Nakamura slumps at US Championship

3/6/2006 – Last year's bright young US champion has made a terrible start to defending his title in the 2006 US Championship in San Diego. Hikaru Nakamura lost to 19-year-old Josh Friedel and, oh dear oh dear, to WGM Camilla Baginskaite. Of course after just three rounds everything is still open. Illustrated report and links.

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The US Chess Championship is being held from March 1st to 12th, 2006, at the NTC Promenade in San Diego, California. It decides the titles of both the US and US Women's chess champion. The 64 players are separated by rating into two 32-player groups of equal strength, Group A and Group B. All of the players in each group, men and women, participate in the same swiss system tournament.


Participants at the 2006 US Championship

After nine rounds the group winners meet in the championship match the next day for the title. The top-scoring woman in each group advances to the women's championship match. These matches are of two games of rapid chess, with blitz tie-breaks.


Veteran GM Boris Gulko, comeback GM Max Dlugy

Time controls are 100 minutes for the first 40 moves, then 50 minutes for 20, then 10 minutes for the rest of the game. In addition there is an increment of 30 seconds per move.


Top women's seed WGM Anna Zatonskih

The prize fund is over $250,000 – the first prize is $25,000 and the women's champion will receive $12,500. There are also over $8,000 in special cash prizes for brilliant games and for displaying fighting chess.


19-year-old Josh Friedel, first round vanquisher of Hikaru Nakamura

Nakamura,H (2644) - Friedel,J (2455) [A11]
ch-USA GpA San Diego USA (1), 02.03.2006
1.Nf3 d5 2.c4 c6 3.e3 e6 4.Qc2 Bd6 5.Nc3 f5 6.h3 Nf6 7.g4 0-0 8.gxf5 exf5 9.b3 Qe7 10.Bb2 Na6 11.Rg1 Bd7 12.cxd5 Nb4 13.Qb1 cxd5 14.a3 Nc6

Nakamura plays an interesting sacrifice – rook and two pieces of a queen and two pawns – that is incidentally immediately suggested by Fritz. 15.Nxd5 Nxd5 16.Bc4 Be6 17.Rxg7+ Qxg7 18.Bxg7 Kxg7 19.Qb2+ Rf6 20.0-0-0 h6 21.d3 Kf7 22.e4 fxe4 23.dxe4 Rxf3 24.exd5 Bf4+ 25.Kb1 Bf5+ 26.Ka2 Ne5 27.d6+ Kg6 28.Be2 Rxh3 29.Qd4 Rf8 30.Bb5 Be6 31.Qe4+ Kh5 32.Be2+ Kh4 33.d7 Bxd7 34.Rxd7 Nxd7

The sacrifice has worked, White is winning. All he needed to do was to play 35.Qe6 (threatening 36.Qg4#) and then 36.Qe7+ to win the black rook on f8. But Nakamura plays the check first: 35.Qe7+? Bg5 36.Qxd7. This picks up the knight, but Black can now consolidate his forces and go on the attack – which Friedel does with great precision. 36...Rf4 37.f3 Rh2 38.Qd3 Kg3 39.b4 Rf2 40.Kb1 Kg2 41.Bd1 Bh4 42.Qg6+ Bg3 43.Bc2 h5 44.Qxh5 Rc4 45.Be4 Rd4 46.f4+ Rxe4 47.Qd5 Rfe2 48.Qxb7 Kg1 0-1.


Terrible start (0.5/3.0): last year's US Champion Hikaru Nakamura


WGM Camilla Baginskaite showing her win against Nakamura


Another young US talent Batchimeg Tuvshintugs, 19 (originally Mongolia)

