The big money World Open Chess tournament in Philadelphia ended yesterday with a nine-way tie for first. The two players who had the best “tie-breaks” (in other words, the two whose opponents scored the highest), namely Ukrainian émigré Alexander Stripunsky of Queens and Armenian émigré Varuzhan Akobian of Los Angeles, came together for a sudden-death playoff. Akobian, twenty-three, emerged victorious.
Like the 2006 World Open, this year’s event was marred by cheating scandals In 2006, one player was found to be wearing a concealed wireless earpiece. He was suspected of receiving suggestions for strong moves from an accomplice equiped with grandmaster-level, chess-playing software. This year, tournament directors patrolled the playing hall armed with high-tech devices to detect prohibited wireless transmissions. And yet, as Chess Life Online reports, there was still “a bevy of cheating accusations…. [The] incidents included double identity (two players who look alike and dress alike playing as one player), false identity (a player who entered the tournament under a false name) and thrown games.” Chess Life Online did not provide any further details.