Kacheishvili and Stocek Top Vegas
By Randy Hough   
December 30, 2010
GM Giorgi Kacheishvili, Photo Chris Bird 2008
What a difference a day made for GM Josh Friedel! In yesterday's report we left him atop the 20th Annual North American Open in Las Vegas with a perfect 5-0 score. When the tournament ended Wednesday, he was in a big tie for tenth place.
It was two 33-year-old foreign GMs, Giorgi Kacheishvili of Georgia (who lives in New York) and the visiting Czech Jiri Stocek who finished in first place, each winning $7,597 -- plus a $203 for the champion on tiebreaks, Kacheishvili. (In total, the tournament paid almost $122,000 in prizes).
Both downed Friedel in the final rounds, Stocek in a hybrid Nimzo/Queen's Indian after he emerged with the safer king position, and Kacheishvili scoring with Black after Friedel sacked too many pawns in an effort to regain his leader's position.



Giorgi had drawn with Israeli GM Ilya Smirin in the penultimate round.
Alex Shabalov, having drawn with much lower masters in the second and third rounds, had moved into contention with a sixth round win over Dmitry Gurevich, who was much too ambitious with the White pieces.


GM Jiri Stocek, Photo Chris Bird 2009

Despite an extra pawn, Shabalov could make no headway against Stocek's active queen in the final round, and the result was a draw.


Smirin and Macedonian GM Nikola Mitkov (fresh off a tactical win over Indian IM Siddharth Ravichandran), two other players who could have caught up, drew with each other.
San Francisco IM Vladimir Mezentsev, who had recovered from a loss to 2094-rated Randel Eng in the first round, slayed IM Mackenzie Molner in a Dragon in the sixth round.


Mezentsev then played "down" with a chance for first -- against GM Varuzhan Akobian, who prevailed.

GM Mesgen Amanov, IM Marc Arnold, and 2328-rated Gregory Young of Northern California joined Smirin, Shabalov, Akobian, and Mitkov in a tie for third. Young won the prize for players rated 2300-2499, and Arun Sharma, who also had five points, won a similar prize for those rated below 2300. Mezentsev, IM Jake Kleiman, and David Zimbeck (who ran up five straight wins after starting 0-2) were second in the Under 2500 category, and veteran FM Andrew Karklins and Doug Eckert tied for second Under 2300.
Most of the winners in the other sections scored 6 1/2: David Zelner of Florida in Under 2100, Mohammad Yousef (last year's Under 1700 winner) in Under 1900, Gordon Higbie of Washington in Under 1700, and Evan Zheng from Hawaii in Under 1500. Under 1300 saw a perfect score, as 59th seed Amado Anchetra of California went 7-0. In Under 1000, Californians Robert Scherer and Daniel Bohnett tied with 6 points.

The Blitz tournament after the last round is one of the standard features of the North American extravaganza. "Only" 79 players (and no GMs!) participated this time, with Canadian IM Jonathan Tayar winning the top section and Zhaozhi Li the Under 1900.
And FM Alex Kretchetov (Mesgen Amanov's last round victim) really deserved a mention for knocking Yury Shulman out of the tournament with his round 6 upset (almost 380 points). Game is in MonRoi. Alex defended a slightly worse position tenaciously, and after the GM missed some more promising moves (37.Qc7, 45.Qc3, and 49.Bd3) used White's weakened king position to force a winning ending.
See full crosstables on the website, northamericanopen.com.