[From DM: The following fine post was written by Daniel Parmet, whose chess accomplishments include a very decent 2368 correspondence rating with the ICCF. I am much obliged for his gracious willingness to help pitch in while I recuperate.]
Greetings readers, I will be making a few guest blog posts for Dennis while he recovers.
Most people think of Hawaii as a dream vacation. Hawaii is the number one honeymoon vacation spot in the world. The Hawaii International Festival finished up 2 days ago. The open tournament was won by GM Hovhannes Gabuzyan who started with 5/5(!) drawing his last round game to win 5.5/6. There were 113 players from numerous countries and 7 GMs in the Open section.
The accompanying blitz event was won by GMs won by Ramirez and Shankland. According to the organizers, the event was “held at the Hilton Waikiki Beach on the island of Oahu, the main purpose of the festival is to raise interest and funds for Hawaii's emerging Scholastic Chess Programs, and specifically to eventually build the Hawaii Chess Center and Scholastic Academy.”
This event seemed to be a real festival – full of numerous fun side events. In addition to the Open 6 round Swiss that had a reserve and novice section, there were simuls by GMs Sam Shankland & Alejandro Ramirez, a 10 board blind simul by Timur Gareev, blitz side events, tandem games with Women’s World Champion and the crown jewel was the Hawaii Grandmaster Challenge.
This last event was a double round robin of blitz and rapid including GMs Sam Shankland, Hou Yifan, Timur Gareev and local IM Shinya Kojima who earned his spot by winning a fundraising raffle. The only games from the festival I was able to locate came from the rapid section. Shankland started off hot with a win in round 1 over Gareev, a win in round 2 over Hou Yifan. In round 3, the local hero held Goliath to a draw. The game I would encourage readers to review (with my notes) is the round 4 rematch between Gareev and Shankland. [DM: All three games can be replayed here.] The topsy-turvy game started with 1. d4 Nf6 2. g4. Certainly Gareev’s unusual opening choice was partly influenced by the time control and from the round 1 loss to Shankland. From the perspective of this amateur, it is good to see top GMs proving that the opening only matters so much. I know many of my peers love to spend majority of their precious time learning only openings to the detriment of more important pieces for their game. The real reason I annotated the game is not a soapbox! There are some fun positions that occur later that are almost study like positions.
Finally, a question to the readership of this blog, where is the most awesome location you’ve ever played a chess festival or tournament? Hawaii seems like an amazing opportunity! However, I have to state that I once asked GM Larry Christiansen this question and his answer surprised me. I was prepared for a Greek Island or somewhere in Europe. However, he said he once played a FIDE rated tournament in the middle of a vineyard of Napa Valley. The natural follow up question was if participants were provided any the vineyard’s wine. You’ll be happy to know the answer was yes!
Full standings for the 6 round Swiss can be viewed here. Hope you enjoyed my guest blog post.