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.

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.

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.

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.

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)

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