Photo Betsy Dynako
by Jennifer Shahade
Going into the final round of the 2007 National Open (June 7-11), Reiner Gonzalez had the only perfect score, having just won against the Bulgarian Atanas Kolev. Reiner was tan and relaxed from a trip to his native Cuba. With two GM norms, he will soon focus on European tournaments in Spain to shoot for his third and final norm.
In the last round, Reiner was paired against the highest rated 4.5, Hikaru Nakamura. In a tough position, Hikaru executed an unusual middlegame king walk that seemed to throw Reiner off his game. With this win, Hikaru earned clear first. "I always do well in Vegas," he said.
Hikaru's favorite game however, was his fifth round win against Melikset Khachiyan.
Hikaru attributes his win in Vegas to "playing real openings for a change" as well as the support of his fans. "Considering my recent results have been less than stellar, like in Foxwoods and the U.S. Champs, and the fact that my confidence hasn't been as high as in the past, it was so nice that so many players offered me kind words and wished me good luck." Hikaru said that this inspired him to play well and win. "That other people still believe in me, meant a lot." Hikaru is now more excited than ever about studying and winning: "I am going to go to the World Open well-prepared and ready to win," he said.
Special guest GM Viktor Korchnoi tied for second with 5/6. His best game was his fifth round win over Dmitry Gurevich.
Irina Krush had a good showing in the National Open. She lost a winning game in round 3 to Sergey Erenburg, but had a great final day. "I'm really happy that I was able to recover." She defeated U.S. Champion Alexander Shabalov in the penultimate round, in one of his pet lines, the Botvinnik. Irina had already prepared specifically for this line against Shabalov in February. She was preparing for the February Fide Open in Oklahoma, and knew that Shabalov was a likely opponent. As it turned out, she played Shabalov with Black in that event, so her preparation was not relevant. But a few months later, the hard work paid off...as Irina was aware of some key ideas that came up in this game, such as the set-up with Qf3 and Be2.
Irina Krush and Alexander Shabalov faced off in round 5. Photo Betsy Dynako.
However, Irina was most happy with her last round draw against GM Atanas Kolev. "The whole game was a tough defense. He was white, higher rated and needed to win for prize money. It was an endgame from move 10 in which I only had losing or drawing chances."
Irina has now broken the 2500 USCF mark for the first time ever.
Photo Gallery by Betsy Dynako
Walter Browne found time to give a simul. He missed the main event however, due to a stellar showing at the World Series of Poker (concurrent with the National Open!) at the Rio hotel on the other end of the "Strip."
A jovial moment for the National Open champion Hikaru Nakamura.
Susan Polgar hands out awards for one of her many namesake tournaments, the Susan Polgar World Open for Girls. Sylvia Yang won clear first in the Open with 5/6.
The National Open's guest of honor, GM Viktor Korchnoi, gave a simul on the Monday morning after the tournament.
Final National Open Standings
1. Hikaru Nakamura- 5.5/6
2-7-GM Viktor Korchnoi, IM Enrico Sevillano, GM Gregory Serper, IM Josh Friedel and GM Andranik Matikozyan.
1. Charles Galofre- 5.5/6
1. Dmitri Barabanov-6/6
1. Sevan Toroussian- 6/6
1. Igor Melnykov- 6/6
1. Alexander Kayfetz-gaum- 5.5/6
1. Anna Karapetyan- 5.5/6