Dreev, Kamsky & Nakar Top Vegas, Colas Nabs GM Norm

IMG_0182Continental Chess’s  25th Annual North American Open attracted a near-record 741 players to Bally’s in Las Vegas beginning the day after Christmas. The fine turnout generated a 112.9% increase in the announced prize fund, raising it to almost $135,500. The 108-player Open section included 12 GMs, 19 IMs, one WGM, and two WIMs, with 18 federations represented. Two experienced GMs and one youthful IM emerged on top with 7-2 scores. The second seed, Russian GM Alexey Dreev, 46, a fairly frequent guest in the US (Philadelphia and National Opens this year) was slightly ahead on tiebreaks and picked up a $200 bonus.
IMG_0175 GM Alexey Dreev, Photo Al Losoff
Dreev took a standard route to the top. Not so for the other co-winners! Gata Kamsky, the top seed who’s been at or near the top of the US chess scene for 25 years (albeit with some periods of inactivity), yielded a draw to IM John Daniel Bryant in the second round, but even after further draws with IM Ruifeng Li and GM Jeffery Zhong in Rounds 5 and 6 he was just a half point out of first. Wins over FM Nicolas Checa and GM Victor Mikhalevski then left him tied for the top spot, and a quick draw with Dreev (and the “right” result on Board Two) secured a share of first place. The third player, 22-year-old Israeli IM Eylon Nakar, had an even more trying route to victory. He was upset in Round Two by FM Konstantin Kavutskiy, but then reeled off five straight wins, with Mikhalevski among his victims, and coasted in with draws against Dreev and IM Ruifeng Li (this draw was longer than that on Board One; Nakar would have gotten clear first with a win, and Li would have tied for first and gotten a GM norm).
IMG_0160 Mo Zhai* , Photo Al Losoff  
Nakar holds a US passport but was making only his third appearance here (two November events in Dallas). His fine performance did not quite earn him a GM norm, as he played only two GMs. Nakar modestly says he had no “clear wins”; here is his Round 3 win in which he exploits Black’s errors on moves 21 and 22 to reach a winning ending.
[pgn]

[Event "25th North American Open"]
[Site "Las Vegas"]
[Date "2015.12.28"]
[White "Nakar, Eylon"]
[Black "Viswanadha, Kesav"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "C90"]
[WhiteElo "2476"]
[BlackElo "2366"]
[PlyCount "91"]
[EventDate "2015.12.??"]
[EventRounds "9"]
[EventCountry "USA"]
[Source "MonRoi"]

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O Be7 6. d3 b5 7. Bb3 d6 8. c3
O-O 9. Re1 Na5 10. Bc2 c5 11. Nbd2 Re8 12. Nf1 Bf8 13. Bg5 h6 14. Bh4 Nc6 15.
Ne3 Be7 16. d4 exd4 17. cxd4 Ng4 18. Bxe7 Nxe7 19. h3 Nxe3 20. Rxe3 Ng6 21. Qd2
cxd4 22. Nxd4 Qg5 23. Rd1 Be6 24. Rg3 Qxd2 25. Rxd2 Kf8 26. Nxe6+ Rxe6 27. Rc3
Ra7 28. g3 Ke7 29. Kg2 Re5 30. b4 Nf8 31. f4 Re6 32. Kf3 Nd7 33. Bb3 Rf6 34.
Ke3 g5 35. f5 h5 36. Rdc2 Ne5 37. Rc7+ Rxc7 38. Rxc7+ Kd8 39. Ra7 d5 40. Bxd5
Rd6 41. Ra8+ Ke7 42. Rh8 h4 43. gxh4 gxh4 44. Rxh4 Rd7 45. Rh6 Ra7 46. Kd4 1-0[/pgn]
Dreev, a quarter-finalist in the 1997 world championship, expressed  great satisfaction with the tournament conditions in Las Vegas. In his favorite game, from Round 7, he gets an advantage after 8…g5?!. He likes the unusual knight maneuver beginning with 18.Ng1 (The computer? Not so much…). Black just gets outplayed in the subsequent complications with both kings vulnerable.
[pgn]

