An astonishing nine(!) players tied for first in the 2019 edition of the U.S. Masters. GMs Ortiz Suarez, Azarov, Bruzon Batista, Naroditsky, Moradiabadi, Zierk, Gabuzyan, Meceija and IM Balakrishnan took top honors and chopped up the $21,500 in prizes to take home $2,389 each.
Top overall on tiebreaks were GM Sergei Azarov of Belarus and GM Isan Reynaldo Ortiz Suarez of Cuba. Top U.S. players were GM Daniel Naroditsky and GM Elshan Moradiabadi. Each pair played an Armageddon game to decide the tiebreak winner of each category. In both games white had 15 minutes with a 5 second delay against blacks 10 minutes with 5 second delay. As typical with Armageddon games black has less time but draw odds.
In the game for overall champion, GM Azarov had the white pieces but could not topple GM Ortiz Suarez in the Closed Ruy Lopez:
GM Ortiz comfortably drew the game and thus was the winner of the overall tiebreak for the U.S. Masters.
Ortiz Suarez and Walter High (photo Giannatos)
In the tiebreak game for top US player, GM Moradiabadi had the white pieces and prevailed in a very topsy-turvy game to take down GM Naroditsky:
GM Moradiabadi, who recently won a similar armageddon playoff against IM Tiglon at the US Open, continued his streak of Armageddon victories and took the honors of top U.S. player.
Walter High and Elshan Moradiabadi (photo Giannatos)
A total of five(!) norms were earned this year which is well above the average of three. It certainly helps that for the fifth year in a row the U.S. Masters was a super swiss.
Praveen Balakrishnan (photo Hanks)
David Brodsky (photo Hanks)
Kapil Chandran (photo Hanks)
Olivier Kenta Chicku-Ratte (photo Hanks)
Carissa Yip (photo Hanks)
IM Balakrishnan, who also tied for first in the tournament, had a stellar performance overall which earned him his second GM norm.
The following was a fantastic endgame conversion by Balakrishnan over one of the top seeds:
IM David Brodsky earned his 3rd GM norm and finished only a half point behind the field. David also took home $800 for shared (with IM Zhaozhi Li) U2500 FIDE prize.
FM Carissa Yip earned her 2nd IM Norm and took home $500 for top U2400 FIDE prize. FM Kapil Chandran earned his first IM Norm. And Canadian FM, Olivier Kenta Chicku-Ratte, earned his 3rd IM norm.
The organizer would also like to thank his team of arbiters for conducting such a seamless event.
Korey Kormick, Walter High, Thad Rogers, Rudy Abate (photo Giannatos)
North Carolina Open
The 2019 North Carolina Open ran alongside the U.S. Masters. The tournament drew a healthy 218 players from throughout the region.
The Open section was won by SM Tianqi Wang and Expert Benjamin Snodgrass.
Snodgrass, Tianqi (photo Giannatos)
Under 2000 Winner – Harold Mitchell
Under 1700 Winner – Jonathan Hudson
Under 1400 Winners – Leon Copeland, Monish Behera, Sofia Gomez
A special thank you goes to the TD’s – Kevin Hyde, Maya McGreen and Keith Hooker – for running a smooth event.