US Championship – four players in contention

5/21/2010 – With one round to play before the field splits for the three-round quad finale, four of the top five seeds have the best chance of qualifying. Round six landed Gata Kamsky, Alex Onischuk, Hikaru Nakamura and Yury Shulman – 80 percent of the US Olympiad Team – atop the tables. All are undefeated with three wins and three draws each. Report by Mike Klein with beautiful portraits by Betsy Dynako.

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The 2010 US Chess Championship is taking place from May 13 (round one at 2:00 p.m. local time) to May 25 (possible tie breakers) at the Chess Club & Scholastic Center of Saint Louis, which is hosting the event for the second year in a row. The prize fund has risen to $170,000 – more than a 25 percent increase from last year. The winner will take home $35,000.

Round six results

GM Onischuk, Alexander 2699 GM Kamsky, Gata 2702
½-½
GM Nakamura, Hikaru 2733 GM Kraai, Jesse 2492
1-0
GM Stripunsky, Alexander 2570 GM Shulman, Yuri 2613
0-1
GM Akobian, Varuzhan 2599 GM Yermolinsky, Alex 2528
½-½
GM Christiansen, Larry 2578 IM Krush, Irina 2455
1-0
GM Shabalov, Alexander 2585 GM Kaidanov, Gregory 2577
1-0
GM Finegold, Benjamin 2539 GM Benjamin, Joel 2565
1-0
GM Robson, Ray 2569 GM Ehlvest, Jaan 2591
½-½
IM Altounian, Levon 2454 GM Hess, Robert L 2590
0-1
GM Lenderman, Alex 2598 GM Kudrin, Sergey 2571
1-0
GM Bhat, Vinay S 2547 IM Shankland, Samuel 2507
1-0
GM Gurevich, Dmitry 2488 GM Khachiyan, Melikset 2539
½-½

The round featured three Grunfeld Defenses. Despite relatively good results for Black in the first five rounds, White won six of the eight decisive games in round six. This is the third round which featured eight winners. Overall, the championship has had a draw rate so far of 39 percent, up slightly from 2009, which was 34 percent.


In the lead with 4.5/6 points: GM Hikaru Nakamura

An uneventful draw between the pre-round leaders and two decisive games on boards two and three have landed GM Gata Kamsky, GM Alex Onischuk, GM Hikaru Nakamura and GM Yury Shulman atop the tables with 4.5/6. The four players, which comprised 80 percent of the last U.S. Olympiad Team, are all undefeated with three wins and three draws each.


In contention: GM Gata Kamsky, 4.5/6 points

Onischuk and Kamsky played for the fourth time in their careers and the result went the way of the previous three. Nakamura, entering the round for the first time not in first place, caught back up with an endgame swindle against GM Jesse Kraai. Nakamura fell behind on the clock for one of the first games in the event and became worried that Kraai’s celerity meant some home cooking. “I didn’t want to walk into anything,” Nakamura said.

Also winning to tie for the lead was Shulman, who beat GM Alex Stripunsky. Like Nakamura, Shulman won a rook-and-pawn endgame due to his more active rook.


Behind the leaders with 4.0/6: GM Larry Christiansen

GM Varuzhan Akobian, the fifth member of the Olympiad team, could not join the leaders. He played the longest game of the round but was unable to win with his extra pawn, despite GM Larry Christiansen’s claim that “Armenians have great endgame technique.” In one of the most studied endgames, GM Alex Yermolinsky was up to the task and held the draw without too much difficulty.


GM Alexander Shabalov, 2585 , 3.5/6 with a 2613 performance


GM Alex Yermolinsky, 2528, with 3.5/6 and a 2640 performance


GM Jesse Kraai, 2492, with 3.5/6 and a 2660 performance


GM Robert L Hess, 2590, 3.0/6 with a 2550 performance


Going for a second GM norm: IM Irina Krush

Another unlikely player doing well also had a slip in round six. IM Irina Krush lost to Christiansen. While her chances of making the quad are gone, she still has a lot to play for. With two out of her last three she will earn a grandmaster norm and she even has good chances with only 1.5 out of three.

