Six tie for first in Sin City

by ChessBase
6/12/2013 – Las Vegas hosted its annual festival, with grandmasters flocking from all over the continent to participate and enjoy the city. Wesley So completed a hat trick by winning the g/10 championship, the main event and the blitz. Among the attractions of the festival was a blitz tournament for grandmasters, were every participant received half a gallon of alcohol. Summary and pictures.

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The Las Vegas Chess Festival took place from June 6th to June 9th at the Riviera Hotel and Casino. The event, held in the famous Las Vegas Boulevard, (known as "the Strip") featured a series of tournaments, simultaneous exhibitions, lectures and scholastic camps, and even a poker and pinball tournament.

The Riviera is one of the oldest and most famous casino/resorts in Las Vegas, which opened in 1955.

The tournaments kicked off with the National Game in 10 minutes Championship. With a first prize of $1700, over 20 grandmasters participated and at the end Wesley So and Varuzhan Akobian tied for first with 7/8. 

The main event started its three day section on Friday, with Ray Robson being the highest rated player (by USCF ratings).

At 2698 USCF, Robson was the tournament favorite before the two-day section started.

GM Ruben Felgaer traveled from Argentina to experience an American tournament and enjoy Las Vegas.

The tournament became even stronger in the two day schedule as six grandmasters joined the event. Among those was Wesley So, the only 2700+ FIDE in the event. So had to give up half a point in his schedule as GM Margvelashvili from Georgia held him to a draw in round two.

After the two day players played their three rapid games, they merged with the three day schedule and played their fourth round of the day. At the end of the day GM Gelashvili had a half point lead over his competition, and was the only perfect score with 4/4.

With a positional win against IM Mac Molner from Arizona, Gelashvili came out unscathed from his first four rounds.A hiatus was taken after the fourth round, as several grandmasters (all over the age of 21!) were invited to participate in the first annual Rumskey Challenge. Despite how brutal the schedule was, with some players playing over eleven games of chess that day, the tournament attracted eight players. Every participant was given a bottle of Rumskey, the sponsor of the challenge. Elshan Moradiabadi scored a fantastic 6/7 and obtained first place, only losing a full point to second place winner Alejandro Ramirez.

One bottle of Rumskey for every participant of the challenge: also known as 'a lot of alcohol'.The main tournament had display boards done the old fashioned way for the first six boards!
Mackenzie Molner had a great event with a solid 4.5/6, beating Lenderman in the last round.
On round five Wesley So was able to defeat Gelashvili and took the lead with Manuel Leon Hoyos and Alejandro Ramirez, who dispatched Lenderman and Felgaer respectively. A quick draw in the last round allowed  Ramirez and So to obtain a share of first, as Leon Hoyos was also held to a half point by Webster teammate Ray Robson.

GM Ramirez is very suspicious of So's intentions. The resulting exchange Slav ended in quick peace.

The Webster trio: GMs Ray Robson, Wesley So and Manuel Leon Hoyos analyze a game that could have given the Mexican GM clear first.

With the top players only scoring 5/6, the winner of the games Gelashvili-Ehlvest, Mikhalevski-Akobian and Corrales-Sevillano could potentially catch them. Interestingly, all of these games ended in a black victory and Ehlvest, Akobian and Sevillano joined the winner circle.

Wesley So took the tournament on tiebreaks, but split the money with Ehlvest, Ramirez, Akobian, Sevillano and Leon Hoyos.

After the tournament, some brave souls played yet another event. The blitz championship was held Sunday night and again Wesley So emerged victorious. 

The festival will be held next year on the same dates, again in the Riviera hotel. You can find newsletters, results and more information about next year's festival at the official website.

All pictures courtesy of Chris Bird and the Las Vegas Chess Festival.

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