Vanessa on Vegas So Far Print E-mail
By Vanessa West   
June 20, 2015
The Las Vegas Chess Festival began on Thursday at a new location, the Westgate Resort and Casino. The main tournament of the festival, the National Open, has drawn 17 GMs from all over the country. 

The first day of the tournament for me personally was particularly eventful. My first round pairing against Eric Rosen was an interesting coincidence because I had recently read his instructive piece on Chess Life Online, “Eric Rosen on Final IM Norm: Keys to Success." I ended up holding a draw in a tough endgame with a bishop and a pawn vs. a rook imbalance, but only after over six hours and 110 moves of proving that there was no way to win. My opponent played an impressive game of cat and mouse, repeating many moves to gain time to think while never quite allowing a draw by three time repetition. We were the very last game to finish. Afterwards, the Chief T.D. joked that the organizers thought they might have to start the next round without us. 

In the second round, I won a dynamic game against an old friend, Mike Zaloznyy, where each of us sacrificed increasingly more material every few moves: He played a pawn gambit in the opening. I responded by sacrificing a knight to bring his king out into the open. Then, he sacrificed a rook to shut my queen out of the game. The game was definitely an experience.

At the top of the section, going into the third round today, a slew of GMs were still tied for first place. At the top five boards, unusually enough, there were no wins for white: On board one, GM Dreev got the upper hand against IM Molner in a two rook and bishop ending. On boards three and four, GMs Nyzhnyk and Mamedov got the best of their opponents in complex positions. On boards two and five, the GM games ended peacefully. In the vastly smaller 2-day section, IM Aldama leads after two rounds. Four players lead the Expert section with perfect scores so far: Austin Hughes, Leo Creger, Jeffery Gallegos, and Xiexin Wang. 

The Las Vegas Chess Festival is known for having something for everyone. Two other significant events of the festival are the U.S. Women’s Open and The Youth Championship. 

The U.S. Women’s Open concluded yesterday with a four way tie for first place between WIM Simone Liao, WFM Ramya Krishna Inapuri, WFM Uyanga Byambaa (pictured on the left), and Joanna Liu. WIM Liao was leading the tournament with four straight wins until WFM Ramya Krishna defeated her in the pivotal last round, allowing for the tie for the championship.  

The Youth Championship began today. The favorites to win in both sections, under 14 and under 9, are from Arizona: Dave Mohan and Justin Friedlander 

One of the big draws of the Las Vegas Chess Festival are its many unique side events. Walter Browne played a simul on Saturday where he managed to go undefeated, allowing only three draws in 22 games. Free lectures and game analysis by GMs Browne, Finegold, Henley, and Khachiyan are available throughout the festival. Unfortunately, the Poker Tournament was canceled this year.  

Don’t miss two exciting side events tonight: The Blitz Sectionals and the Youth Puzzle Solving Competition! (I wish there was an all-ages puzzle solving competition!)