Standings after six rounds

# Player
Pts
Rtg
Perf.
W-We
1 GM Nakamura, Hikaru
4.5
2733
2804
+0.54
2 GM Kamsky, Gata
4.5
2702
2813
+0.83
3 GM Onischuk, Alexander
4.5
2699
2818
+0.90
4 GM Shulman, Yuri
4.5
2613
2773
+1.23
5 GM Christiansen, Larry
4.0
2578
2712
+1.07
6 GM Akobian, Varuzhan
3.5
2599
2626
+0.26
7 GM Shabalov, Alexander
3.5
2585
2613
+0.27
8 GM Stripunsky, Alexander
3.5
2570
2625
+0.48
9 GM Finegold, Benjamin
3.5
2539
2620
+0.69
10 GM Yermolinsky, Alex
3.5
2528
2640
+0.97
11 GM Kraai, Jesse
3.5
2492
2660
+1.40
12 GM Hess, Robert L
3.0
2590
2550
-0.32
13 IM Krush, Irina
3.0
2455
2584
+1.05
14 GM Lenderman, Alex
2.5
2598
2485
-0.97
15 GM Ehlvest, Jaan
2.5
2591
2475
-0.99
16 GM Kaidanov, Gregory
2.5
2577
2485
-0.79
17 GM Robson, Ray
2.5
2569
2488
-0.71
18 GM Benjamin, Joel
2.5
2565
2512
-0.47
19 GM Bhat, Vinay S
2.5
2547
2464
-0.73
20 GM Khachiyan, Melikset
2.0
2539
2465
-0.59
21 GM Kudrin, Sergey
1.5
2571
2374
-1.53
22 IM Shankland, Samuel
1.5
2507
2367
-1.07
23 GM Gurevich, Dmitry
1.5
2488
2359
-0.98
24 IM Altounian, Levon
1.5
2454
2379
-0.54

With the four players at 4.5 and Christiansen at 4, a group of players at 3.5 will need to win and some luck. That list includes GM Alex Shabalov, who defeated GM Gregory Kaidanov, GM Ben Finegold, who defeated GM Joel Benjamin, Akobian, Stripunsky and Yermolinsky.

The pivotal round seven match-ups include Shulman-Onischuk on board one, Christiansen-Nakamura on board two, Kamsky-Shabalov on board three, Kraai-Stripunsky on board four, Yermolinksy-Finegold on board five and Hess-Akobian on board six. Only one of these players will control his own destiny, as he will play someone in the 4.5 score group. Not everyone with 4.5 can be paired with each other for round seven since there have been too many head-to-head matchups already.

“I’ve reached a similar situation to last year where I’ve played everyone at the top,” Nakamura said. “I’ve been the wrong colors against the wrong people.” Nakamura seemed resigned to bad pairing luck going forward. “I’m pretty much expecting the worst,” he said.


FM Mike Klein, who is supplying the notes for this event


Our favourite photographer Betsy Dynako who provides the visuals

Report by FM Mike Klein, photos by Betsy Dynako

US Championship starts in Saint Louis today
14.05.2010 – The 2010 US Chess Championship is taking place from May 13 (round one at 2:00 p.m. local time) to May 25 (possible tie breakers) at the Chess Club & Scholastic Center of Saint Louis, which is hosting the event for the second year in a row. The prize fund has risen to $170,000 – more than a 25 percent increase from last year. The winner will take home $35,000. Live coverage on Playchess.

US Championship – seven players with 3.0/4
18.05.2010 – Exciting games and close competition in Saint Louis: after two rounds there were two players in the lead, after three four players, and after four rounds seven players. Favourites Nakamura, Kamsky and Onischuk are at the top. The only female participant, IM Irina Krush, played 12 hours and 206 chess moves in the last two rounds. Round four report with a giant pictorial by Betsy Dynako.

US Championship – Kamsky and Onischuk in the lead
19.05.2010 – After four rounds there were seven players jumbled at the top of the tables. Only two were left after round five had finished: GM Gata Kamsky and GM Alexander Onischuk. The second and third seeds, both won as White and are all alone at 4/5. A pack of four GMs is half a point shy of the leaders. IM Irina Krush, the only female participant, has a 2657 GM performance. Round five report.


Links

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