Boom! Goes The Riviera...
June 2016: The Riviera Demolition
Recently we stumbled upon some riveting news from Las Vegas. The famed Riviera hotel and casino has been demolished by implosion. It has been one of those time-honored upsettingly-joyful Las Vegas demolition celebrations, with fireworks and music and all. But for us it felt like yet another bridge to the past being blown up. There are all those previous-life towns and cities and countries left behind... And now -- Boom! Goes The Riviera...
June 2008: The Riviera Flashback
It was our first air travel to a national chess tournament ever in the USA. Ethan (then 10) played for the first time in his life for big money, in the 2008 National Open's U1400 Section, whereas in the Open Section very big guys were playing: Gata Kamsky, Hikaru Nakamura, etc.
Naomi had just turned 5 and didn't yet even know how to play chess!
This is the point in time where this Chess Travel blog's Temporal Field starts. It would take 3 more years until the first Chess Travel blog post appears, about the 2011 World Youth Chess Championships in Brazil. But this 2008 trip to Las Vegas was where the seed has been planted.
June 4: Flight to Las Vegas
Our first travel as a family out of the US home:
June 5: Las Vegas Strip and Casinos
From The Riviera, we started walking south on the west side of the Strip. It was a hot day, so pretty soon we decided to take the Deuce bus on the way. We saddled the second-floor front-window seats, and had one of the most vivid neck-breaking mouth-gaping unashamedly-touristy experiences of our lives.
After riding the Deuce all the way south we disembarked at the Mandalay Bay and walked back north inside the interconnected hotels and casinos. The Luxor, The Excalibur, The New York New York ravished our sense of splendor. And then The MGM Grand delivered a coup de grace in the form of the Rainforest Cafe and the glass-sided Lion Habitat.
The M&M's World and the nearby video games hall replenished the kids energy, we walked past the Hard Rock Cafe, caught the Deuce near Planet Hollywood and rode to The Riviera. What a day!
June 6: National Open, Riviera, Bellagio singing fountains
On our second day in Las Vegas, the tournament started. In the morning, in Round 1, Ethan (rating 1327) defeated Aaron Chow (1345). In the afternoon, all four of us found a refuge from the heat in The Riviera's swimming pool. The kids were happy.
In the evening, we left Ethan alone in The Riviera to play Round 2 against Jonathan Booher (1283), while the remaining three of us took off to see the famous Bellagio singing fountains, see the videos here:
June 7: Bellagio Conservatory, Caesars Palace Forum, Venetian Canals
On the third day, Ethan stayed at The Riviera to play chess for the whole day. In Round 3 he lost to Kyle Burris (1395) and in Round 4 he defeated Michael Beckham (1285). Between games Ethan would walk back to the room himself and then come down to the playing hall again, in time -- no small feat for a 10 year old boy in a typical sprawling Las Vegas hotel and casino complex!
We went to see the Bellagio Conservatory, the Caesars Palace Forum Shops with its Atlantis show and tacky Roman piazzas, and The Venetian with its delightfully fake canals and gondolas. Why visit Europe when you have Vegas?
June 8: Las Vegas Downtown, Flamingo, Treasure Island, Bellagio
On the fourth day, Ethan lost to Evan Zheng (1121) and defeated Newton Steers (1255). His final place was in the middle of his U1400 section, as expected. In the following 6 years, Ethan reached USCF rating 2184, so maybe this tournament did good for him.
In the morning, the touristic appetite took us to Fremont Street (Las Vegas Downtown). Under the famous full-street canopy, we ran into the coolest classic cars show. And then we experienced the debilitating gluttony of a Las Vegas all-you-can-eat buffet.
In the afternoon, back at the Strip, we've seen The Flamingo's flamingos - who were lavishly pink. Then we grabbed Ethan who just finished the tournament and rode the Deuce to see The Treasure Island's Pirate Show, with scantily clad performers and some pyrotechnics. Slightly under-impressed, we walked to The Bellagio singing fountains again, to show Ethan what he's been missing.
June 9: Las Vegas Circus Circus, magician show
On our last full day in Vegas, the kids were up for a treat: the Adventuredome theme amusement park at the Circus Circus Hotel and Casino. Under a giant roof, the air-conditioned park has dozens of rides and attractions. The kids went decidedly berserk, and we all had fun.
In the evening, the World's Greatest Magic Show at the Greek Isles Hotel & Casino (just across the parking lot south from The Riviera) had been unexpectedly delightful. In 2013 that place was renamed the Clarion, and then in 2015 demolished as well! It's like running on a bridge over an abyss, with the bridge falling apart behind you...
June 10: Flight from Las Vegas
We flew back home with this unforgettable first impression of Las Vegas. Even after a few more trips to Bally's Las Vegas for chess tournaments, that first trip to The Riviera still sticks out most. And now they blew it up! Leaving only memories, sweet memories... Sic transit gloria mundi.