Akobian and Van Wely Share First in National Open
By Kostya Kavutskiy   
June 13, 2011
GM Akobian with the Edmondson Cup, which he won on tiebreak over Van Wely. Photo added 6/14
 Before we get to the chess, I'd like to take note at how the organizers, tournament directors, and staff all take pride in their work in making the Las Vegas Chess Festival one of the best events every year. Rightly so, they did a fantastic job in making the National Open one of the premier chess tournaments in the United States.

To the chess: GM Varuzhan Akobian (above) and GM Loek Van Wely (below) both scored 5/6 and shared 1st place, both taking home $4800. They accomplished this by winning their last round games over GM Giorgi Kacheishvili and IM Zhanibek Amanov, respectively.
Play through the Van Wely game below. (Editor's Note-Look for Akobian's game in an updated version of this article.)

akobiankach.jpg The other 2 games between leaders from the final round, GM Shankland – GM Gareyev and GM Robson – GM Atalik, ended peacefully despite high tension and complexities in the middlegame.

Clear first in the U2200 went to Bryan Hu, with 5.5/6, and Robert Bagdasaryan took down the U2000 section, also scoring 5.5/6. For all winners and final standings visit www.vegaschessfestival.com. Also replay through many games from the Championship section from all rounds and see Chris Bird's National Open Newsletters.

To the side events: If it's one thing the International Chess Festival is known for, it's the large number of side events offered to the players, spectators, and general tourists. The action started on Thursday with the quick chess events, already handsomely recapped here on CLO. Meanwhile, GM Ray Robson gave a simul to 22 players and apparently blasted them out of the room, with a very respectable score of 22-0. GM Larry Kaufman gave a Chess 960 simul to 6 players, ceding a draw only to Nicholas Rosenthal. A Chess 960 simul--as in every board in the simul had a different starting position.

You'd be quite naive to think those were the only extra-curricular activities offered at a tournament aptly titled the International Chess Festival. All throughout the weekend, countless hours were spent by GM Ron Henley and GM Melikset Khachiyan, taking turns hosting a show every round called “Analysis of Your Games”, where players of all levels would bring in their game to be analyzed. When I say “countless hours”, I really do mean it is quite improbable to count them. Apparently at one of the sessions GM Henley went 2 hours over his scheduled time slot to continue analyzing games. So how much time was spent by world-class grandmasters going over everyone's games free of charge? We'll never know...find out next year!

Furthermore, GM Henley delivered two very interesting lectures titled “Win Like Kasparov!”, and “Crushing 1. d4, the Dzindzi-Indian”. NTD Tim Just also gave his annual lecture, “Rulebook Tactics”. Moreover, Grandmasters Henley, Khachiyan and Ben Finegold acted as the trainers for the International Chess Camp, which was held on Thursday for players of all ages. Sticking with scholastic events, the International Youth Championship was held on Saturday and Sunday, with guest host GM Ray Robson signing books for all of his young fans—also they played a bunch of chess as many of them were registered for both the International Youth Championship and the National Open.

If that wasn't enough, there's a poker tournament, open to all the chess players, that is happening as you read on this Monday.

If an exciting tournament atmosphere and plenty of fun side events isn't enough to get you to go to this next year, consider that the organizers also raffled off all kinds of chess prizes before each round. Prizes ranging anywhere from clocks to software to artwork to chess-themed ties to Las Vegas vacation packages were given away to players from all sections. I'll never forget the line uttered during one of these giveaways from the 2009 National Open: “Tigran Petrosian wins a chess set!” Honestly it was almost frustrating at how much stuff was just being handed out—all you had to do was show up!

The next round is at 10 am, June 15, 2012, come join the 1000+ chess players who enjoyed this festival!

See tournament detals on the official website and look for the Chess Life Magazine report by IM Irina Krush.