In the shoes of the Fischerman

1/14/2003 – 45 years ago to the day a young lad from Brooklyn made his debut at the US Championship. The fourteen-year-old rank outsider was the shock winner that year and became (and still is) the youngest title holder. To this day Bobby Fischer continues to cast a giant shadow over the US Championships, as John Henderson tells it in his round four report from the US Championship in Seattle.

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In the shoes of the Fischerman

Round four report on the 2003 AF4C US Chess Championships in Seattle

By John B Henderson

Despite having last played in the US Championships in 1966, to this day Bobby Fischer continues to cast a giant shadow over the US Championships by holding just about all the major records for the event.

The erratic genius first came to world prominence in 1957 when he made his debut in the national championships in New York. The precarious fourteen-year-old rank-outsider proved to be the shock winner that year to become (and still is) the youngest title holder. "I just got good", was Fischer's explanation of his unexpected victory and rise to prominence. From there he never looked back.

In 1964, Fischer exceeded Sammy Reshevsky's record of five titles (though Sammy did go on to claim another two after Fischer 'retired' himself from the Championships) in impressive style as he notched up the most extraordinary record ever achieved in a modern, national competition: He won all eleven games, most of which were against top grandmaster-level opponents.

By 1966 when he played in his eighth and final US Championships, Fischer set yet another record: Winning the title on every appearance – played eight, won eight! The only one of his records so far that has been beaten is that of youngest-ever competitor – an honor that now belongs to last year's AF4C wild card Hana Itkis, who was 13 when she played.

By the end of the fourth round of the current championship, Fischer can rest in the knowledge that this year the rest of his records will remain intact – and in particular that of winning with a perfect score as sole leader Gregory Kaidanov (left) ceded the draw to 2002 Samford Fellowship recipient Varuzhan Akobian. At one stage it looked as if Kaidanov, who is in the hunt for his first US title, was coming under a lot of pressure in the good knight vs. bad bishop ending. However Kaidanov held on to stay unbeaten and in the joint lead with 3.5/4.


Gregory Kaidanov


Alexander Shabalov

Joining him in equal first is two-time joint winner (1993 and 2000) Alexander "Shabba" Shabalov who expertly converted his endgame advantage against Yuri Lapshun through for the full point. In a nice little note to this game, Lapshun, who was the 'guilty' party in his 164-move game the previous round to Akobian, picked up his tournament bulletin before the start of the game, looked at the amount of space (nearly a whole page!) his game had taken up and just shook his head in disbelief – and no wonder when at least 80 of them were superfluous!


Larry Christiansen

Joining the chasing pack just a half point behind the leaders is defending champion Larry Christiansen, who beat Santa Fe's finest Jesse Kraai. Also getting in on the action is the 2001 US Junior Champion Hikaru Nakamura, 15, after Maurice Ashley's sacrificial assault spectacularly back-fired after he failed to spot the obvious defence. Nakamura, who holds the national record for being (at 10) the youngest American ever to earn the master title, puts himself up with the leaders and the chance to become the youngest winner of the title since Fischer. And, with two GM norms already under his belt, Nakamura could be in-line for a third and final norm to become the youngest American GM since Fischer.


2001 US Junior Champion Hikaru Nakamura, 15, vs Maurice Ashley

Results

1 GM Gregory Kaidanov draw IM Varuzhan Akobian; 2 GM Boris Gulko draw IM Eugene Perelshteyn; 3 IM Yury Lapshun 0-1 GM Alexander Shabalov; 4 IM Boris Kreiman draw GM Yasser Seirawan; 5 GM Joel Benjamin draw GM Gennadi Zaitshik; 6 GM Sergey Kudrin draw WGM Kamile Baginskaite; 7 WIM Jennifer Shahade 0-1 GM Alex Fishbein; 8 GM Nick De Firmian draw GM Walter Browne; 9 FM Igor Foygel draw GM Alexander Stripunsky; 10 GM Larry Christiansen 1-0 IM Jesse Kraai; 11 GM Dmitry Gurevich draw GM Alex Yermolinsky; 12 IM Ben Finegold draw FM Stephen Muhammad; 13 GM Alexander Ivanov draw IM William Paschall; 14 GM Maurice Ashley 0-1 IM Hikaru Nakamura; 15 GM Alexander Goldin draw IM Justin Sarkar; 16 WGM Irina Krush draw GM Gregory Serper; 17 GM John Fedorowicz draw IM Larry Kaufman; 18 IM John Watson draw FM Tegshsuren Enkhbat; 19 GM Anatoly Lein 1-0 David Pruess; 20 IM Michael Mulyar 1-0 WIM Tsagaan Battsetseg; 21 IM Greg Shahade 1-0 WIM Olga Sagalchik; 22 FM Aaron Pixton draw WGM Elena Donaldson; 23 WIM Anna Hahn 0-1 IM Stanislav Kriventsov; 24 IM Dean Ippolito 1-0 Julia Shiber; 25 WIM Esther Epstein 0-1 IM Ron Burnett; 26 IM John Donaldson 1-0 WFM Laura Ross; 27 WIM Elina Groberman draw FM Allan Bennett; 28 FM Gregory Markzon draw WIM Cindy Tsai; 29 Marc Esserman draw Anna Levina.

Standings

1-2 Kaidanov, Shabalov 3.5/4; 3-7 Gulko, Christiansen, Akobian, Nakamura, Perlelshteyn 3; 8-25 Seirawan, Benjamin, De Firmian, Stripunsky, Yermolinsky, Finegold, Ivanov, Zaitshik, Kreiman, Fishbein, Lapshun, Browne, Gurevich, Foygel, Paschall, Lein, Muhammad, Sarkar 2.5; 26-41 Goldin, Serper, Kudrin, Fedorowicz, Ashley, Mulyar, Kraai, G Shahade, Enhbat, Kriventsov, Ippolito, Burnett, Kaufman, Baginskaite, Krush, Watson 2; 42-46 Pixton, J Donaldson, E Donaldson, J Shahade, Pruess 1.5; 47-53 Bennett, Battsetseg, Hahn, Epstein, Sagalchik, Groberman, Shiber 1; 54-58 Markzon, Esserman, Tsai, Ross, Levina 0.5.

You can follow all 29 games live over the Internet at www.af4c.org.


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