Hikaru Nakamura is the US Champion 2009

by ChessBase
5/18/2009 – Not Gata? – we hear you cry. No, top seed Gata Kamsky was a point behind and took home $7,500, while Nakamura, who defeated Josh Friedel in the final round (actually he crushed him in 22 moves), got the title and the first prize of $40,000. Second was 17-year-old Robert Hess, who only managed to draw in round nine. From a wonderful championship we sign off with a final illustrated report.

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2009 US Chess Championship

The 2009 US Chess Championship was held, this year for the first time, in St. Louis, Missouri, at the brand new St. Louis Chess Club and Scholastic Center, which is located at 4657 Maryland Avenue, just east of the intersection of Euclid and Maryland. The Championship dates back to 1845 and this year offered a purse of more than $130,000 in prize money. It was a nine-round Swiss, with one round per day and a rest day between rounds seven and eight. Time controls were the classical 40 moves in two hours, with one hour allowed for all remaining moves and a five second increment for all move.

Round eight – Hikaru Nakamura 2009 US Champion

Hikaru Nakamura, 21, won the the 2009 US Chess Championship, after winning in the ninth and final round of the event. Second-seeded Nakamura, who also won the title in 2004, when he was just 16, took the venerable 164-year-old title and the first prize of $40,000 ($35,000, plus a $5,000 outright winner's bonus) after beating Josh Friedel of New Hampshire. Nakamura finished with seven points over nine games, and never lost a game.

The Championship winning match Hikaru Nakamura vs Josh Friedel

Robert Hess vs Veruzhan Akobian – the draw in this game gave Nakamura the title

He was assured the title after 17-year-old Robert Hess of New York, managed only a draw in his last round game with Varuzhan Akobian. Hess and Nakamura entered the final round tied with six points. Hess tied for second with Alexander Onischuk, who defeated the youngest player in the tournament, Ray Robson, 14, of Largo, Fla.

Fourth: Gata Kamsky, top seed at the US Championship

Akobian and Gata Kamsky, who was the number one seed coming into the tournament, tied for fourth. Here are the official final results of the 2009 US Championship.

No. Player (title, seeding) St. Rtng Pts  TB1 TB2 Prize
1. GM Nakamura, Hikaru (2) NY 2757 7.0  39.5 48.0 $40,000.00
2. IM Hess, Robert (17) NY 2545 6.5  40.5 47.5 $12,500.00
3. GM Onischuk, Alexander (3) VA 2736 6.5  38.5 45.5 $12,500.00
4. GM Kamsky, Gata (1) NY 2798 6.0  41.0 50.0 $ 7,500.00
5. GM Akobian, Varuzhan (7) CA 2664 6.0  38.0 46.0 $ 7,500.00
6. GM Shulman, Yury (4) IL 2697 5.0  41.0 48.0 $ 4,650.00
7. GM Friedel, Joshua (15) NH 2568 5.0  40.0 48.0 $ 4,650.00
8. GM Ibragimov, Ildar (13) CT 2628 5.0  32.0 39.0 $ 4,650.00
9. GM Christiansen, Larry (5) MA 2681 5.0  32.0 38.5 $ 4,650.00
10. GM Ehlvest, Jaan (10) NY 2649 4.5  25.0 46.0 $ 2,833.33
11. IM Robson, Ray (18) FL 2542 4.5  22.5 43.0 $ 2,833.33
12. GM Kaidanov, Gregory (8) KY 2662 4.5  21.5 34.5 $ 2,833.33
13. GM Benjamin, Joel (9) NJ 2650 4.5  21.0 39.0 $ 2,833.33
14. GM Shabalov, Alexander (14) PA 2620 4.5  20.5 37.0 $ 2,833.33
15. GM Gulko, Boris (12) NJ 2631 4.5  19.5 33.0 $ 2,833.33
16. IM Brooks, Michael (22) MO 2419 4.0  31.0 43.0 $ 2,375.00
17. Hughes, Tyler (24) CO 2293 4.0  25.5 37.0 $ 2,375.00
18. IM Sevillano, Enrico (16) CA 2549 4.0  25.5 35.5 $ 2,375.00
19. GM Becerra, Julio (6) FL 2672 4.0  24.5 37.0 $ 2,375.00
20. IM Krush, Irina (20) NY 2496 3.5  25.5 35.0 $ 2,000.00
21. IM Shankland, Samuel (21) CA 2464 3.0  24.5 36.0 $ 2,000.00
22. GM Khachiyan, Melikset (11) CA 2632 3.0  24.5 36.0 $ 2,000.00
23. FM Eckert, Doug D (25) IL 2278 2.0  12.5 22.0 $ 2,000.00
24. Lawton, Charles (23) MO 2350 1.0  25.0 34.0 $ 2,000.00
25. IM Zatonskih, Anna (19) NY 2503 0.5  0.0 11.0 $ 2,000.00

Irina Krush and Charles Lawton – the game was drawn in 31 moves

Yury Shulman vs Gregory Kaidanov – drawn in 37 moves

Nakamura, who as a junior broke every age-group record set by Bobby Fischer, except that of youngest U.S. champion (Fischer did this at age 14), played confident and assured over the ten days of tense competition.

"I was very happy with my play throughout and relieved to have won the title again," said Nakamura moments after being confirmed champion. "This is a title that means so much to me and the U.S. chess community -- and I have to thank the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis for putting on such a memorable championship. Winning the second title feels better to me than the first."

Nakamura was officially crowned the 2009 U.S. chess champion Sunday evening by championship sponsor Rex Sinquefield – founder of the Chess Club and Scholastic Center – during a closing ceremony at the Zodiac Room of the Chase Park Hotel in St. Louis' trendy Central West End.

The team in Saint Louis that brought us the excellent coverage

All pictures by Betsy Dynako of Inspiring Art (we'll tell you all about her after the final round)

The extraordinary photographic coverage of the 2009 US Championship was the work of Betsy Dynako, who is actively involved in professional and scholastic chess as a photographer, journalist, tournament director, and teacher.

Photography has been a passion of Betsy's from a very early age, and she began to hone her skills as the photo editor for Millikin University's student newspaper, during her undergraduate studies there. Her specialty work at Millikin included photographing sports and drama events.

Betsy is regarded as one of the premiere chess photographers in the United States, always providing top-notch coverage of events from Supernationals to the US Chess Championship. In addition to the print and web versions of Chess Life, and Internet Chess Club and World Chess Live, her photography has appeared in printed materials of the Association of Unity Churches and in greeting cards. In 2004, Betsy's work appeared in a group showing titled, "Endo Expressions," at the ARC Gallery in Chicago. Betsy uses a Nikon D3. When she can she will grab a Canon from a friend for a few shots. Her favorite lens is her 17-200mm.

"I consider photography my art," says Betsy. "I am so a classically trained singer but photography has become a profession. As a singer I know I did a good job when I move someone to tears, as a photographer I wouldn't mind doing the same one day. In general I am blessed to do what I love."


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