US Championship – Kamsky and Onischuk in the lead

5/19/2010 – 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.

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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.

Fifth round

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

With a field of seven players jumbled at the top of the tables, only two players managed to continue their winning ways at round five: GM Gata Kamsky and GM Alexander Onischuk, the second and third seeds, both won as White and are all alone at 4/5.

Kamsky had one of the shorter games of the day as he dispatched three-time champion GM Larry Christiansen on the White side of an offbeat Ruy Lopez. Building a huge center with the one-two punch 10.d4 and 11.f4, he preceded with the crunching shot 26.g4, opening the b1-h7 diagonal, after which Kamsky’s pieces flooded the Black kingside. Kamsky argued that instead of “attacking” that this game should be called “positionally-based, with aggressive intentions,” Christiansen’s position collapsed faster than Mt. St. Helens.

Kamsky,G (2702) - Christiansen,L (2578) [C64]
ch-USA Saint Louis USA (5), 18.05.2010
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Bc5 4.0-0 Nd4 5.Ba4 Nxf3+ 6.Qxf3 Ne7 7.Qc3 Bd4 8.Qg3 Ng6 9.c3 Bb6 10.d4 0-0 11.f4 exf4 12.Bxf4 Nxf4 13.Qxf4 d6 14.Nd2 Be6 15.Kh1 c6 16.Nf3 h6 17.Bc2 Qd7 18.e5 dxe5 19.Nxe5 Qd6 20.Qg3 f5 21.Rae1 Bc7 22.Qh3 f4 23.Qd3 Bf5 24.Bb3+ Kh7 25.Qd2 g5

26.g4 Bc8 27.Qd3+ Kg7 28.Bc2 Rh8 29.Ng6 Bxg4 30.Re7+ Kf6 31.Rxc7 Rhg8 32.Ne5 1-0.


Christiansen and Kamsky analyse after their game

Joining Kamsky at the top was Onischuk, who extended his U.S. Championship unbeaten streak to a record 46 games by narrowly winning against GM Varuzhan Akobian. Onischuk explained his success simply. “I know how to prepare for important tournaments,” he said.

No other player could keep pace with a win, but not for a lack of trying. GM Yury Shulman and top-seeded GM Nakamura battled to a chaotic draw on board one. At one point, Nakamura promoted to a second queen and Shulman refused to take it, instead pursuing his own initiative. “You can’t win every game with Black,” Nakamura said. He will now leave board one for the first time in the event.

Kamsky,G (2702) - Christiansen,L (2578) [C64]
ch-USA Saint Louis USA (5), 18.05.2010
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Bc5 4.0-0 Nd4 5.Ba4 Nxf3+ 6.Qxf3 Ne7 7.Qc3 Bd4 8.Qg3 Ng6 9.c3 Bb6 10.d4 0-0 11.f4 exf4 12.Bxf4 Nxf4 13.Qxf4 d6 14.Nd2 Be6 15.Kh1 c6 16.Nf3 h6 17.Bc2 Qd7 18.e5 dxe5 19.Nxe5 Qd6 20.Qg3 f5 21.Rae1 Bc7 22.Qh3 f4 23.Qd3 Bf5 24.Bb3+ Kh7 25.Qd2 g5

26.g4 Bc8 27.Qd3+ Kg7 28.Bc2 Rh8 29.Ng6 Bxg4 30.Re7+ Kf6 31.Rxc7 Rhg8 32.Ne5 1-0.

GM Jesse Kraai (photo above), one of the lower seeds, won his third game in a row to vault into a tie for third. Sensing that GM Jaan Ehlvest would push for a win with White, Kraai bided his time and then released his pieces. “Ehlvest feels obliged to beat me, and that gives me chances that I wouldn’t get if I was 2600,” Kraai explained.


GM Alex Stripunsky – his left eye was badly injured in an accident

Neither GM Alex Stripunsky or GM Alex Yermolinsky managed to get to four points. They agreed to a draw on board four in a complicated position. Stripunsky had won three in a row prior to round five, but both players still control their own fate to qualify for the finals.