[Event "25th North American Open"]
[Site "Las Vegas"]
[Date "2015.12.29"]
[White "Dreev, Alexey"]
[Black "Barbosa, Oliver"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "D11"]
[WhiteElo "2644"]
[BlackElo "2518"]
[PlyCount "91"]
[EventDate "2015.12.??"]
[EventRounds "9"]
[EventCountry "USA"]
[Source "MonRoi"]

1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. e3 Bg4 5. Nc3 e6 6. Qb3 Qb6 7. Nh4 Bh5 8. h3 g5
9. Nf3 h6 10. c5 Qc7 11. Bd3 Rg8 12. Qc2 Nbd7 13. b4 a6 14. Bb2 Bg6 15. Bxg6
Rxg6 16. Ng1 h5 17. Nge2 Bh6 18. Qd3 Qd8 19. Kd1 Ke7 20. Kc2 Qh8 21. f3 Rgg8
22. e4 Rgc8 23. g4 b6 24. e5 Ne8 25. h4 gxh4 26. Rxh4 a5 27. Rxh5 Qf8 28. a3
axb4 29. axb4 Rxa1 30. Bxa1 Nc7 31. Bb2 Ra8 32. f4 Na6 33. Ba3 Nc7 34. Qh3 Bg7
35. Bc1 Na6 36. f5 Nxb4+ 37. Kd1 Ra1 38. f6+ Nxf6 39. exf6+ Bxf6 40. cxb6 Qg8
41. b7 Qg6 42. b8=Q Rxc1+ 43. Nxc1 Qc2+ 44. Ke1 Qxc1+ 45. Ke2 Qc2+ 46. Kf1 1-0[/pgn]
Kamsky, a highly active player lately (and apparently the runaway winner of the Grand Prix), normally has worn his hair close-cropped. He made a major change in 2015; in 2016, who knows? He was also quite happy with the tournament, and, after toying with retirement more than once, admits that it’s hard to quit once chess gets its hooks into you. He’s venturing into some special projects in the near future. He called attention to his queen maneuvering from the queenside to h8 against FM Joshua Colas in the third round.
IMG_0169 Gata Kamsky, Photo Al Losoff
[pgn]

[Event "25th North American Open"]
[Site "Las Vegas"]
[Date "2015.12.27"]
[White "Colas, Joshua"]
[Black "Kamsky, Gata"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "A88"]
[WhiteElo "2245"]
[BlackElo "2669"]
[PlyCount "90"]
[EventDate "2015.12.??"]
[EventRounds "9"]
[EventCountry "USA"]
[Source "MonRoi"]

1. d4 f5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. g3 g6 4. Bg2 Bg7 5. O-O O-O 6. c4 d6 7. Nc3 c6 8. b3 a5
9. Bb2 Na6 10. a3 Bd7 11. Rb1 Qc7 12. d5 e5 13. dxe6 Bxe6 14. Nd4 Bf7 15. e3
Rfe8 16. Re1 Nc5 17. Qc2 Ng4 18. Rbd1 Ne5 19. a4 Qb6 20. Ba3 Rad8 21. h3 h5 22.
Nce2 Ned7 23. Nc1 Nf6 24. Bxc5 Qxc5 25. Nd3 Qb6 26. Nf3 Ne4 27. Nd2 d5 28. c5
Qc7 29. Nf3 Qe7 30. h4 Bc3 31. Rf1 Qf6 32. Ng5 Nxg5 33. hxg5 Qh8 34. Nf4 Be5
35. Ne2 h4 36. gxh4 Bg7 37. Qd3 d4 38. Nxd4 f4 39. Qc2 Bxd4 40. exd4 Qxh4 41.
Qc3 Qxg5 42. Rfe1 Bd5 43. f3 Re3 44. Rxe3 fxe3 45. Rf1 Re8 0-1[/pgn]
GM Jeffrey Xiong, Barbosa, Li, Colas, GM Jianchou Zhou, IM Chen Wang, and FM Cameron Wheeler tied for fourth with 6½ point; Xiong, who was actually the clear leader after five rounds with 4½. Colas and Wheeler split Under 2400 honors. (FIDE ratings were used for the Open section.)
Colas Josh Colas, Photo Al Losoff
And that brings us to a second focus – the triumph of youth in the race for title norms. Colas secured a GM norm with room to spare, and Wheeler got his second IM norm. Colas, 17, was seeded only 61st after some subpar performances, but kicked off with upsets of Barbosa and FM Joshua Sheng. He later took down WGM Jue Wang, IM Denys Shmelov, and GM Bai Jinshi, before drawing with Li and Jeffrey Xiong in the final rounds. (In the latter game, a win for either player would have added a name to the first place tie.) Here’s the Round 7 upset. Black’s risky pawn grab (5…c6 or 5…Ne4 are more circumspect) is duly punished.
[pgn]

