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Not Just Luck: A Weekend of Chess in Vegas Print E-mail
By Tom Brownscombe and GM Jaan Ehlvest   
December 22, 2013
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GM Jaan Ehlvest plays a simul
On Friday, December 6th, 2013 not just one, but two grandmasters came to visit the Las Vegas Chess Center at the corner of Fremont Street and 8th Street in downtown Las Vegas.  GM Timur Gareev is number 3 on the most recent list of top USA players with a USCF rating of 2769 and 102 in the world with a current FIDE rating of 2650.  GM Jaan Ehlvest is number 16 on the most recent list of USA players with a USCF rating of 2627 and 297 in the world with a current FIDE rating of 2577.  

The evening began with a presentation by Timur on how to play the white pieces against the dragon variation of the Sicilian defense.  Then the two grandmasters teamed up against 20 club members in a tandem simultaneous chess exhibition.  Many chess aficionados have seen a simultaneous chess exhibition, in which a strong player plays against many opponents simultaneously. 

A tandem simultaneous exhibition is even more impressive.  The two grandmasters moved from board to board, taking turns making moves without ever speaking to each other.  This is more difficult than a normal simul, because the two grandmasters had to play a coherent game of chess on every board without ever communicating.  The grandmasters’ task was made even more difficult by the strength of the field, which included three masters.

J. Ehlvest/T. Gareev - FM Brownscombe,Tom (2226) [B82]

tandem simul, 06.12.2013
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 d6 6.f4 Nc6 7.Be3 Be7 8.Bd3 0–0 9.0–0 a6 Active play with  9...Nxd4 10.Bxd4 e5 is the right way.
10.Kh1 Qc7 11.Qf3 Nxd4 12.Bxd4 e5 13.fxe5 dxe5
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14.Be3?
 
I am very familiar with these types of positions, but Timur probably not, so I was not happy to see our Bishop on e3 when it was my turn again. Jaan. White misses an opportunity to gain an advantage with 14.Qg3 Bd6 15.Be3±.
14...Be6= 15.Nd5 Bxd5 16.exd5 Rad8 17.Rad1

17.c4 e4 18.Bxe4 Qxc4=
17...Rxd5 18.Bxh7+ Kxh7 19.Rxd5 Nxd5 20.Qxd5 Qxc2 21.Qxb7 Qe2
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22.Qe4+
My engine says that 22.Rg1 is the move that holds this position together, but it is not easy to find such a counterintuitive move when playing a simul.
22...Kg8 23.Qf3 Qxb2 24.Qg3 f5 25.Bc1 Qb5 26.Rd1 Rd8 27.Rxd8+ Bxd8 28.Qb3+ Qxb3 29.axb3 Kf7 30.Kg1 Bb6+ 31.Kf1 Ke6 32.Ke2 Bd4 33.h3 f4 34.Ba3 e4 35.Bf8 Kf5 36.Bd6 g5 37.Bb4 g4 38.hxg4+ Kxg4 39.Bd6 f3+ 40.Kf1?

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40.gxf3+ is the only way to keep fighting. 40...e3 41.gxf3+ Kxf3 0–1

The big surprise of the night occurred in Rhomer Johnson’s game.  Rhomer holds a current USCF rating of just 1113.  He has not even played against a master level opponent in USCF rated tournament competition in over 20 years.  And in the opening and early middle game, he appeared to be completely outclassed by his grandmaster opponents.  Rhomer traded off his good bishop.  Then he lost a center pawn. 

Then his opponents gained space and generated play on the queenside and in the center.  But Rhomer didn’t give up.  Despite having an objectively lost position, he kept on fighting.  Rhomer played for a kingside attack and generated threats against black’s castled king.  And those threats led to a blunder by one of the grandmasters, followed by resignation.

Johnson,Rhomer (1113) - J. Ehlvest/T. Gareev [A46]

Tandem simul, 06.12.2013
Rhomer.jpg

Black has an easy win by forcing a queen trade with 25...Qc7, but... 25...Qd6?? 26.Rxg7+ Now black must choose between losing the queen with 26...Rxg7 27.Qxd6, losing a rook to 26...Kh8 27.Rxd7+, getting mated after 26...Kf8 27.Qf6+, or resigning. 1–0

Congratulations Rhomer Johnson, bane of the grandmasters.

V300.jpgThirty-eight chess players came to the Venetian® The Palazzo® Congress Center on Saturday, December 7th and Sunday, December 8th to compete in the Second Las Vegas Mind Sports Open Chess Tournament.  This tournament was part of the second Las Vegas Mind Sports Festival.  The Festival included competitions in chess, scrabble, go, the trading card game Magic the Gathering, and other strategy games. 

Grandmasters Timur Gareev and Jaan Ehlvest were the pre-tournament favorites in the open section of the chess tournament, and they demonstrated their skills by drawing against each other and defeating all others to tie for first place in the open section with 4.5 out of a possible 5 points.  Timur won the first place medal on tie-breaks, but the two grandmasters shared the first and second place prize money equally. 

FM Nachum Salman, NM Ronald Gross, Glenn Bidari, Virgilio Reyes, Juan Jauregui, Daniel Dease, William Wijaya, and Jonathan Zavala all tied for third through tenth place in the open section with 3 points each.  They split the remaining prize money equally.  But young Jonathan Zavala earned the third place medal due to his excellent tie-break score, even though he was the lowest rated player in this massive tie.  Here are two of the key games:





Daniel Quinones won the under 1800 section with 4.5 points, and Michelangelo Barozzi took clear second place with 4 points.  Jason Cruz and Eric Leung tied for third place in the under 1800 section with 3 points each, with Jason Cruz winning the third place medal on tie-break points.  Matthew Kursar won the under 1400 section with 4.5 points, and David Sletten, Jr. took clear second place with 4 points.  Kevin Yarwood and Richard Zhou tied for third place in the under 1800 section with 2.5 points each, with Richard Zhou winning the third place medal on tie-break points.

The next Las Vegas Mind Sports Festival will be held on the University of Nevada Las Vegas campus on the weekend of January 25th and 26th.  The chess tournament was organized and directed by Juan Jauregui and Tom Brownscombe on behalf of the Las Vegas Chess Center in cooperation with Mind Sports International.  To see the full tournament results, check the MSA. For more information about the Las Vegas Chess Center, please visit http://www.vegaschessclub.com.  Find more info on the Mind Sports International here.

The game of king’s chess might be nice alternative for sponsors in Vegas who are looking to show their respect for brains and not for luck only. The millionaire chess tournament was recently announced for October 2014. Closer on the calendar, the North American Open starts in a week and there is the National Open in June.  Meanwhile, the chess in the schools project in Vegas is moving on and the game is a perfect way to teach children the difference between luck and hard work.  
 
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