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GM Brodsky Clear First at Charlotte Open: Full Tournament Recap

Charlotte Open Chess Tournament 2024
2024 Charlotte Open

The Charlotte Chess Center's first major tournament of the year, the Charlotte Open, took place at the UNC Charlotte Marriott Hotel & Conference Center over MLK weekend, from January 13-15, 2024. Over 400 total players participated, including many masters, chess celebrities, and CCC regulars.

Included among the events and side events of this tournament were:

  • The 6-round open (consisting of eight sections from Championship to U900, with the top four sections also FIDE-rated)

  • The K-8 U600 event on Saturday

  • The blitz tournament, featuring two sections and a $1000 prize fund

  • Game analysis and "Play the Master" blitz with GM Yasser Seirawan

Additionally, the tournament was covered live on Twitch, with Andrea Botez and WGM Dina Belenkaya both streaming their games to an international audience.

Ultimately, when accounting for all the rated games over the course of the weekend, this author counted a grand total of 27(!) states represented by at least one participant, as well as the District of Columbia. The tournament also welcomed players representing countries such as Canada, Hungary, Israel, and Peru.


The Championship section was headlined by ten Grandmasters, each of whom scored at least four points. The highest-rated, CCC instructor GM Daniel Naroditsky, went a perfect 3/3 in his games! But this was only good enough for a tie from 3rd-9th place, as he took byes in the last three rounds, finishing on 4.5 points overall.

The big winner was GM David Brodsky, securing clear first in the top section with a 5.5/6 score. Only Brodsky's round three opponent, NM Graham Horobetz, was able to hold him to a draw. Here's his win as black against GM Cristhian Cruz:

Grandmaster David Brodsky Charlotte Chess Tournament
GM David Brodsky

Brodsky netted $2000 for his performance. He secured his clear first place finish with a win as white in the final round against GM Kayden Troff, who, along with his fellow "Chess Dawgs" Antonio Padron and Matthew Crossette, made the trek all the way from Utah!

In the decisive Board 1 battle, Brodsky applied pressure with the unusual knight maneuver Na1-c2-a3-b5, eventually winning a pawn and converting his material advantage into the full point:

The Championship also had a clear second place finisher in GM Emilio Cordova, who lost in round three to IM Nico Chasin but rebounded by winning his last three games. By winning on command in the final game against NM Naveen Prabhu, he clinched at least a share of second, which became his alone when GMs Jianchao Zhou and Gergely Kantor drew. Here's Cordova's last round:

Tying for third-through-ninth place were a collection of GMs: the aforementioned Naroditsky, Zhou, Kantor, Troff, and Cruz, as well as Julio Sadorra and Jesse Kraai. The latter won in the last round against NM Graham Horobetz to clinch a share of the prize, but this author found his third game more entertaining. White's move Nxd7 sets a trap, and it's known to theory that black needs to recapture with the queen to keep the balance, but the difference between the two recaptures is very difficult to find at the board!

Grandmaster Jesse Kraai Charlotte Chess Center Tournament
GM Jesse Kraai, deep in thought!

The top U2400 prize was split between five players who each scored 4/6. One of them was the aforementioned NM Prabhu, who won a sparkling tactical game against WGM Tatev Abrahamyan in the Fantasy Caro-Kann:

Apart from Brodsky and Cordova, the biggest prize in the section went to NM Matthew Wofford, who traveled all the way from Colorado. At 3.5/6, he took the top U2250 prize all by himself, in part due to his upset victory over WGM Dina Belenkaya.

Grandmaster Dina Belenkaya Charlotte Chess Center
WGM Dina Belenkaya

Dina streamed her games on her Twitch channel, with commentary from GM Ben Finegold.

Here are the final prize standings in the Championship section:

  • Clear First (5.5/6): GM David Brodsky - $2000

  • Clear Second (5/6): GM Emilio Cordova - $1000

  • Third Place (4.5/6): Split between GMs Daniel Naroditsky, Jianchao Zhou, Julio Sadorra, Gergely Kantor, Cristhian Cruz, Kayden Troff, and Jesse Kraai - $185.71

  • Top U2400 (4/6): Split between NM Deepak Aaron, FM Vishnu Vanapalli, IM David Vigorito, NM Naveen Prabhu, and NM Andrew Jiang - $180

  • Top U2250 (3.5/6): NM Matthew Wofford - $600

  • Second U2250: Split between Jacorey Bynum, Thomas Fang, and NMs Carter Peatman, Sreekar Gangavarapu, John Ligotti, and Advaith Karthik - $42.86

Under Sections

In addition to the Championship, the main event featured seven "under sections" ranging from U2100 to U900. In the U2100, Aleksandr Lutsenko took the $1500 first prize with 5.5/6, with his only draw coming in the last round to secure clear first. Other winners included Vihaan Pendse in second place ($800) and a three-way tie for third between Patrick McCartney, Alan Chen, and Arjun Malik ($233.33).