[Event "25th North American Open"]
[Site "Las Vegas"]
[Date "2015.12.29"]
[White "Colas, Joshua"]
[Black "Jinshi, Bai"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "D91"]
[WhiteElo "2245"]
[BlackElo "2502"]
[PlyCount "135"]
[EventDate "2015.12.??"]
[EventRounds "9"]
[EventCountry "USA"]
[Source "MonRoi"]

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 d5 4. Nf3 Bg7 5. Bg5 dxc4 6. e4 c5 7. d5 b5 8. e5 b4
9. exf6 exf6 10. Qe2+ Kf8 11. Be3 bxc3 12. Bxc5+ Kg8 13. bxc3 Bb7 14. Qe7 Qc8
15. Bxc4 Ba6 16. Bxa6 Nxa6 17. Bd4 Qc4 18. Qe2 Qxe2+ 19. Kxe2 f5 20. Kd3 Rc8
21. Rab1 Bxd4 22. Kxd4 Nc5 23. c4 Kg7 24. Rhe1 Rc7 25. Ne5 Rd8 26. Rb5 Ne6+ 27.
Ke3 f4+ 28. Ke4 Nc5+ 29. Kd4 Nb7 30. Reb1 Nd6 31. Rb8 Nf5+ 32. Kd3 Rd6 33. R1b7
Rxb7 34. Rxb7 Ra6 35. c5 Ra3+ 36. Kc4 Rxa2 37. d6 Rc2+ 38. Kd5 Rd2+ 39. Kc6
Nd4+ 40. Kd7 Ne6 41. c6 Nc5+ 42. Ke7 Nxb7 43. d7 Rb2 44. cxb7 Rxb7 45. Kd6 Rb1
46. Kc7 Rd1 47. Nc6 f3 48. gxf3 Kf6 49. d8=Q+ Rxd8 50. Kxd8 Kf5 51. Ke7 Kf4 52.
Nd4 f5 53. Kf6 a5 54. Kg7 h5 55. Kxg6 h4 56. Kh5 h3 57. Kh4 a4 58. Kxh3 a3 59.
Kg2 a2 60. Nc2 Kg5 61. f4+ Kxf4 62. h3 Kg5 63. Kg3 Kh5 64. h4 Kh6 65. Kf4 Kg6
66. f3 Kf6 67. h5 Ke6 68. Kg5 1-0[/pgn]
And in Round 5 against the Ukrainian IM, Colas uncorks an attractive opposite bishops attack after White begins to go wrong with 17.a3.
[pgn]

[Event "25th North American Open"]
[Site "Las Vegas"]
[Date "2015.12.28"]
[White "Shmelov, Denys"]
[Black "Colas, Joshua"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "E32"]
[WhiteElo "2420"]
[BlackElo "2245"]
[PlyCount "96"]
[EventDate "2015.12.??"]
[EventRounds "9"]
[EventCountry "USA"]
[Source "MonRoi"]

