg2 Na2 31. Nd4 Nb4 32. Bb7 Ra7 33. c6 Nd3 34.
Nb5 h6 35. Nxa7 hxg5 36. R1e3 Nf4+ 37. Kg1 Nxe6 38. Rxe6 gxh4 39. Nb5 h3 40.
Re2 Rf3 41. Nd4 Rd3 42. Ne6+ Kf6 43. Nxd8 Rxd8 44. Ba6 Rd4 45. Bb5 g5 46. Kh2
g4 47. Kg3 Rb4 48. f3 gxf3 49. Rf2 Kg5 50. Rxf3 Rh4 51. Kh2 Rh7 52. Rxh3 Re7
53. Kg2 Kf4 54. Kf2 Rg7 55. Rh4+ Ke5 56. Kf3 Kd5 57. Rg4 Rf7+ 58. Ke3 Kc5 59.
Ke4 Re7+ 60. Kf5 Re1 61. Re4 Rh1 62. Re7 Kb6 63. Re8 Rh6 64. Rb8+ Kc5 65. Rb7
Rh7 66. Kg6 Re7 67. Kf6 Rh7 68. Ra7 Kb4 69. Ra8 Kc5 70. Rxa5 1-0[/pgn]
In addition to winning the main event, Petrosian also won clear 1st in the Spirit of Chess GM Invitational blitz tournament and tied for 1st in the Walter Browne Memorial Blitz Championship. There was a 6-way tie for 2nd place by Illia Nyzhnyk, Dmitry Gordievsky, Elshan Moradiabadi, Rogelio Barcenilla Jr., Andrey Gorovets, and Nick De Firmian.
IM Dmitry Gordievsky has all three GM Norms and is waiting for his title to become official. Photo: Tim Hanks
IM Gordievsky was the only non-GM of the six and went undefeated, only giving up half points to the current and previous National Open Champions, Petrosian, Li, and Nyzknyk. I was watching his 5th round game against Grandmaster Nyzknyk live and was very surprised that he managed to hold it. What would you play as Black here?

Illia Nyzhnyk vs. Dmitry Gordievsky

Black to move and draw.
Show Solution
[pgn][Event "National Open 2017"]
[Site "Las Vegas USA"]
[Date "2017.06.18"]
[Round "5.1"]
[White "Nyzhnyk, I."]
[Black "Gordievsky, D."]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "B14"]
[WhiteElo "2612"]
[BlackElo "2613"]
[SetUp "1"]
[FEN "3b4/1R1R1pkp/3P2p1/5r2/P1N5/6PK/4r2P/8 b - - 0 43"]
[PlyCount "9"]
[EventDate "2017.06.16"]
[EventType "swiss"]
[EventRounds "6"]
[EventCountry "USA"]
[Source "Mark Crowther"]
[SourceDate "2017.06.19"]43... Rff2 $1 44. Rxd8 h5 {Threatening mate on h2.} 45. Kh4 (45. g4 Rxh2+ 46.
Kg3 Rhg2+ 47. Kf4 Rgf2+ 48. Kg3 (48. Kg5 Re4 {when it's White that's in
trouble.}) 48... Rg2+ {Draw.}) 45... Re4+ 46. Kh3 Ree2 47. Kh4 Re4+ 1/2-1/2[/pgn]

The Section Winners

Expert Peter Walsh scored a perfect 6-0 in the U2100 section! Photo: Tim Hanks
The only 6-0 perfect score in the main tournament was achieved by Peter Walsh in the Under 2100 section. Here is the complete list of winners:

Josef Pribyl (5 points)

Carla Heredia (5 points)

Bryon Doyle (5 points)

Ronald Cusi (5 points)

Leo Creger (5 points)


Peter Walsh (6 points)


Vardan Betikyan (5.5 points)

Joseph Levine (5.5 points)

James Gould (5.5 points)


Alexander Connelly (5.5 points)


Ronald Martin Cusi Jr. (5.5 points)


Kyriakos Kypriotakis (5.5 points)

For more information, visit:

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