Included below is Lutsenko's win from round four against Grayson Cooke:

All "board one" matchups from each section were played on DGT boards, so many games from the under sections, as well as all the games from the Championship, can be viewed online.

This section also had coverage on Twitch, as Andrea Botez livestreamed her games to a large audience on the BotezLive Twitch channel. VODs of her games are available in the Twitch archive, with commentary from IM Alex Banzea and GM Jon Ludvig Hammer.

Andrea Botez Charlotte Chess Center Open Tournament
Andrea Botez

The big winner in the U1900 was Shavkat Muhammad, also with 5.5/6, and also making his only draw in the final round. Muhammad, who netted $1200 for his performance, is no stranger to success in Charlotte: he also took first place in the U1600 section of the Charlotte Summer Open back in July!

Included below is his victory with the white pieces in round three against CCC regular Matthew Khariouk:

Travis Deere and Andy He won $450 each for splitting second in the U1900 section, and the remaining prize was split between Naitik Rathi, Jesse Dill, and Arjun Garg ($66.67 each).

Beiyang Ni took first place in the U1700 by a full point, with (once again!) a draw in the final round to clinch clear first after five consecutive wins. His round four win against Vernon McNeil, included here, was key in distancing himself from the competition. Ni took home $1000, with McNeil, Eric Shaw, and Varun Kolluri each earning $333.33 for their 4.5/6 scores. As noted below (scroll down for the blitz tournament results!) it was an enormously successful weekend for Beiyang.

The U1500 section produced a four-way tie for first between Dhruv Patel, Saharsh Koka, Kritarth Mishra, and Pranav Arun. Each scored 5/6 and took $425. Patil was on 5/5 heading into the final round, and had a shot at perfection, but created the logjam by losing to Koka in the last game. Nevertheless, all four players gained over 100 USCF rating points!

The only player in the main event to finish on a perfect 6/6 was Vincent Lovello, who also tacked on a whopping 215 points to his rating. He took clear first in the U1300 section to win $800, while the other prize winners were Matthew Liang and Mustapha Muhammad ($350 each for 5/6), as well as Srikar Kapila, Aadarsh Sundarapandian, and Ryan Matthews ($66.67 for 4.5/6).

Dylan Pfeiffer took clear first in the U1100 section with 5.5/6 ($700), with Ata Erdogan and James Moran taking home $350 each for second place and Munisa Irmukhamed winning $200.

The top of the U900 section was a four-way tie between Bryan Powe, Gavin Burton, Mathias Guenther, and Sujit Vakkalanka, who each scored 5/6. All four took home $400 for their respective performances. Attached below is the last-round encounter between two of the top finishers.

Congratulations to all prize winners!

Scholastic U600

Alongside the main event, Saturday also featured a K8 U600 scholastic event with five rounds of g25+5 games. A total of 36 players participated, with a clear first place winner in Owen Sauda, scoring a perfect 5/5. Edward Dunand, on 4.5/5, placed in clear second.

The top ten finishers all received trophies, with the final points breakdown shown here:

Charlotte Chess Center Tournament Standings

Blitz Tournament

Sunday night was time for the blitz tournament! Entry was free for all participants in the main event, so participation was high: 100 players in the Blitz Championship, and another 79 in the U1600.

Grandmaster Daniel Naroditsky Charlotte Chess Center
GM Daniel Naroditsky

In the top section, GMs Daniel Naroditsky and Gergely Kantor drew each other and defeated all their other opponents, finishing with 5.5/6 each and pocketing $400 for shared first place.

Other prize winners were:

  • GMs Olexandr Bortnyk, Jianchao Zhou, Kayden Troff, and Alonso Zapata, as well as NMs Deepak Aaron and Andrew Jiang ($50). Zapata also received the $100 Top Senior prize.