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. Qc2 O-O 5. e4 d5 6. e5 Ne4 7. Bd3 c5 8. Nf3
cxd4 9. Nxd4 f5 10. exf6 Nxf6 11. cxd5 exd5 12. O-O Nc6 13. Nce2 Bd7 14. Nxc6
bxc6 15. Bf4 Qe7 16. Bg3 Rae8 17. a3 Bc5 18. Rac1 Bb6 19. Nc3 g6 20. Na4 Nh5
21. Nc5 Bf5 22. b4 Bxc5 23. Bxf5 Nxg3 24. hxg3 Bb6 25. Bg4 Qg5 26. Qd1 Rf6 27.
Rc2 Ref8 28. a4 h5 29. a5 Be3 30. Re2 Qxg4 31. Rxe3 Rxf2 32. Rfe1 Qxb4 33. Qd3
R2f6 34. a6 Qb5 35. Qxb5 cxb5 36. Rb3 Rxa6 37. Rxb5 Rd6 38. Rb7 Rf7 39. Re8+
Kg7 40. Ree7 Rxe7 41. Rxe7+ Kf6 42. Rxa7 d4 43. Kf2 d3 44. Ke1 d2+ 45. Kd1 Kg5
46. Ra3 Kg4 47. Rf3 g5 48. Re3 Rf6 0-1[/pgn]
Wheeler, 14 and a member of the Cupertino scholastic dynasty in Northern California, had a drastic win against GM-elect Darwin Yang, also in Round 7. Wheeler’s enterprising pawn sac secures a slight advantage, and Yang could have improved with 20…Ra7. 21…Qd6?? goes completely off the rails, and the denouement comes soon.
[pgn]

[Event "25th North American Open"]
[Site "Las Vegas"]
[Date "2015.12.29"]
[White "Wheeler, Cameron"]
[Black "Yang, Darwin"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "E04"]
[WhiteElo "2369"]
[BlackElo "2473"]
[PlyCount "51"]
[EventDate "2015.12.??"]
[EventRounds "9"]
[EventCountry "USA"]
[Source "MonRoi"]

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. g3 d5 4. Nf3 dxc4 5. Bg2 Bb4+ 6. Bd2 a5 7. Na3 Bxa3 8.
bxa3 a4 9. O-O b5 10. Qb1 c6 11. Ne5 Nd5 12. e4 Nf6 13. Qb2 O-O 14. f4 Qc7 15.
g4 Rd8 16. g5 Ne8 17. f5 exf5 18. exf5 f6 19. Ng4 Nd7 20. Rae1 fxg5 21. Re7 Qd6
22. Bb4 c5 23. Re6 Qf8 24. dxc5 Rb8 25. c6 Nc5 26. Qe5 1-0[/pgn]
IMG_0195 Kostya Kavutskiy,  Photo Al Losoff 
Kavutskiy, 23, has ties to both Southern and Northern California, and occasionally writes for US Chess. This was his second norm. Here is afore-mentioned upset of Nakar, a gritty performance in which Kavutskiy is worse after 14.Qd2, recovers around move 20 and builds up a winning attack. But he falters with 43.Nxc7, a faulty piece sac after which it appears that 45…Nxb3 46.Qxf6 Bxa4 47.Qe6+ Qf7 48.Qxh6 Qe7 49.Ka2 Nc1+ 50.Kb1 Bxc2+ 51.Kxc2 Qe2+ leads to perpetual check. In the game continuation, White’s king finds safety and Black’s does not.
[pgn]

[Event "25th North American Open"]
[Site "Las Vegas"]
[Date "2015.12.26"]
[White "Kavutskiy, Konstantin"]
[Black "Nakar, Eylon"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "E81"]
[WhiteElo "2360"]
[BlackElo "2476"]
[PlyCount "101"]
[EventDate "2015.12.??"]
[EventRounds "9"]
[EventCountry "USA"]
[Source "MonRoi"]

