Happy Birthday Walter! – Walter? Walter?

1/11/2003 – They had organised a present of a bottle of vintage wine and placed it by his board. They were prepared to give this living-legend a Happy Birthday a rousing rendition of 'Happy Birthday' for his 54th before the start of play. But typically Walter Browne arrived five minutes late and missed everything! John Henderson reports from the US Chess Championship in Seattle in an article entitled Good ol' Walter Browne!

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Good ol' Walter Browne!

At the end of day two of the AF4C US Chess Championships taking place in Seattle, there’s a five-way tie at the top as the elite 58 chess player’s from around the US do battle once again for the crown made famous by Bobby Fischer, which this year has a record prize fund of $255,000 – the biggest annual prize for a chess tournament anywhere in the world.

When Fischer won his record-breaking eighth title in 1966, he only took home $2,500. This year there’s $25,000 slotted for the winner of the nine round event taking place at the Northwest Rooms at the Seattle Centre, which runs daily until 18 January.

Early leaders on full points with two wins from two games are top seed Gregory Kaidanov (Kentucky), Yury Lapshun (Brooklyn), Gennadi Zaitshik (Philadelphia), Varuzhan Akobian (California) and Jesse Kraai (New Mexico) – four of whom will have to play each other in round three. On their tail however is an ominous chasing pack of 16 just a half point behind the pace setters, including defending champion Larry Christiansen (Massachusetts) and six-time former champion Walter Browne (California), who celebrated his 54th birthday during round two.


Late for his birthday: legendary GM Walter Browne

We organised a present of a bottle of vintage wine for Walter and it was placed by his board. We even went as far as wishing this living-legend a Happy Birthday before the start of play. We were even prepared to give him a rousing rendition of 'Happy Birthday'. Typically Walter arrived five minutes late and missed everything!

Big shock of the day was the defeat of second seed Alexander Goldin, formerly of Israel. Though he's been in the United States for quite a few years now, this is his first Championship and he is one of the pre-tournament favourites. He has won numerous tournaments in the USA, and managed to maintain a very high FIDE rating (he is 2621 in January 2003) while playing in these opens. His defeat to IM Yury Lapshun therefore comes as a big surprise - and also makes Goldin's task of becoming one of the few to win on their debut even harder.

Also falling behind at an early stage is three-time winner and local hero Yasser Seirawan. A second successive draw to tournament 'old hand' Anatoly Lein (a sprightful 71) likewise leaves Seirawan one point of the lead and leaves him now playing catch-up with the leaders. Someone who is however pleased with her two draws is last year's woman's champion Jennifer Shahade, who looks to be continuing where she left off last year. After an opening round draw with Hikaru Nakamura, the defending champion followed this up with a solid draw against GM Gregory Serper.

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

Leader board: 1-5 Kaidanov, Akobian, Zaitshik, Lapshun, Kraai 2/2; 6-19 Gulko, Shabalov, De Firmian, Stripunsky, Christiansen, Yermolinsky, Kudrin, Nakamura, Fedorowicz, Browne, Gurevich, Foygel, Ashley, Perelshteyn 1½; 20-42 Goldin, Seirawan, Benjamin, Finegold, Ivanov, Serper, Kreiman, Fishbein, Mulyar, G. Shahade, Enkhbat, Paschall, Pixton, Kriventsov, Ippolito, Burnett, Lein, E. Donaldson, Krush, Muhammad, Sarkar, J. Shahade, Shiber 1; 43-52 J. Donaldson, Kaufman, Baginskaite, Watson, Pruess, Bennett, Ross, Groberman, Markzon, Esserman ½; 53-58 Battsetseg, Hahn, Epstein, Tsai, Sagalchik, Levina 0

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

About America’s Foundation for Chess

Founded in 2000, America's Foundation for Chess (formerly the Seattle Chess Foundation) is committed to bringing chess into every U.S. classroom. By first making chess a larger part of America's cultural fabric — accessible in schools and in popular culture — AF4C hopes to elevate the profile of chess in America. To this end, AF4C is providing chess instruction materials and training to teachers, who have little or no chess background. In addition, by sponsoring high-level competitions such as the U.S. Chess Championships, AF4C is cultivating chess role models and a venue for chess excellence in America. By forging partnerships with schools and corporations, AF4C plans to make chess a part of every classroom experience.


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