Kamsky, Izoria, Ibragimov, and Stripunsky tied for first at the big Foxwoods Open. Kamsky won a playoff blitz game against Izoria to be named the winner of the event. I haven't seen the actual prize list posted at the official site. The USCF site had regular updates, check it out. They should use tags to you could find all the items on a single event instead of hunting around. New Mexico's Jesse Kraai got his third and final GM norm and will get the title after he raises his rating over 2500. He scored wins over Nakamura and Shabalov, two of the favorites. That loss convinced Nakamura that it wasn't his event and he bailed on the last two rounds.
The USCF site says something about Kraai being the "first American-born GM in over a decade." While technically true, it's odd to exclude Nakamura and others who were raised here and got into chess in the US (Seirawan). Someone born in the US to, say, Ukrainian chess-playing parents would have more relevance to the "USA! USA!" arguments. I know "American-born" is a handy adjective, but "American-born chess" is really what the discussion should center around. Anyway, none of that has anything to do with our hearty kudos to Jesse, a FOD (Friend of the Dirt) from way back. Maybe now he'll be able to afford a real hat! An lo, there is a Kraai tag! We should have a contest to guess the event that precipitates its next usage. 2600? US Ch? Seen with Paris Hilton? Marriage? Shoplifting?
The comments have been reheating some of our favorite hash about draws, although it's a different animal in these big opens compared to elite invitationals. The organizers are making money on entry fees and the games are purely a means to an end for the players. Of course I still see no reason for draw offers to exist the way they do at any level or in any event. The chicken-and-egg argument about fighting chess and sponsorship is a paradox. The players have no obligation think about the long run or the greater good, especially when it's not clear what that greater good might look like (or if it's good for everyone). That's why it's an organizer/federation matter. There is no way to be sure that abolishing short draws would help help chess be accepted as a sport and eventually result in more sponsorship. It would be just one of many factors that are equally difficult to quantify. My point has always been that we should be doing as many things as possible to keep pushing the game in the right direction. It's not a solution, it's an ingredient.
Short draws certainly aren't the only curiosity about the results in these big opens. There weren't that many GMs at Foxwoods, a little over a dozen, but it does seem odd you can win a share of first place without beating any of them! That's what Izoria did. Kamsky and Stripunsky beat one GM each. Ibragimov downed two. All played at least two non-game draws with other leading players. As I said above, these pay-to-play open events are all about the benjamins, and I don't mean Ask Joel. Doing whatever you can do within the rules to get that rent check isn't for me to criticize. Nobody is buying tickets or selling corporate sponsorship. It's an element of the same pernicious culture, but that's so far gone it can only be fixed from the top.