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. e4 O-O 5. Nge2 d6 6. f3 a6 7. Be3 Nbd7 8. a4
a5 9. g4 e5 10. d5 Ne8 11. Ng3 Bf6 12. Bd3 Nc5 13. Bc2 Bg5 14. Qd2 Bxe3 15.
Qxe3 Qh4 16. O-O-O Ng7 17. Rdf1 f6 18. Nb5 Na6 19. Ne2 Kh8 20. h3 Bd7 21. f4
exf4 22. Rxf4 Rf7 23. Rg1 Raf8 24. Ned4 Qh6 25. Qf2 Ne8 26. h4 Nc5 27. Kb1 Kg8
28. Nc3 Re7 29. Rf1 Qg7 30. Nd1 Rff7 31. Ne3 Qf8 32. Qg2 Ng7 33. b3 Qd8 34. h5
g5 35. R4f2 h6 36. Nef5 Nxf5 37. exf5 Re5 38. Ne6 Qb8 39. Re2 Rxe2 40. Qxe2 b6
41. Rf3 Re7 42. Re3 Re8 43. Nxc7 Rxe3 44. Qxe3 Qxc7 45. Qe7 Qb8 46. Qxf6 Qf8
47. Qg6+ Qg7 48. Qxd6 Qc3 49. Qg6+ Kf8 50. f6 Qe1+ 51. Ka2 1-0[/pgn]
Another norm went to 18-year-old FM Alexander Velikanov of Wisconsin, whose performance was impressive enough that even a last-round loss to FM Nicolas Checa (who in turn missed a norm because he didn’t play the requisite third titled player) didn't stop him. In Round 4, he gets a pawn and the attack after Black’s erroneous 15th move (15…c4 improves) and turns it into a winning endgame.
[pgn]

[Event "25th North American Open"]
[Site "Las Vegas"]
[Date "2015.12.27"]
[White "Velikanov, Alexander"]
[Black "Kiewra, Keaton"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "D56"]
[WhiteElo "2324"]
[BlackElo "2444"]
[PlyCount "165"]
[EventDate "2015.12.??"]
[EventRounds "9"]
[EventCountry "USA"]
[Source "MonRoi"]

