|The Chess Stars Come out in Las Vegas|
|By Randy Hough|
|December 28, 2010|
The North American Open at Bally's in Las Vegas (December 26-29) has attracted one of its best turnouts (676 players plus 13 reentries) despite bad weather across much of the US that inhibited some travel plans. The 130-player Open section includes 14 GMs and 13 IMs. The third round marked the merge of the four- and three-day schedules, and seven players emerged with perfect scores.
They are GMs Varuzhan Akobian, Jiri Stocek, Giorgi Kacheishvili, Joshua Friedel, and recently-dethroned Women's World Champ Alexandra Kosteniuk; and IMs Irina Krush (the reigning US Women's Champ) and Mackenzie Molner. Molner has been the big sensation. The young New Jersey player, with two GM norms under his belt, downed the second and seventh seeds, GMs Loek Van Wely and Gregory Kaidanov.
At the time of writing, round four is still in progress, but Kacheishvili has already prevailed over Kosteniuk, narrowly the field of winners.
Krush reached her perfect score with a difficult win over the 15-year-old upset-minded Michael Omori of Washington, who had earlier defeated Master Nenand Ristovic and WIM Iryna Zenyuk. Krush, Stocek, and Friedel played the long schedule; the other leaders, the shorter (Game/75 for the first two rounds). Plenty of fine players are not far behind in this seven-rounder, so there are likely to be many twists and turns before the end. Stay tuned and follow all the action on northamericanopen.com and monroi.com!