The International Chess Festival in Las Vegas, Nevada is known as “The Chess Vacation of the Year!” With tournaments, simultaneous chess exhibitions, lectures, a chess camp, and side events such as blitz, there is enough chess to keep anyone entertained from June 11-16, 2019. By commenting on this article, you may win a $25 gift certificate, good toward a side event entry fee or for merchandise/food from on-site vendors.
Two-time U.S. Women’s Chess Champion Jennifer Shahade is the Women’s Chess Program Director for US Chess and a special guest of the International Chess Festival. The International Chess Festival has been organized by Alan and Janelle Losoff since its previous organizer, Fred Gruenberg, retired in 2009. I interviewed Alan and Janelle via email about the International Chess Festival and how it promotes women and girls in chess.
Root: Tell me about the special women guests (Jennifer Shahade, Carla Heredia) and what each will be doing during the International Chess Festival.
Losoffs: WGM Jennifer Shahade will be the guest host of the International Youth Championship. She will speak at the opening and closing ceremonies and will give a simultaneous chess exhibition just for the kids on Saturday night. The International Youth Championship typically has an all-female staff: Chief TD [tournament director] Elizabeth Tanner, Floor Chief Donna Wallach, Floor TDs Cassandra Tanner and Amy Nunn, with “token male” Glenn Panner as the back-room TD.
WGM Carla Heredia will be playing in the US Women’s Open, the National Open, and will be one of the instructors at our one-day Grandmaster Chess Camp. She joins GM Ron Henley, IM John Donaldson, GM Melik Khaciyan and GM Fidel Corrales on the faculty.
Root: Tell me about the U.S. Women’s Open.
Losoffs: We were asked to take over the U.S. Women’s Open in 2014 by then-US Chess President Ruth Haring and acting US Chess Executive Director Franc Guadalupe. The tournament had not been successful as a US Chess-run side event to the U.S. Open. The U.S. Women’s Open has grown from 11 players the last time US Chess ran it to 44 players as part of the International Chess Festival in 2018.
The 2019 U.S. Women’s Open is FIDE rated. Its Chief TD is Karen Pennock. As of mid-May 2019, three WGMs and players from five federations are registered.
Root: Can women participate in both the U.S. Women’s Open and other International Chess Festival events?
Losoffs: Yes. The schedule is designed to allow women and girls to play in all of our other events. Also, the National Open offers $3,000 in mixed doubles prizes, for combined score for Male/Female Teams with an average rating below 2200.
Root: Do you have a favorite game played in last year’s 2018 U.S. Women’s Open?
Losoffs: Several of the games were published in our daily newsletter. We don’t have a favorite but if we have to pick, the decisive game between the tournament winner Saikhanchimeg Tsogtsaikhan and Julia Sevilla would be it.
Sevilla kept fighting, even when two pawns down. After White’s move 70. Kb6, what stalemating attempt did Black come up with?
Answer: 70…Rb7+, because if 71. cxb7, Black is stalemated. However, White found the correct reply and won the game.
Readers, here is your chance to win a $25 gift certificate! Comment below, by Monday, May 27, by filling in the blank at the end of this sentence: “I’m going to the International Chess Festival because ________”