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Mind Sports Event in Vegas Includes Chess Print E-mail
By Tom Brownscombe   
July 21, 2013
MSIlead.jpgAfter having organized, directed, and played in hundreds of chess tournaments in more than 3 decades, I thought that I had seen just about every type of chess tournament.  But I was wrong.  The chess tournament at the first US Mind Sports Festival (July 5-7, Las Vegas) was like no other tournament that I have ever seen.  Imagine playing in a chess tournament amidst other gamers playing a variety of strategy games.  That is exactly what happened July 5-7 at the luxurious Palazzo hotel and casino in Las Vegas.  The chess tournament was held in the center of the Lando ballroom, and we were surrounded by a Go tournament, a scrabble tournament, a mahjong tournament, and a Magic the Gathering tournament.  

The chess began with a free simultaneous exhibition by chess expert Virgilio Reyes. Whenever a game finished, Virgilio graciously allowed a new player to take a seat and play.  The exhibition lasted for several hours, but Virgilio did not lose a single game.

The main tournament was a five round swiss held in four sections. The players in the open section competed for cash prizes and a very unusual trophy: an artistic four level chess board.  There were two titled players in the open section: FMs Tom Brownscombe and Nachum Salman.  But by the end of round three, both masters had suffered an upset.  So on Sunday morning experts Glenn Bidari and Jeffrey Gallegos battled for the tournament lead.  Gallegos won a pawn, but Bidari had excellent compensation.  But the compensation wasn’t good enough, and Gallegos secured the win.  Gallegos and Bidari both won in the final round, leaving Bidari in clear second place with 4 points.  And Jeffrey Gallegos won the trophy and the first place prize money with a score of 4.5.

Alex Stiger, rated 1549, won the under 1800 section.  And she did it despite starting the tournament with a half point bye in round one.  She followed up her swiss gambit with four straight wins to take clear first place with 4.5 points. Stiger was recently featured on the US Chess Scoop talking about how another passion of hers, rock-climbing, ties into chess. 


Michelangelo Barozzi and William Wijaya tied for second place in the under 1800 section with 4 points each.  In the under 1400 section, Robert Lucero proved that chess coaches can also be successful competitors.  Lucero, who is a high school chess coach, won the under 1400 section with 4.5 points.  And Anthony McCarthy secured clear second place in the under 1400 section with 4 points.  Paul Ventura won the under 1000 section with the tournament’s only perfect 5-0 score, and Karl Ulbrich earned clear second place in the under 1000 section with 4 points.  

 The tournament sponsors provided live internet coverage of the event throughout the weekend.  And you can find that coverage recorded on livestream.  To find the featured first round chess game, you have to advance the day one coverage video to 7 hours and 42 minutes.  And unfortunately, the featured chess game from day three has no audio for the first 8 minutes and 40 seconds.  But it is well worth watching.  The expert commentary is hilarious.  I repeatedly laughed out loud while watching it.

On behalf of all of the chess players who participated in the First US Mind Sports chess tournament, I would like to thank the tournament sponsors: 888 poker.  Juan Jauregui of the Las Vegas Chess Club organized the tournament.  Tom Brownscombe and Juan Jauregui served as the tournament directors.

The sponsors were so pleased with the event that they plan to hold another one in November.  I will definitely be there, and I hope to see you there as well.

Also see our coverage of the National Open, held earlier in the summer in Vegas.