2008 National Open (Las Vegas, USA)
The 2008 National Open/Las Vegas Chess Festival starts tonight and is perhaps the most entertaining tournament in the land. World Championship contender Gata Kamsky will be present to compete and to give exhibitions. He will play Veselin Topalov in the fall for the right to play the winner of the Anand-Kramnik match. The match will take place in Lvov, the Ukraine and the funding has been secured.
Susan Polgar will also be present and will host a number of events including both Girls’ and Boys’ Championships. The winners will vie for a scholarship to Texas Tech. There will also be a camp and a puzzle-solving contest. (see events)
The National Open has been hosted by Fred Gruenberg for the past 15 years since he became noted for his “Put the Fun Back into Chess” tournaments in Chicago. Those tournament featured complimentary snacks throughout the tournament, raffles and all types of surprises. He decided to take his show on the road to Vegas and the tournament has been a success. Players from all over the country and world will partake in the $100,000 tournament and no doubt will test their skill at poker and other diversions.
Official Site: https://www.vegaschessfestival.com/natlopen/
Josh Friedel and Hikaru Nakamura are playing in round three of the National Open. Friedel beat Nakamura at the Chicago Open in a very interesting game. Nakamura will be looking for the “W”, but currently Friedel is pressing after 21.Bb3. Another interesting matchup is Varuzhan Akobian vs. Ray Robson.
Tate struggles to a draw after dominating throughout. He missed several chances including 28…Nf3+! and the pretty 43…Ne1!!
Hikaru Nakamura had a tough tournament. He lost to IM David Pruess and was held a couple of times to end on 4/6. There was a six-way tie for 1st lead by Gata Kamsky. Following is another Tate slugfest. He has played 1.f4 a few times lately and gets a nice attack. However, Okey Iwu simply missed 36.Nf4! Kamsky and Josh Friedel play to a bitter ending and Laurent Fressinet of France puts the squeeze on Alex Yermolinsky in a nice example of positional play.
The National Open this year was an interesting experience for me. For the first time since December 2004, I went to Las Vegas and did not lose rating points! I met Rene Phillips in person for the first time, and also had a brief chat with IM Tate before and after our game. Glenn Bady added this to his string of solid tournament results, and is back in “Drum Major land”.
I think there will be “fire on the Philadelphian mountain” come Independence day weekend!
I just got off the phone with Rene Phillips and he told me about a couple incidents. The main one occurred in the Game/10 tournament where he was beating GM Zviad Izoria soundly. Izoria, down to seconds, claimed Phillips touched his king and snapped off his rook. Somone got the tournament director (Betsy Dynako), Phillips explained it was an incidental contact and not an issue of picking up the piece. There were about 40 witnesses including several Grandmasters.
At this point Izoria had one second left and no doubt would lose if play resumed. Dynako ruled the game a draw!! Amazing! Everyone was confused and despite appealing to other TDs, the game was recorded as a draw. Phillips stated that when he approached the other TDs, he was met with rudeness and arrogance. When bystanders were asking how the game was ruled a draw, no one knew! Walter Brown later heard what had happened and they promise to refund him his entry fee. This never happened.
I have seen many controversial decisions, but this one sounds as bad as what happened to Shane Matthews against Tomi Nyback at the 2006 Chess Olympiad.