After beating four Grandmasters (Nikola Mitkov, Jaan Ehlvest, Merab Gagunashvili, Atanas Kolev) and tallying a perfect 5-0 score, Gonzalez played Hikaru Nakamura in a long 84-move finale lasting until 1:00am. Apparently fatigue got the best of the Cuban-born player and he allowed Nakamura to wrest the winning initiative after accepting a pawn sacrifice with 64…Nxe3? (see game) Despite the loss, Gonzalez was the star of the tournament after having led throughout. He settled for joint 2nd with five other players on 5-1. Unfortunately, he could not qualify for a GM norm in the six-round tournament, but it will give him momentum as he prepares to travel to Spain to get his 3rd and final norm.
Nakamura emerged victorious after coming off of subpar showings at both Foxwoods Open and the U.S. Championship. It appeared as if he would stumble once again after being held in a wild battle with IM Enrico Sevilliano. Going into the last round against Gonzalez, he needed a win and showed his mettle by playing for a win in a roughly equal position. The game drew a crowd of spectators since it would decide on the prize allocation. After Nakamura won the marathon battle, he quipped that he finally played "real" openings this tournament, a divergence from his 2.Qh5 and Alekhine openings. He was surprised that his fans were in firm support of him despite his apparent lack of fire in the two tournaments aforementioned. According to a report at uschess.org, Nakamura stated that he is more determined and will come to the World Open with a will to win.
Coverage, Photos, Games (Monroi)
Jennifer Shahade, "Hikaru takes Vegas," uschess.org, 12 June 2007.
Jennifer Shahade, "Kolev and Gonzalez lead in Vegas," uschess.org, 10 June 2007.
Jennifer Shahade, "National Open heats up," uschess.org, 9 June 2007.