Two Southern Californians led a powerful field at the National Open in Las Vegas last weekend. Grandmaster Varuzhan Akobian and IM Enrico Sevillano shared first place in the 89-player Open section with scores of 5-1. The tournament included 17 GMs.
Entering the final round, 12 players were tied at 4-1. Three of the games between them ended in hard-fought draws, and a fourth was drawn without a struggle. However, Akobian defeated GM Laurent Fressinet of France, a 2008 co-winner, and Sevillano upset GM Evgeny Bareev of Russia, once ranked fourth in the world.
Akobian overcame particularly difficult pairings. Earlier, he had drawn one of the favorites, GM Loek Van Wely of the Netherlands, and had beaten GM Jesse Kraai of San Francisco.
Another Southern California champion, IM Andranik Matikozyan, tied for third place with 12 others at 4 1/2 -1 1/2 .