Hello from Bally's Las Vegas, site of the North American Open. The hotel lies in the center of the world famous Las Vegas Strip. The Eiffel Tower (photo above) stands outside my window and Bellagio is just across the street. Indeed, Bally's appears to be an appropriate venue for one of the biggest prize funds on the American chess calendar. I expect to see nearly 600 players and upwards of a half dozen Grandmasters. The winners last year were GM Hikaru Nakamura and Berkeley native IM David Pruess. Regretably, Nakamura will not attend due to a commitment in Norway against GM Magnus Carlsen!
Check here for the official website and, hopefully, some live coverage via the MonRoi system. The first round of the main schedule (4-day) begins at 6pm tonight. I hit the jackpot with the round 1 pairings a year ago and was duly crushed by GM Nakamura. Whom will I face this year? Nine of my students and a number of other Bay Area players have already signed up for the final tournament of 2008. Wish us all luck! And check back this weekend for a couple of blog updates between rounds.