  • Angel Lopez (Top U2300 - $80)

  • WGM Dina Belenkaya and WFM Alexandra Botez (Top Female - $100)

  • David Schmitz, Charles Troutman, Sanjay Kumar, Vidyuth Kamesh, Charles Snyder, Christopher Williams, and Botez all split the Top U2100 ($8.57)

  • Joseph Gaynier (Top U1900 - $60)

Samantha Canciobello Charlotte Chess Center
Samantha Canciobello

In the U1600 section, Beiyang Ni scored 5.5/6 and took clear first, winning $250. Between the main event and the blitz, he combined for 11/12 total points, the most of any player, and $1250 total winnings. What a weekend!

Six players took $65 for splitting second place: Adrian Allen, Leon Li, Darrin Carney, Sihan Zheng, Tyler Murrah, and Mathias Guenther, the latter two taking Top U1300 and Top U1100 respectively. The Top U900/Top Unrated prize went to Deepak Vellattu, scoring 4/6 ($60). Diksha Jaikumar, Nishita Jaikumar, and Samantha Canciobello split the Top Female prize ($33.33), while Tim Leamy took the $100 Top Senior prize.

Side Events and Fun!

Grandmaster Yasser Seirawan Charlotte Chess Center
GM Yasser Seirawan

Throughout the tournament, there were numerous side events featuring the legendary GM Yasser Seirawan. The four-time US Chess Champion (as well as former World Junior Champion) hosted several Q&A and commentary sessions, signed autographs, and took on all comers in blitz.

Seirawan, a beloved figure in the chess community, lived up to his gentle reputation by signing autographs and continuing to take blitz challenges even past the scheduled times listed. On behalf of the Charlotte Chess Center and its community, thank you Yasser!

Following the blitz event, players had the option to participate in a Blitz Bounty challenge against one of four opponents: WGM Dina Belenkaya, WFM Alexandra Botez, GM Olexandr Bortnyk, and GM Daniel Naroditsky.

Starting at $50, the prize doubled each round, leading to some high-stakes matchups. Jesse Dill (pictured) came away with $250 from Alexandra Botez, winning the fifth game in the bounty challenge.

After the tournament, WFM Botez stuck around to interview passers-by for the BotezLive social media pages. If you were at the tournament, especially if you were among the players interviewed, maybe you'll see yourself in a video soon!

National Master Dominique Myers Charlotte Chess Center
NM Dominique Myers celebrated his birthday during the tournament!

Game Submissions

To conclude this report, I'd like to feature a few games we received from players to be shown in this article. Players may submit games using the button down below, or the QR code pages at our events.

In the U2100 section, Patrick McCartney submitted several games for us, and some of them may be featured in subsequent posts! For this recap, I thought to include his win against Shawn Bale in the second round, which demonstrates the importance of playing precisely in the endgame:

Also in the U2100 section, Antonio Padron submitted his third game. Padron, along with GM Kayden Troff and Matthew Crossette, hails from Utah and streams chess on the ChessDawgs Twitch page. In the main event, Padron gained 26 rating points, thanks in part to the exchange sacrifice he unleashed with the black pieces against Quan Tanksley:

In the U1900 section, CCC coach Mario Pineda-Bermudez submitted his last-round game against the aforementioned "ChessDawg" Matthew Crossette. By capitalizing on weaknesses such as the d3-pawn and the e3-square, black was able to neutralize white's Grand Prix Attack and achieve a winning material advantage:

Finally, Nichol Garrison submitted her game against Daniel Dieringer from the U900 section. It takes humility to submit a loss, but learning from games we lose is one of the best ways to improve at chess! White's tremendous space advantage gave her serious chances in the middlegame, but eventually, black was able to liberate his dark-squared bishop and win white's bishop in the process, going on to convert the extra material into a win.

All tournament photos are by Daniel Schipper.

Thank you to all who participated in the 2024 Charlotte Open!

For upcoming tournaments, bookmark our Events Schedule. The CCC hosts nearly 8 events a week at our facilities in North and South Charlotte, along with bi-monthly major events such as the upcoming 2024 Spring Open and ALTO tournaments.

Not a member of the CCC? Join over 800 members today!

NM Dennis Norman

Chess Coach - Club Journalist

Charlotte Chess Center


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