Yoo Clinches US Masters Title in Charlotte

This past turkey day weekend, over 637 players flocked to Charlotte for the US Masters and concurrent North Carolina Open (NCO). With 202 players competing for the $20,000 prize fund from November 23-27, the Charlotte Chess Center (CCC) boasted the largest iteration of the tournament since Dr. Walter High revitalized it in Greensboro a decade ago. The 435 players in the NCO also constituted the largest open tournament ever held in the state.

Beginning a mere day after the CCC's 60-player norm invitational concluded, the event had a distinct international flavor. In total, the diverse field featured players from 37 countries and 32 states.

With 30 GMs and 40 IMs competing, the 2022 edition was also the strongest in the tournament’s history. Many of the country’s top juniors competed, including GM Abhimanyu Mishra, GM Brandon Jacobson, IM Andy Woodward, and IM Dimitar Mardov.

 

US Masters

 

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Christopher Yoo
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GM Christopher Yoo, 2022 US Masters Champion (courtesy Tim Hanks/CCC)

 

In the end, five grandmasters tied for first place with 7/9. By virtue of having the highest tiebreaks, GMs Christopher Yoo and Alejandro Ramirez squared off in a blitz playoff for the title, trophy, and a $300 cash bonus.

Yoo qualified for the playoff thanks in part to a strong victory with the black pieces over a fellow junior in the penultimate round.

 

 

Yoo was joined by Ramirez, who was in fine form all weekend. Here he is out-dueling a familiar name in a positional almost-showdown.

 

 

Christopher Yoo won both playoff games in style, earning $2,700 as well as the national title. The US Masters is a lucky tournament for Christopher, who scored his third GM norm at the 2021 edition.

 

 

 

The other players tying for first – GMs Mikhail Antipov (representing the FIDE flag), Emilio Cordova (Peru), Alejandro Ramirez (USA), and Cristhian Cruz (Peru) –  each earned $2,400 in prize money.

 

 

 

 

In a large tie for sixth place with 6½/9 were some of the top seeds, including Grigoriy Oparin and Awonder Liang. IM Farai Mandizha (Zimbabwe) and WIM Sila Caglar (Turkey) split the Under 2400 FIDE prizes at 6/9, picking up $900 each.

 

 

 

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IM Mandizha
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IM Farai Mandizha on his way to defeating GM Abhimanyu Mishra in round 7 (courtesy Tim Hanks, CCC)

 

 

WIM Sila Caglar was in the running for both an IM norm and her final WGM norm going into the final round, but lost a tough game against Greek GM Nikolas Theodorou to end her chances. Despite her loss, Caglar had already clinched the top female prize, and leaves Charlotte with $1,500 in prize money and plenty of rating points.

 

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WIM Caglar
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Sila Caglar on her way to defeating GM Aman Hambleton during round 6 (courtesy Tim Hanks/CCC)

 

 

Although eight players were in norm contention heading into the final round, only FM Anthony Atanasov from Canada was able to pull off the necessary win. Needing to win with Black, Atanasov essayed the Petroff against fellow FM Samrug Narayanan and won a 25-move battle to earn his first IM norm. He also split the U2250 FIDE prize with FM Donald Johnson and NM Gabriel Eidelman, each winning $500.

 

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Antanasov
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FM Anthony Atanasov with his first IM norm (courtesy Tim Hanks/CCC)

 

 

Splitting the Senior (50+) prizes were GM Alex Fishbein, GM Alonso Zapata, and IM Roberto Martin Del Campo.

GM Alex Fishbein, GM Alonso Zapata, and IM Roberto Martin Del Campo (courtesy Tim Hanks and Maya Myers, CCC)

 

 

Other fan favorites including GM Daniel Naroditsky, GM Parimarjan Negi, IM Nazi Paikidze, FM Tani Adewumi, and FM James Canty put in solid performances, but finished outside the prizes.

 

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Canty
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FM James Canty III (courtesy Maya Myers / CCC)

 

 

North Carolina Open

The 2022 NC Open is a perennial event held alongside the US Masters. With special guest IM John Bartholomew, and lots of side events including a 240-player free blitz event, it was the largest open tournament ever held in North Carolina, with a total of 423 players in the main event and scholastics, all competing for $11,000 in prizes.

NCO section winners:

 

Championship – Diego Zilleruelo (Puerto Rico) – 5.5/6, $1000

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Diego Zilleruelo
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2022 North Carolina Open Champion, Diego Zilleruelo (courtesy Tim Hanks/CCC)

 

Under 1900 – Jay Satchwill (NC) – 5.5/6, $800

 

Under 1700 – David Schmitz (GA) and Annika Moorjani (NC) – 5.5/6, $600 each

 

Under 1500 – Henry Hui (NC), Sridattha Kukkadapu (GA), and Raymond Tu (GA) – 5.0/6, $433.33 each

 

Under 1300 – Brian Remhoff (NC) – 5.5/6, $600

 

Under 1100 – Shreyas Krishnan (VA) and Jonah Nus (NC) – 5.5/6, $500

 

Scholastic Under 800 – John Wanamaker (NC) and Khabir Muhammad (NC) – 4.0/4

 

Scholastic Under 400 – Sahithi Sharma (NC) and Bryan Tran (NC) – 4.0/4

 

Blitz Championship – GM Mikhail Antipov (Missouri) – 5.5/6, $300

 

Blitz Under 2000 – Rafael Adam (Canada), $200

 

Find standings, results, games, and pictures from the 2022 US Masters and North Carolina Open here. You can also check out a YouTube playlist with interviews from the event.

All in all, it was a huge festival put on by the Charlotte Chess Center in collaboration with Dr. Walter High. Thanks to our sponsors, staff, and partners who made this event possible.  We will be back for Thanksgiving 2023!

 

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