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Fun & Chess in Las Vegas Print E-mail
By Jennifer Shahade   
June 16, 2010
The 2010 National Open, the highlight of the Las Vegas Chess Festival, attracted 693 players. Chief tournament director Bill Snead was particularly proud of the international turnout: "We had players from over twenty countries represented, from Mongolia to Mexico."  The event ended with a blitz tournament, which GM Mikheil Kekelidze won and a winners' circle, in which players collect checks and indulge in complimentary beer, soda, chips and salsa. One of the nicest things about the National Open is that the winners circle is naturally large, since anyone who gets a plus score wins a prize, a $50 gift certificate to the tournament book store.

GM Timur Gareev gets a second view on his position, Photo Chris Bird

This year's big winner, as previously reported on CLO, was GM Timur Gareev. Gareev is the first clear winner at the National Open since 1989, a definite statistical improbability. Timur, who is also coming off a big win at the Copper State International, won his final game against GM Varuzhan Akobian to leapfrog over Var, who was on a perfect score going into the final round. We repost the game below:

Coming in a tie for 2nd place and earning just over $1500 were: GMs Varuzhan Akobian, Alejandro Ramirez, Artur Kogan and Aleksandr Lenderman. In the final round, Lenderman won against GM Kekelidze while Kogan won a marathon against GM Tregubov of Russia.

GM Artur Kogan, Photo Chris Bird 

IM Irina Krush, Photo Chris Bird 

IM Irina Krush earned the Under 2500 prize clear, good for $1603, while there was a huge tie for the Under 2400/Under 2300 prize between Sabina Foisor, Tatev Abrahamyan, Michael Langer, Edward Formanek, Edison Ruge and Joshua Gutman.

WGM Sabina Foisor, Photo Chris Bird

Gutman, who is only rated 2135, had a fantastic tournament, defeating strong young masters John Daniel Bryant and Alex Barnett in rounds four and five. GM Alejandro Ramirez, who played Gutman in the last round, joked respectfully during the post-mortem that he was shocked to play a 2100 in the final round for a potential run at clear second: "I kept refreshing my iphone to make sure that was really my pairing." 

GM Alejandro Ramirez, Photo Chris Bird 

Allen's picture is plastered floor to ceiling in the hallway of the Rio, which hosts the World Series of Poker, Photo Jennifer Shahade
While the World Series of Poker was in full swing, poker champion Allen Cunningham ditched the Rio for the South Point as he played the Under 1600 section of the National Open. Despite playing up a section (Allen is rated 1373), Allen scored 4.5/6 and tied for 6th-11th. One spectator joked that Allen's eventual prize, $181 may not be enough to post his usual small blind.

Tournaments such as the National Open and the Western States, which he played in April, are part of Allen's preparation for a planned high stakes chess match against Howard Lederer later this year. Lederer, the "Poker Professor", was rated 1951 when he stopped playing chess. Part of the deal is that Lederer is not allowed to play practice tournaments or study prior to the match. So who will win: a rusty "A" player or a studious class player moving rapidly up the ranks? Famed Bay Area coach Ted Castro talked with Allen last weekend and after watching Allen's games, Ted thinks he is the favorite. Most GMs who hear the basics of the story favor Lederer's chances.

Just a class player in the crowd at the 2010 National Open, Photo Jennifer Shahade

The spirit of the Las Vegas International Chess festival inspired the following photo. Who would have thought so many titled players could form such an impressive cheerleading configuration? Those Dvortesky triangulation exercises are good for something after all!
The strongest ever chess pyramid? Bottom: Clemente Rendon, Elliott Liu, Jacek Stopa and Alex Barnett, Middle: Alejandro Ramirez, Katie Kormanik, Elisha Garg, Top: Moira Kamgar and Stephanie Pitcher, Photo courtesy Stephanie Pitcher

Next year's Las Vegas Chess Festival spans from June 10-13, 2011. If you weren't convinced yet, go to the official website for more information and read an illustrated series of newsletters by Chris Bird.

National Open Results Summary

See full results on the official website


1- GM Timur Gareev- 5.5/6

2-5th-GMs Varuzhan Akobian, Aleksandr Lenderman, Alejandro Ramirez and Artur Kogan-5/6
6th-10th- GMs Daniel Fridman, Benjamin Finegold, Magesh Panchanathan, Andranik Matikozyan, Walter Browne and IM Irina Krush (Under 2500 prize)
Under 2200

1st-2nd- Lawrence Danyul and Michael William Brown- 5.5/6
Under 2000

1st-2nd- Daniel Bryant and Colin Reece Field-Eaton- 5.5/6
Under 1800

1st- Matthew R. Noble- 6/6
Under 1600

1st-Ernesto Lim- 6/6
Under 1400

1st- Shaogang Bian- 5.5/6
Under 1200-

1st- Francisco Moreno- 5.5/6

1st-Ruperto Dilig Jr.- 6/6

Susan Polgar World Championship for Boys and Girls
Girls Under 19

1st- Anu Bayar- 5/5
Girls Under 14

1st-3rd- Christina Kao, Victoria Bian and Taylor McCreary-4/5
Girls Under 11

1st-Maggie Feng- 5/5
Girls Under 8
1st- Gia Peterson- 5/5
Boys Under 19

1st- Randel Eng- 5/5
Boys Under 14

1st- Tom Polgar-Shutzman- 5/5
Boys Under 11

1st-2nd- Winston Ching-Tze Zeng and Alex Bian- 5/5
Boys Under 8

1st- Anthony Zhou- 5/5

June - Chess Life Online 2010

Bryan Smith Wins Philly International as World Open Kicks Off Karpov's Big Think Searching for Food at the World Open L.A. Vibe Prepares to Join US Chess League IM Bryan Smith Leading Philadelphia International 2010 US Junior Open Set for Houston, July 23-25Juniors Storm Philadelphia International Chess Adventures in VietnamFields set for 2010 U.S. Women's and Junior Closed Champs New York International: Ehlvest and Harikrishna TieHBO Real Sports to Feature Brownsville Chess Success Story The US Championship in Black and White Copper "Norm" State Recap Norm-Hunters Charge New York International A Chess Dad's Philadelphia StoryNew York International Set for Marshall Chess Club June 18-22USCF Promotes National Chess Day, October 9Fun & Chess in Las VegasGareev Wins National Open Akobian Surges Ahead in Las Vegas Akobian, Lenderman and Kekelidze Perfect as National Open Merges Fridman Tops G/10 as Las Vegas Chess Festival BeginsMolner Leads Norm-Bonanza at Copper State Searching for Diane Savereide Moving up the Ladder: A Class Player on Gaining 200 Rating PointsA Three-Way Tie at the Capablanca Memorial in Santa Clara Norm-Hunters Emerge at Copper State International Copper State International Begins! An Interesting Chess Sacrifice Curtis Winter's Junior Grand Prix Odyssey A Parent's Perspective on the Chicago Open The June Check is in the Mail Van Wely Wins in Chicago as Norm Season Begins The Road to GM Continues US Champion Kamsky Video Interview