GROUP A

No.  Title Name St USCF FIDE Pts
1 GM Onischuk, Alexander MD 2686 2650 3.0
2 GM De Firmian, Nick   2600 2547 2.5
3 GM Gurevich, Dmitry IL 2562 2503 2.5
4 IM Finegold, Benjamin MI 2657 2563 2.0
5 GM Goldin, Alexander KY 2642 2598 2.0
6 GM Benjamin, Joel NJ 2624 2576 2.0
7 IM Gonzalez, Renier FL 2548 2470 2.0
8 IM Kraai, Jesse NM 2540 2443 2.0
9 IM Schneider, Dmitry NY 2525 2486 2.0
10 IM Friedel, Joshua NH 2513 2455 2.0
11 IM Bercys, Salvijus NY 2440 2358 2.0
12 WGM Goletiani, Rusudan (w) NY 2393 2378 2.0
13 WGM Baginskaite, Camilla (w) CA 2331 2299 2.0
14 GM Ibragimov, Ildar CT 2707 2635 1.5
15 GM Akobian, Varuzhan CA 2662 2600 1.5
16 GM Stripunsky, Alexander NY 2642 2564 1.5
17 GM Kudrin, Sergey CT 2627 2554 1.5
18 GM Dlugy, Maxim NJ 2604 2531 1.5
19 GM Serper, Gregory WA 2577 2517 1.5
20 IM Stein, Alan CA 2486 2415 1.5
21 IM Florean, Andrei MI 2479 2426 1.5
22 IM Fernandez, Daniel FL 2424 2423 1.5
23 FM Schneider, Igor NY 2420 2376 1.5
24 FM Tate, Emory IN 2441 2391 1.0
25 WIM Epstein, Esther (w) MA 2172 2178 1.0
26 GM Nakamura, Hikaru NY 2774 2644 0.5
27 IM Lenderman, Alex NY 2427 2431 0.5
28   Kleiman, Jake TN 2318 2279 0.5
29 WFM Ross, Laura (w) NY 2238 2141 0.5
30 WFM Vicary, Elizabeth (w) NY 2118 2107 0.5
31   Zenyuk, Iryna (w) NY 2101 2194 0.5
32   Cottrell-Finegold, Kelly (w) MI 1663 1887 0.0

GROUP B

No. Title Name St USCF FIDE Pts
1 GM Shabalov, Alexander PA 2665 2595 2.5
2 GM Ivanov, Alexander MA 2657 2606 2.5
3 GM Novikov, Igor NY 2643 2575 2.5
4 GM Christiansen, Larry MA 2633 2546 2.5
5 GM Shulman, Yury IL 2623 2581 2.5
6 GM Kamsky, Gata NY 2729 2686 2.0
7 GM Gulko, Boris NJ 2678 2585 2.0
8 GM Becerra, Julio FL 2629 2556 2.0
9 GM Fishbein, Alexander NJ 2593 2519 2.0
10 GM Yermolinsky, Alex CA 2590 2554 2.0
11 IM Kriventsov, Stanislav LA 2491 2449 2.0
12 WIM Tuvshintugs, Batchimeg (w) CA 2271 2208 2.0
13 GM Kaidanov, Gregory KY 2722 2603 1.5
14 IM Perelshteyn, Eugene MA 2614 2522 1.5
15 GM Fedorowicz, John NY 2558 2493 1.5
16 GM Wojtkiewicz, Aleks MD 2555 2554 1.5
17 IM Milman, Lev NY 2528 2478 1.5
18 GM Browne, Walter CA 2507 2434 1.5
19 WGM Zatonskih, Anna (w) OH 2469 2433 1.5
20 IM Ippolito, Dean NJ 2464 2414 1.5
21 IM Vigorito, David NV 2422 2359 1.5
22 GM Kreiman, Boris CA 2535 2478 1.0
23 FM Muhammad, Stephen GA 2458 2377 1.0
24 IM Lugo, Blas FL 2440 2412 1.0
25 IM Ginsburg, Mark AZ 2425 2367 1.0
26 IM Sarkar, Justin NY 2399 2323 1.0
27   Liu, Elliott CA 2266 2139 1.0
28 WFM Abrahamyan, Tatev (w) CA 2325 2254 0.5
29   Airapetian, Chouchanik (w) WA 2162 2130 0.5
30 WFM Itkis,Hana (w) NJ 2149 2105 0.5
31   West, Vanessa (w) CA 2034 2083 0.5
32 WCM Christiansen, Natasha (w) MA 1872 2003 0.0

(w) indicates eligibility for women's championship title and prizes

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