WSOP Not the Only Game in Town as Las Vegas International Chess Festival Concludes

3 min read

The World Series of Poker (WSOP) might be the talk of the town in Las Vegas, but that’s not the only mind sport competition in Sin City this summer.

Las Vegas International Chess Festival.
Las Vegas International Chess Festival strengthens links between the two communities. (Image:

The Las Vegas International Chess Festival took place between June 14 and June 18 at the Westgate and saw some of the top players in the US compete in a variety of tournaments.

Much like the WSOP brings out the best players from around the world, the chess festival saw more than 2,000 competitors from a dozen countries fight for supremacy on the boards.

Top Players Prove their Prowess

The four day festival kicked off with the US Women’s Open which saw 36 females compete for the $1,000 top prize. Finishing top of the leaderboard after five rounds of action was Georgian-American pro and International Master, Nazí Paikidze.

In the National Open Championship, Grandmaster Tigran Levonovich Petrosian edged out Illia Nyzhnyk to clinch the title and $8,000. Although the prize money on offer is far from that up for grabs at the WSOP, the level of skill and strategy on display at the Las Vegas International Chess Festival was extremely high.

Over the last few years we’ve seen a number of chess pro use their talents to achieve success in the poker world. Jeff Sarwer was an international chess prodigy before becoming a high profile around 2010.

More recently, Jennifer Shahade turned to poker and found success on the tournament circuit.

Poker and Chess Collide

As well as banking more than $300,000 in live earnings, Shahade has worked alongside PokerStars at various events in Europe to help create a greater synergy between poker and chess.

At the UK and Ireland Poker Tour (UKIPT) event in the Isle of Man back in 2014, Shahade played three heads-up poker matches and three chess matches simultaneously.

On that occasion, Shahade managed to win five of the six matches, but beyond the result it was a chance strengthen the links between both communities. In fact, as a testament to the links between poker and chess, the recent chess event in Vegas concluded with a special poker tournament.

Taking place at Harrah’s, the private tournament not only offered bounties on the festival’s organizers but cash and a bracelet for the winner.

Although the bracelet might not be quite as valuable as the ones available over at the Rio, it could be just the incentive a few chess players need to cross over and compete in the world’s largest poker event.

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