Rebounding from two consecutive missed opportunities, IM Irina Krush pounced on the luckless GM Robert Hess, who lost for the second straight day. Krush said she was embarrassed by the win, as she made some imprecise moves in building for her g-file attack. After making a random pawn move in the midst of the attack, she said, “that’s how I confuse my opponents – with moves that don’t make sense. I realized my strategy of playing well wasn’t working.” After seeing two winning positions only earn ½ point in round three and four, she said, “There is a lot of justice in chess.” Her performance rating is back over 2600, and though the topic is taboo in the press room, everyone is aware that she is on pace for her second grandmaster norm.

Krush,I (2455) - Hess,Ro (2590) [E32]
ch-USA Saint Louis USA (5), 18.05.2010
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Qc2 0-0 5.e4 d6 6.a3 Bxc3+ 7.bxc3 e5 8.Bd3 Nc6 9.Ne2 b6 10.0-0 Ba6 11.f4 Nd7 12.f5 f6 13.Rf3 Na5 14.g4 Qe7 15.Rg3 Bxc4 16.g5 Bxd3 17.Qxd3 fxg5 18.Bxg5 Nf6 19.Kh1 Kh8 20.Rag1 Rae8 21.d5 Nb7 22.Qf3 Qf7 23.Be3 Rg8 24.Rg5 Nc5 25.Bxc5 bxc5 26.Ng3 c6 27.dxc6 d5 28.exd5 e4 29.Qg2 h6 30.Rg6 Qxd5 31.Ne2 Re7 32.c4 Qe5 33.Nf4

33...Qxf5?? 34.Nd5 Qe5 35.Nxf6 1-0.

GM Joel Benjamin won his second game of the event with a series of sacrifices on GM Aleksandr Lenderman’s king. He eventually opened up a discovered attack on Lenderman’s queen to earn the full point.

The 2010 U.S. Chess Championship is open to the public and features grandmaster commentary by WGM Jennifer Shahade and GM Maurice Ashley. The championship quad finale will take place May 22-24 and will culminate with the $10,000 U.S. Championship Blitz Open at 8 p.m. on Monday, May 24, an event that will feature U.S. Championship competitors and some of the top players from across the country.

Report by FM Mike Klein, photos by Betsy Dynako

Standings after five rounds

# Player
Pts
Rtg
Perf.
1 GM Kamsky, Gata 4.0 2702 2844
2 GM Onischuk, Alexander 4.0 2699 2849
3 GM Nakamura, Hikaru 3.5 2733 2784
4 GM Shulman, Yuri 3.5 2613 2731
5 GM Stripunsky, Alexander 3.5 2570 2708
6 GM Kraai, Jesse 3.5 2492 2726
7 GM Akobian, Varuzhan 3.0 2599 2649
8 GM Christiansen, Larry 3.0 2578 2685
9 GM Yermolinsky, Alex 3.0 2528 2652
10 IM Krush, Irina 3.0 2455 2657
11 GM Shabalov, Alexander 2.5 2585 2552
12 GM Kaidanov, Gregory 2.5 2577 2534
13 GM Benjamin, Joel 2.5 2565 2575
14 GM Finegold, Benjamin 2.5 2539 2563
15 GM Ehlvest, Jaan 2.0 2591 2453
16 GM Hess, Robert L 2.0 2590 2497
17 GM Robson, Ray 2.0 2569 2464
18 GM Lenderman, Alex 1.5 2598 2387
19 GM Kudrin, Sergey 1.5 2571 2412
20 GM Bhat, Vinay S 1.5 2547 2375
21 GM Khachiyan, Melikset 1.5 2539 2461
22 IM Shankland, Samuel 1.5 2507 2413
23 IM Altounian, Levon 1.5 2454 2419
24 GM Gurevich, Dmitry 1.0 2488 2314

Round six pairings

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

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.


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