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THE 27TH World Open took place in Philadelphia from 1 to 5 July - an extravaganza boasting no fewer than 1,470 players in divers sections of whom 92 "re-entered". For Open tournaments in America are quite different from those in Europe, with players having to provide their own sets and clocks and, in the Land of the Free, if they don't like the way the tournament started they can, for suitable remuneration, "re-enter", replaying the first few rounds at an accelerated time limit.

The Open section had 228 entrants. GM Alexander Ivanov would have taken first alone had he won his last-round game, but he overpressed and lost to Akopian. As a result, Akopian joined a 10-way tie for first on 7/9 with Ehlvest, Shabalov, Novikov, Timoshenko, Benjamin, Fishbein, Yermolinsky, Gulko and Serper.

As reported on the website (, "After much debate" - presumably a serious euphemism - "seven of the winners agreed to participate in a round-robin speed chess play-off that ended with GMs Gulko and Serper tied for first." A final one-game match (with draw odds for Black) was played. Serper (with Black) emerged with the draw and thus became the 1999 World Open Champion.

Nine British juniors, led by 10-year-old Murugan Thiruchelvam and with coaching by Matthew Turner and Dave Rumens, were sponsored by BT's online games network Wireplay to go to Philadelphia.

Murugan himself was a most creditable seventh equal in the under-2,200 section with 6.5/9, while 13-year-old Lawrence Trent, from Ilford in Essex, came even higher, third equal on 7.5/9 in the under-2,000. Four took part in the under-1,800: William Bennet (11) was seventh equal on 7/9, Christopher Dorrington (12) made 5.5, Daniel McGowan (13) 5 and Amir Habibi (11) 4/9. In the under-1,600 section David Howell (8) from Eastbourne was seventh equal on 7/9, Lee Gold (11) made 6 and Daniel Diamond (11) made 5.5.

I remember the strong impression, years ago, that this huge and imposing event made on me and hope that surviving it with considerable honour will inspire these players too.

Against the 15-year-old US Women's Champion, Gulko refrained from 2 ...b6 in favour of another "unusual white square system". 6 Qc2 looks too slow - I like 6 a3 when if Bxc3 7 Bxc3 dxc4 8 e4 b5!? 9.b3! regains the pawn at once.

Gulko got a big lead in development and after 15 ...e4! a powerful attack. If 21 Kf1 Bxe2+ 22 Rxe2 Ng3+; or if 21 Kd1 one winning line is Nf2+ 22 Bxf2 Qxf2 23 Re1 Rad8, etc.

White: Irina Krush

Black: Boris Gulko

Franco-Indian Defence

1 d4 e6

2 c4 Bb4+

3 Bd2 Qe7

4 Nc3 Nf6

5 f3!? d5

6 Qc2 c5!

7 dxc5 d4

8 Nb5 Bxc5

9 a3 a6

10 b4 axb5

11 cxb5 Nbd7

12 bxc5 Nxc5

13 e3 e5

14 Bd3 0-0

15 Ne2 e4!

16 fxe4 Nfxe4

17 exd4 Nxd3+

18 Qxd3 Bg4

19 Be3 Rfe8

20 Ra2 Qh4+

21 g3 Bxe2

22 Qxe2 Nxg3

0-1 Black resigns