So captures North American chess Open in Las Vegas

Chess grandmaster Wesley So

Chess grandmaster Wesley So

By Bert Eljera

LAS VEGAS- Wesley So defeated grandmaster Tsegmed Batchuluun of Mongolia in the ninth and final round Tuesday, Dec. 30, to easily capture the $10,000 first prize in the 24th North American Open chess championships at Bally’s Casino Resort.

With several hours rest, the fresh-looking So prevailed in 46 moves to score his seventh win against two draws to close out with eight points in the five-day tournament in which he was not threatened in any game.

In the eighth round, he settled for a quick 18-move draw with grandmaster Julio Becerra, a Cuban defector now based in the United States, allowing him some rest in the hectic 9-round tournament in which two rounds were played each day

It was the second draw for the top-seeded So. In the seventh round, he also drew with Chinese GM Xiangzhi Bu after a marathon 89 moves.

So was so dominating his closest pursuers, which included Bu and Becerra, only had 6.5 points.

The victory capped a successful 2014 for the 21-year-old So, who won in three other prestigious tournaments, including the Millionaire Chess Open in the nearby Planet Hotel & Casino, in which the $100,000 first prize was the richest in chess history.

He ended the year with a live rating of 2770.7, good for No. 10 best in the world.

Eight-year-old Alekhine Nouri meanwhile, continued his winning ways, emerging champion in the blitz competition in the Under 1900 section.

In the tournament that lasted until early morning in Las Vegas, and playing against opponents more than half his age, Nouri scored nine wins against one loss to pocket the top prize of $400.

He won $ 818 more by finishing tied for third to ninth places in the regular Under 1900 tournament to which he jumped into after starting his stint in the Under 1700 Section.

He started with a little over 1600 FIDE rating but was listed with 1800 after he joined the Under 1900 Section in which he won four straight and drew the final round.

FIDE Master Alekhine Nouri FACEBOOK PHOTO

FIDE Master Alekhine Nouri FACEBOOK PHOTO





2014 in review

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Filipino prodigy impresses at Las Vegas chess tournament

Eight-year-old Alekhine Nouri

Eight-year-old Alekhine Nouri

By Bert Eljera

LAS VEGAS- Another Filipino chess prodigy is making waves in the 24th North American Open chess tournament at the Bally’s Resort Casino.

Eight-year old Alekhine Nouri jumped sections to a higher level after he scored two straight wins in the Under 1700 he was originally entered.

He won four more games and is among the front-runners in the Under 1900 section, although he was credited with only half points each with his two victories in the under 1700 section.

With five points, he is only a point behind the leader Corbin Gustafson with six points after six rounds.The first prize winner receives $7,000.

Meanwhile, Wesley So was held to a draw after six straight to continue to hold the solo lead in the prestigious Open section.

With the white pieces, So maintained a slight advantage but decided to halve the point with the second seed, Chinese grandmaster Bu Xiangzhi whose rating of 2691, just behind the Filipino’s top-rated 2772.

The draw momentarily stopped the streaking So, who seemed invincible more than half-way through the five-day 9-round Swiss system tournament.

Two rounds are played each day in the tournament which offers $10,000 to the first-place winner, a nice pocket money for So, if he wins, for the Tata Steel super-tournament in the Netherlands.

World champion Magnus Carlsen is playing there, along with some of the best chess players in the world, which promises to be a tough test for So, unlike so far here in Las Vegas.

In the fifth round, playing black, he defeated American grandmaster Sergey Erenburg  in 49 moves of a French Defense, Tarrasch Variation.

With white, he next chopped down a grandmaster from China, Zhou Jianchao, in 52 moves a Roy Lopez opening in the sixth round.

Grandmaster Enrico Sevillano is the second-best Filipino participant with five points while IM Ricardo de Guzman has 4.5 points.

Sevillano and de Guzman are both instructors at the NorCal House of Chess in California, where Nouri is a student.

Born in Negros on December 12, 2005, and named after the great Russian grandmaster Alekhine, Nouri started playing chess at five under the tutelage of his father, Hamed Nouri, himself a FIDE master.

To give his son full attention, Hamed quit his job and moved the family to Metro Manila, where Alekhine earned a scholarship at Far Eastern University.

In June 2013, during the Asean Age Group Chess championships in Thailand, Nouri earned an outright FM title with his victory in the Open 8-under category, making him the youngest Filipino FIDE Master and the youngest FIDE Master in the world.

He and his father moved to California last year and his participation in the Las Vegas tournament is part of his preparations for the World Youth championships next year.

Grandmaster Wesley So (right) playing black against Sergey  Erenburg of the  So won in 49 moves . Photo by Jose Anosa.

Grandmaster Wesley So (right) playing black against Sergey Erenburg of the US. So won in 49 moves. Photo by Jose C. Mario Anosa.


