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.