The 20th annual North American Open chess tournament was held December 26-29 at Bally’s Casino Resort in Las Vegas.  The seven round event with 670 players was divided into seven sections.  Giorgi Kacheishivili, originally from the Republic of Georgia now living in New York, and Jiri Stocek, Czech Republic, topped the Open section of 131 players with 6-1 scores.  Like a phoenix I returned from a disastrous 0-2 start in the Under 1900 section to win three games and draw two, finishing close to my expected norm with 4 points.  While I have played in 49 chess tournaments since 1991, one of my opponents, with whom I drew, has played in 352.  My youngest opponent, currently the 27th best 10 year old chess player in the U.S., played more book moves in the King’s Gambit but lost after he exchanged a pawn in the middle of the board which opened a file and long diagonal.  My last round draw found me better after the opening but losing the thread of the game (and a bishop) in the middle game.  I almost resigned.  A passed pawn kept me in the game and when my opponent won one of my pawns I was able to win back the bishop.  The resulting Rook and pawn ending will provide me with an opportunity to for further study.  Congratulations to Mohammad Yousef, Florida, who received $8,000 for winning the section with an impressive 6.5-0.5 record.  A major chess tournament such as this one is a great opportunity to play opponents at a similar skill level.

Bally's

Bally's

Bally’s, centrally located on the Strip, offered a low daily rate but no in-room coffee or free wi-fi.  The dancing water on the 8-acre lake in front of the Ballatio entertained us in lieu of a show.  Neon lights still decorate the night as crowds slowly stroll the sidewalk.  New street entertainers vie for tips.  Two African American entertainers crooned Temptation tunes in the Hawaiian open air pavilion.  The food was generally very good, if pricey.  Buffets are more expensive than in the old days and long waits to be seated are the norm.  As we departed, Las Vegas was warmly bracing to bring in the New Year.  Our return drive took much longer than anticipated because a snow storm passed through the previous day leaving some roads closed.  In fact, I40 opened just as we arrived at what had been its detour junction.  In many spots only one lane was clear.  Later, 89A, which had also been closed, was snow packed at the higher elevations.  Fortunately, our Lexus RX350 had no trouble navigating the snow and ice.  2010 has been a great year.  Here’s to a Happy New Year!

Advertisements