Kavalek in Huffington: Kamsky Defends U.S. Chess Title

4/29/2011 – It was déjà vu all over again, as Gata Kamsky carved through the field at the 2011 US Chess Championship in St. Louis, Miss, with relative ease. Kamsky likes to build his games slowly, relying on his positional judgment. Once he gets a small advantage, he is willing to torture his opponent for hours. But GM Lubomir Kavalek shows us a different, more entertaining Kamsky in this key game.

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Kamsky Defends U.S. Chess Title

By GM Lubomir Kavalek

It was deja vu all over again for Gata Kamsky, as he carved through the field of his opponents with relative ease and defended his title at the 2011 U.S. Chess Championship in St. Louis, Miss, this week. The 36-year-old world championship candidate defeated GM Yuri Shulman, 35, in the final match 1.5 - 0.5. From the $170,000 total prize fund, Kamsky brings home $42,000, Shulman gets $30,000.

In the battle for third place between two 19-year old players, GM-elect Samuel Shankland beat GM Robert Hess 2-1. The top four players qualified from two 8-player preliminary groups. The field included 14 grandmasters and two International Masters.

The 2011 Women's Championship went to IM Anna Zatonskih who beat Tatev Abrahamyan in the final. Both championships were staged by the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis.


Photo of Gata Kamsky by Jon Strand

Kamsky is the only living American who played a world championship match, losing to Anatoly Karpov 7.5-10.5 in Elista, Russia, in 1996. Shortly after the match Kamsky gave up chess for almost eight years, but made an unbelievable comeback, eventually winning the demanding FIDE World Cup in 2007. He is scheduled to play the Candidates match against Veselin Topalov next week in Kazan, Russia. The winner of the eight-player Candidates matches will face the world champion Vishy Anand of India in 2012.

Kamsky used the U.S. championship as a warm-up, but he felt morally obliged to participate anyway because "a lot of people worked hard to make it happen." He also stressed that it is important to give chances to the young players to play stronger grandmasters and gain experience.

We could already see some benefits. Hess posted an impressive 5.5-1.5 score, the best overall result in the preliminary groups. Shankland, who was on a verge of quitting chess last year, had a tournament of his life, eliminating the experienced Alexander Onischuk, 35, from the final four and finishing third. Roy Robson, 16, was just a half point shy of making it to the top four and it was a memorable experience for IM Daniel Naroditsky, at 15 the youngest participant. It was great to see the veterans Yasser Seirawan,50, Gregory Kaidanov, 51, Alexander Ivanov, 54, and Larry Christiansen, 54, still playing hard.

It was a championship for all ages, from teenagers to fifty-somethings, a wonderful mixture of chess styles and personalities – another triumph for the St. Louis organizers.

St. Louis played an important part in the first official world chess championship in 1886. William Steinitz turned the match around in the Gateway City after a disastrous start in New York. He clinched the title in New Orleans, defeating Johannes Zukertort 12.5 - 7.5, and became the first world champion.

A gambling masterpiece

A great defender, Kamsky likes to build his games slowly, relying on his great positional judgment. Once he gets a small advantage, he is willing to torture his opponent for hours. He has excellent endgame technique. It was surprising to see him play sharply and with flair against Varuzhan Akobian in the French defense, sacrificing pawns and pieces. It seems that both players enjoyed the gambling part of the game. Pawn sacrifices are compared to rolling dice, but grabbing material is also one form of gambling and sometimes you don't know what is more risky. Have a look:

Note that in the replay windows below you can click on the notation to follow the game.

Original column hereCopyright Huffington Post


The Huffington Post is an American news website and aggregated blog founded by Arianna Huffington and others, featuring various news sources and columnists. The site was launched on May 9, 2005, as a commentary outlet and liberal/progressive alternative to conservative news websites. It offers coverage of politics, media, business, entertainment, living, style, the green movement, world news, and comedy. It is a top destination for news, blogs, and original content. The Huffington Post has an active community, with over one million comments made on the site each month. According to Nielsen NetRatings, the site has around 13 million unique visitors per month (number for March 2010); according to Google Analytics the number is 22 million uniques per month.


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