US Championship – Shulman and Kamsky to play for title in rapid tiebreak

5/24/2010 – A shock defeat on the second day of the Quad final – four top players battling it out in a round robin – virtually extinguished the chances of last year's champion Hikaru Nakamura from taking the title for a second time in succession. In the open event IM Irina Krush narrowly missed scoring her second GM norm. The final round and decision are on Sunday. Illustrated 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.

Quad final day one

In the first game, between the top two seeds GM Hikaru Nakamura and GM Gata Kamsky, White had a promising initiative, but then Kamsky turned the tables on the attacking player by offering several pawns to gather a piece storm near Nakamura’s king. The game ended after 33 moves in a draw. In round six of this tournament Nakamura and Kamsky had also played to a draw (Kamsky had white). All of the lifetime encounters of these two players have ended in draws.


Nakamura, Kamsky in the game review with Jenny Shahade and Maurice Ashley

The other two players in the Quad final were GM Alex Onischuk and GM Yury Shulman, the third and fourth seeds. Unlike round seven, when both players were playing it safe to qualify for the quad, Onischuk had white and more of a reason to create complications. Still, after a benign opening, no initiative was created for either side. The game ended in a 32-move draw.


Yury Shulman, who held Alex Onischuk to a 32-move draw with black

Players who did not qualify for the quad had this round and one more to try to take the fifth-place prize. Board three featured the two favorites in the Challenger Swiss – GM Alex Stripunsky and GM Larry Christiansen were the only players with 4.5/7 going in to the round.


Larry Christiansen in his round eight game against Alex Stripunsky (White won in 52)

Stripunsky took the lead in the Challenger Swiss with a win over Christiansen.“What was I, like plus two?” Christiansen said, referring to how a computer program would evaluate his position. “Then I had to go and get fancy with Rg4 – forcing him to win! (It is) sickening.” Stripunsky, who has seven decisive games in eight rounds (five wins, two losses), will only need a draw in round nine to earn at least a tie for the win in the Swiss.

The consolation tournament also dealt a blow to IM Irina Krush’s chances for a grandmaster norm when she lost against GM Alex Shabalov. Krush will need to win her last round against GM Jesse Kraai to qualify for a second norm.

Quad final day two

In the most dramatic and meaningful round so far, GM Yury Shulman upset defending champion GM Hikaru Nakamura on board one. On board two, GM Gata Kamsky dug out of a hole, and after his draw offer was refused, he delivered GM Alex Onischuk his first loss in nearly five years of U.S. Championship appearances. Onischuk refused a draw offer to pursue a slight advantage but was eventually overrun by a relentless Kamsky.

Nakamura played quickly in the opening and sacrificed a center pawn to gain pressure on the kingside. He won a few pawns and pinned all his hopes on advancing his passed h-pawn. But Shulman’s pieces arrived too quickly, and the pawn never seriously threatened Shulman’s position.

Nakamura,Hi (2733) - Shulman,Y (2613) [C18]
ch-USA Quads Saint Louis USA (2), 23.05.2010
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e5 c5 5.a3 Bxc3+ 6.bxc3 Qa5 7.Bd2 Qa4 8.Nf3 Nc6 9.h4 cxd4 10.cxd4 Nge7 11.h5 Nxd4 12.Bd3 h6 13.Kf1 Nxf3 14.Qxf3 b6 15.Qg3 Ba6 16.Qxg7 Bxd3+ 17.cxd3 Rg8 18.Qxh6 Qd4 19.Re1 Qxd3+ 20.Kg1 Rc8 21.Bg5 Qf5 22.f4 Rc2

23.Rh2?? After 23.Qf6 the game is probably drawn. 23...Qd3 24.Qf6 Rxg5 25.Qxg5 Qd4+ 26.Kh1 Qe3

0-1. After this shock turn of events Nakamura's chances of becoming US Champion have been severely disrupted. Both he and Onischuk are mathematically eliminated from winning the tournament, and the U.S. will again not have a repeat champion. The last person to successfully defend his title was GM Lev Alburt in the 1980s.


Unable to create serious complications: finalist Alexander Onischuk

The Nakamura-Shulman game ended well before board two, meaning Kamsky and Onishcuk knew the result while their game was still in progress. This may help explain why Onischuk turned down Kamsky’s draw offer after 41.Ne4, the first move after time control. If Onischuk had accepted, he would no longer control his own fate since he already played Shulman in the first game of the quad finals.

Shulman (photo above) said going into the round that the winner of the three-round quad would need some luck to win the tournament. His knowledge of the opening came from helping prepare Kamsky for his match against GM Veselin Topalov last year. Now, he takes white against Kamsky for the title. If tomorrow’s game does not produce a winner, the two will play again in a rapid tiebreaker on Tuesday morning. Besides the $35,000 first place, the winner also gets an automatic spot on the 2010 Olympiad Team. UPDATE: According to Jennifer Shahade on Chess.FM, since Kamsky and Shulman are going to a rapid tiebreak, the prize money structure will be slightly altered, such that the rapid winner will receive $30,000 with his opponent receiving $25,000.


Fifth place and $10,000 for Alexander Shabalov

In the final round of the Challenger’s Swiss, GM Alex Shabalov beat GM Alex Stripunsky in only 25 moves. He takes home the top prize of the Swiss, which is actually fifth-place money: $10,000. IM Irina Krush tried but failed to earn a grandmaster norm. Needing a win today, she could only muster a draw against GM Jesse Kraai. She finishes with 4.5, an even score, and a performance rating above 2580.

Report by FM Mike Klein, photos by Betsy Dynako

Standings after nine rounds

# Player
Pts
Rtg
Perf.
W-We
1 GM Kamsky, Gata
6.5
2702
2803
+1.21
2 GM Shulman, Yuri
6.5
2613
2789
+2.13
3 GM Nakamura, Hikaru
5.5
2733
2698
-0.37
4 GM Onischuk, Alexander
5.5
2699
2711
+0.16
5 GM Shabalov, Alexander
6.0
2585
2688
+1.23
6 GM Stripunsky, Alexander
5.5
2570
2642
+0.90
7 GM Akobian, Varuzhan
5.0
2599
2617
+0.20
8 GM Hess, Robert L
5.0
2590
2595
+0.03
9 GM Christiansen, Larry
5.0
2578
2639
+0.72
10 GM Finegold, Benjamin
5.0
2539
2607
+0.79
11 GM Yermolinsky, Alex
5.0
2528
2612
+1.03
12 GM Kaidanov, Gregory
4.5
2577
2551
-0.32
13 GM Benjamin, Joel
4.5
2565
2553
-0.15
14 GM Kraai, Jesse
4.5
2492
2575
+1.01
15 IM Krush, Irina
4.5
2455
2575
+1.47
16 GM Ehlvest, Jaan
4.0
2591
2503
-1.06
17 GM Robson, Ray
4.0
2569
2511
-0.70
18 GM Lenderman, Alex
3.5
2598
2447
-1.88
19 GM Bhat, Vinay S
3.5
2547
2463
-1.06
20 GM Khachiyan, Melikset
3.5
2539
2496
-0.55
21 IM Altounian, Levon
3.5
2454
2474
+0.23
22 GM Kudrin, Sergey
2.5
2571
2385
-2.24
23 IM Shankland, Samuel
2.5
2507
2381
-1.51
24 GM Gurevich, Dmitry
2.5
2488
2382
-1.27


Links

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