1. d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 d5 3. c4 e6 4. Nc3 Be7 5. Bg5 h6 6. Bh4 O-O 7. e3 Ne4 8. Bxe7
Qxe7 9. Rc1 c6 10. g4 Nd7 11. h4 c5 12. cxd5 Nxc3 13. Rxc3 exd5 14. g5 h5 15.
Bg2 g6 16. dxc5 Nxc5 17. Qxd5 Na4 18. Rc1 Rd8 19. Qb5 Bd7 20. Qb3 Nb6 21. O-O
Bc6 22. a3 Rd6 23. Qc3 Rad8 24. Qe5 Qd7 25. Qg3 Qf5 26. b4 Rd3 27. Rc5 Qe6 28.
b5 Be8 29. Qe5 Qg4 30. Rc7 R3d5 31. Qe7 Nc8 32. Qf6 R5d6 33. Qc3 Rd3 34. Qf6
R3d6 35. Qc3 Rd3 36. Qc1 Rb3 37. Nd4 Rd3 38. f3 Qxh4 39. Rxc8 Rxc8 40. Qxc8
Rxe3 41. f4 Qg3 42. f5 Re7 43. fxg6 fxg6 44. Nf3 Kh7 45. Qc4 Bd7 46. Qc5 Rg7
47. Qe5 Qxe5 48. Nxe5 Bxb5 49. Rf6 Be8 50. Re6 Bb5 51. Be4 Rc7 52. Rxg6 Rc1+
53. Kh2 Re1 54. Rb6+ Rxe4 55. Rxb7+ Kg8 56. Rxb5 Ra4 57. Kh3 a6 58. Rb8+ Kg7
59. Rb7+ Kg8 60. Re7 Kf8 61. Re6 Kg7 62. Kg3 Re4 63. Kf3 Ra4 64. Rg6+ Kf8 65.
Rh6 Kg7 66. Rxh5 Rxa3+ 67. Kf4 Ra1 68. Rh3 a5 69. Rc3 Rf1+ 70. Nf3 Rb1 71. Rc7+
Kg8 72. Ra7 Ra1 73. Ne5 a4 74. Kf5 a3 75. Kg6 Kf8 76. Nd7+ Ke7 77. Nf6+ Kd6 78.
Kf7 Kc5 79. g6 Kb4 80. g7 Rg1 81. g8=Q Rxg8 82. Kxg8 Kb3 83. Nd5 1-0[/pgn]
Other IM norms were secured by FM Sean Vibbert of Indiana (his third, though he needs to increase his rating before the title can be awarded) and FM Michael Song of Canada. WFM Ramya Inapuri of Arizona got a WIM norm. As for the rest of the tournament…the Under 2300 section had a tie for first, with Conrado Diaz, Anant Dole, Nicky Korba, and Hugo Miguel Padilla scoring 5½ of 7. In Under 2100, a very active (this was his 67th event of 2015) 11-year-old, Samrug Narayanan of Minnesota, tallied 6½ to won by a point. This was the largest section, with 138 players. Under 1900 saw a five-way tie among Robert Asibor, Justin Liang, Jason Ochoa, Vikram Ramasamy, and Michael Su, who all scored 6. Texan Tharun Natarajan stood alone atop Under 1700 with 6½. In Under 1500, Nicholas Gross of Arizona achieved the only perfect 7-0 score in the entire tournament, winning by 1½ points and picking up 204 rating points – love those bonuses! A more modest score of 6 split Under 1250 honors between Kesavan Shan of Texas and Northern Californian Ryan Yao. And two teams tied for Mixed Doubles honors with 10½ out of 14: Adia Onyango-James and James Canty; and Daniel Bohnett and Stephanie Ballom. And the Blitz also had a great turnout: 176 players. Sixteen-year-old IM Andrew Tang of Minnesota went 9-1 in the Open section of the double round robin, finishing a half point ahead of Chinese GM Jianchao Zhou and the untitled Jianwen Wong of Malaysia. In Under 1900, 8½ earned clear first for ten-year-old Harvey Zhu of Houston. Such a large tournament is bound to generate an instructive anecdote or two. A top player who shall remain nameless sought to dispel the stereotype that GMs never bring equipment. However, he didn’t know how to set the clock he brought…and dispatched his opponent to find someone who did! One arbiter had a déjà vu when a player complained that his young opponent, facing immediate mate, wouldn’t move. The opponent explained that he had offered a draw, which had been accepted. “Did you offer it quietly?” asked the arbiter. “Yes, I didn’t want to disturb people.” “Well, your opponent assumed you were resigning – which is what I’d do in your position.” The young player then tipped his king, and the arbiter had the last word: “OK, now shake hands.” Hope his coach didn’t teach him that trick! *An earlier version of this article misidentified Mo Zhai.  Post-tournament ratings can be viewed here. Final standings, prize awards, and game file are here http://www.northamericanopen.com/  Thanks to Al Losoff and Breck Haining for photography and to Jon Haskel for inputting MonRoi games. Hope to see you at an even bigger North American Open  next December.

Comments

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

A couple of corrections: Jeffery's last name is Xiong, not Zhong. The Chinese girl in picture is Mo Zhai, not Jue Wang.

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Cameron Wheeler is actually 15 Years old, not 14.

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I enjoyed the move to the more spacious ballroom with the pairings right next door instead of going up and down the escalator on the other side of Bally's as in years past. Bill Goichberg puts on a tremendous event and should be commended. What a great turnout! It is exciting to play in such a large event and it was very well maganged as usual for a Goichberg event. Where would chess be without him?? I hope they can keep the same room for next year.

Add new comment

Restricted HTML

  • Allowed HTML tags: <a href hreflang> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote cite> <code> <ul type> <ol start type> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <h2 id> <h3 id> <h4 id> <h5 id> <h6 id>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Web page addresses and email addresses turn into links automatically.

Plain Text Comments

Share Your Feedback

We recently completed a website update. If you notice a formatting error on this page, please click here.