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North American Open: The Wide View Print E-mail
By Randy Hough   
January 1, 2013
Tourneysite.jpgThe 22nd Annual North American open attracted 639 players to Bally’s Casino and Resort Las Vegas in the days after Christmas. The increase from last year’s 608 is attributable to the new nine-round Open section, covered here by Jamaal Abdul-Alim.

This article gives a special focus on the rest of the tournament, which accounted for the bulk of the almost $113,000 payout. With the Open and five other sections playing in a huge ballroom (the Under 1250 players were upstairs), there were plenty of fighting games and a few anomalies.  

Many players seem not to know how to set their own clocks (sometimes it’s a borrowed one). One man approached a director and informed him that his clock needed to be set. The irresistible reply: “Fortunately, the rules allow you to do that.” (Assistance was promptly secured.) One participant was overheard (outside the playing room, of course) on his phone describing the scene of hundreds of players, silently exercising their brains, to someone at home, a bit harshly perhaps, as “nerd heaven”.

The “odd hundred point” sections are a welcome change from the usual Under 2200, Under 2000, etc. format. In either case, some players choose to play “up” for the experience rather than seeking fortune by winning their “own” section. One such was Alex Mabry of Utah, whose 1890 rating would have made him a favorite in Under 1900; instead, he played in Under 2100, racking up 4½ points and tallying a 2143 performance. Here’s a tactical win by Alex in a Closed Sicilian (experience suggests 8…Bxh6 9.Qxh6 Nd4 rather than castling).

And here’s other interesting game (by a non-prizewinner in the Open section), in which young senior master Kyron Griffith of San Diego comes out on top in a pawn race. (19.Nd3 and later 41.Rc8 – though Black already has the edge – would have improved for White.)


As for the winners: there was a three-way tie in Under 2300. Hayk Malvelyan, 19, is from the San Francisco Bay Area and plays at Mechanics Institute. He doesn’t have a formal coach, but studies with his father, an A player. Alexander Velikanov, 15, of Milwaukee, showed steady progress; he won the Under 2200 section of the Midwest Class in 2011. And Ruifeng Li of Texas is ranked second nationally among 11-year-olds.

Under 2100 also saw three winners. Bill Turner of Ohio and Ivan Troufanov of Northern California evaded this interviewer’s clutches; Karl Tolentino, 18, of Southern California a freshman at UC Davis who likes playing guitar, is also moving up, having tied for first in Under 2000 in last month’s American Open. He and Troufanov were low-seeded, with official rating ratings still below 2000.

In U1900 Angelito Aguilar Abella of Texas went 6-0 and his previously requested last round bye earned him clear first place.

Under 1700 had three winners of disparate ages. Ben Rood, 8, of Northern California recently played in the World Youth Champ Youth. Richard Peterson, 60, of Southern California is an organizer, who has won seven state school championships vicariously through his progeny. Richard has been a highly infrequent tournament player for years, as has Edgardo Mirandea, 58, of Las Vegas, who, last played in the Chicago Open 1995. Richard and Ben had an exciting last round draw.
George Shan

In Under 1500 George Shan, 12, of Southern California scored 6½ and now has won 14½ of his last 15 games!    He swept the Under 1400 section of the recent American Open and is obviously another young player on the rise.

The Under 1250 winner, also with 6½, was Ramin Rezaee Dasdhti, 31, of Las Vegas. He’s rated only 673, but online play and coaching by IM Shahin Mohandesi has obviously paid off. (Unfortunately for Ramin, his prize was limited to $1500 as his December rating was still provisional).

We don’t know how many players returned home richer (sometimes money, as well as what happens, stays in Vegas), but they were generally quite happy with the tournament conditions, and 2012 ends with a big success for one of Continental Chess’s “big three” tournaments.

See final standings and information here and find Jamaal Abdul-Alim's report here.