So sprints ahead in Las Vegas chess tournament

so2LAS VEGAS – Grandmaster Wesley So scored two quick victories to sprint into the lead in the 24th North American Open at the Bally Casino Resort, his first competition since deciding to turn full-time chess professional. The 21-year-old So, who decided to drop out of college to concentrate on chess, made short works of his opponent to stamp his class in the five-day, 9-round Swiss system competition in which he is the top seed. Playing the black pieces, he defeated FM Ali Morshedi of the US, in 37 moves of a Sicilian Defense in the first round, and came back with the white pieces to beat another American, IM John Bryant. in 41 moves of a Modern Benoni in the second round. With the twin victories, So took the lead with several others in the chase for the $10,000 first prize in the Open section, a far cry of the $100,000 he won in the Millionaire Chess tournament in the nearby Planet Hotel & Casino in October. So gained 0.8 point from each of his two wins, boosting his live rating to 2763.6, a new personal best, and he remained No.10 in the world. He shares the lead with 13 other players, each with two points after two rounds. Grandmasters Enrico Sevillano and Julio Becerra, IM Ricky de Guzman, and FM Joel Banawa have 1.5 point seach. The Las Vegas stop is a tune-up for So for the Tata Steel super-tournament, starting Jan. 9 in Wijk aan Zee, in the Netherlands, in which world champion Magnus Carlsen of Norway, among others, will be competing. Another Filipino competing is Alekhine Nouri, a chess prodigy now based in California, and considered by many as the next great player from the Philippines. So, who left the National Chess Federation of the Philippines (NCFP) in November 2013 to join the US chess federation, has decided to drop out Webster University in St. Louis, Missiouri, where he was taking a business course. His coaches there, Susan Polgar and Paul Truong, who have been credited for his rise in the world rankings, have only nice words for his departure, although there were some issues of the “timing” and its publication in a chess website. They said they supported the move, but even So’s mother, Leny So, who is based in Canada, questioned whether it was the right one at right time. “Wesley is an adult and he has made his choice. Unfortunately, we could easily imagine better choices, or better ways for him to have expressed his choice or brought it about, ” Lenny So said in an interview with “All we can do as parents is to re-express our hope that he will make well-thought-out choices in the future, and display regard for their effects.” Mindful of his critics, including those back home,So said he hoped everyone will understand his decision. “I wish “concerned” people would stop insisting that “certain others” “advisors” or inhabitants of the evil empire, make my decisions, ” said So in a Facebook posting. “Do you understand that this is an insult to me? I am 21 years old and rise or fall, I make my own decisions.” He adds, “Will I succeed? Will I fail? No one knows the answer to that. I decided I want to play chess professionally. That means taking certain risks. I’m willing to take them.” The first test of that is here in Las Vegas. It will be the first tournament under the U.S. flag for the one-time prodigy from Cavite, now based in Minnesota. solen

Wesley So (GM) 2762 Xiangzhi Bu (GM) 2691 Varuzhan Akobian (GM) 2637 Sergey Erenburg (GM) 2601 Jianchao Zhou (GM) 2587 Mackenzie Molner (GM) 2522 Alex Yermolinsky (GM) 2519 Vladimir Georgiev (GM) 2517 Maxim Dlugy (GM) 2494 Nikola Mitkov (GM) 2482 Enrico M Sevillano (GM) 2465     Will file story today with pictures and quotes. 24th annual NORTH AMERICAN OPEN 26-30 December 2014 Bally’s Casino Resort, Las Vegas, Nevada

Prizes Open Section: $10000-5000-2500-1200-1000-800-600-500-400-400, clear winner or 1st on tiebreak bonus $200, top FIDE Under 2500/Unr $2400-1200. FIDE rated, GM & IM norms possible. 5-Day schedule (9-round FIDE rated Swiss) Rounds 12/26-28 11:30 am & 6 pm, 12/29 10 am & 4 pm, 12/30 10 am. Open Section (Las Vegas, Nevada time) I wish “concerned” people would stop insisting that “certain others” “advisors” or inhabitants of the evil empire, make my decisions. Do you understand that this is an insult to me? I am 21 years old and rise or fall, I make my own decisions. Will I succeed? Will I fail? No one knows the answer to that. I decided I want to play chess professionally. That means taking certain risks. I’m willing to take them. The people who talk most about me, don’t know me at all, so they put out their own opinions as fact. WESLEY SO is in Las Vegas for the North American Open, which will be held at Bally’s Casino Resort starting later today. This is part of his preparations for the Tata Steel super-tournament beginning Jan. 9 in Wijk aan Zee, in the Netherlands… The Open section in the North American Open will be a FIDE-rated, 9-round Swiss System event, with So taking the 5-day schedule. (Many open tournaments in the U.S. have flexible schedules with players from different groups with varying schedules usually merging in the last 2 or 3 rounds for final placings.)… So needs to stretch his chess muscles as his last FIDE-rated tournament was in October, also in Las Vegas, the Millionaire Chess Open, where he won $100,000, the biggest prize money in the history of open competitions. Nine games in five days should be a good workout for So, especially since there are some strong GMs in the event, including Bu Xiangzhi of China and So’s good friend and teammate at the Saint Louis Arch Bishops, Varuzhan Akobian… Of course, So is not calling it a tune-up event out of respect for the tournament organizers and the other competitors. And if he happens to win the $10,000 first prize, that would be a good bonus for making the trip from his new home in snow-bound Minnetonka, Minnesota… FM Alekhine Nouri and his dad, NM Hamed Nouri, spent Christmas on the road so they could also play in Las Vegas. Father and son are now based in San Francisco’s Bay Area, at Ted Castro‘s NorCal House of Chess. Alekhine’s coach at NorCal, GM Enrico Sevillano, will also play at the North American Open. We wish all our compatriots playing in the event the best of luck. Among them are Ruben Jr-Duell Gumagay Ondangan, a former state champion in Hawaii but now a California resident.