St. Louis: Nakamura and Robson prevail in whirlwind final

5/27/2011 – Both the native GMs led after the six classical games. Hikaru Nakamura went on to defeat Ukrainian FIDE ex-world champion Ruslan Ponomariov by 3-1 in the rapids, while Ray Robson held Ben Feingold 2-2 to maintain his two-point overall lead. The rapid chess phase was interrupted by tornado warnings, which sent the players into the basement. Final report.

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The first-ever international match at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis took place from May 17-25, 2011. The marquis match-up featured GM Ruslan Ponomariov of Ukraine against GM Hikaru Nakamura of Saint Louis. The Chess Club’s Resident GM Ben Finegold is also took on 16-year-old GM Ray Robson, of Florida. Each match consisted of six games played with a classical time control and four rapid games.

Whirlwind Rapid Play Ends International Match

By Ken West

The two Saint Louis grandmasters prevailed in the first day of rapid chess in the international match on Tuesday, each notching a win with white and holding with the black pieces. GM Hikaru Nakamura showed a risky plan that would not work in longer time controls can provide enough problems to win with the faster time control. He opened with b3 as white after gaining a draw in the first game with the Dutch Defense against former world champion GM Ruslan Ponomariov. GM Ben Finegold won with the white pieces in his first rapid game against GM Ray Robson.

On Wednesday tornado warnings sent the four grandmasters in the international match to the basement more than once at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis Wednesday, but the unusual had already hit the boards. GMs Hikaru Nakamura and Ray Robson each won with black in the first of their two rapid games on the final day of competition. Nakamura finished with a 6.5 to 3.5 score against former world champion Ruslan Ponomariov and Robson had a 6 to 4 score over Ben Finegold.


Saint Louis GMs Prevail in First Rapid Showdown

In the first of two rapid games, Nakamura played the Slav against GM Ruslan Ponomariov’s d4, and GM Ben Finegold played d4 followed by Nc3 on his second move, the Veresov, according to commentator WGM Jen Shahade. Ponomariov may have been thrown off his game briefly as he had never experienced a tornado. As the games were halted, he joined others and watched as the weather maps lit up red, which signified tornado warnings. In the meantime, his second, GM Ivan Salgado Lopez of Spain and GM Alejandro Ramirez played blitz during the delay. Once play resumed, Nakamura was able to quickly dispatch the former FIDE World Champion.

But Ponomariov provided tornado action in the final rapid match, busting out the Benko, an opening IM John Donaldson said was one of the Ukrainian’s childhood favorites. “I wanted to have some fun because I already lost the match,” Ponomariov said. “Why not have fun?” He said he thought it would be an easier line for him to play since he knew it. “Somehow even in this game, Hikaru played faster than me,” Ponomariov said. The young Ukrainian expressed thanks for “such an opportunity to play such games.”

Discussing about what he learned from the match, Ponomariov talked about Nakamura’s play. “It’s interesting to see Hikaru fight in every game and finds ways to put pressure on the position,” he said. Nakamura also complimented the former world champion on his play. The Saint Louis grandmaster noted he was usually the one dealing with jet lag and time zone changes to play such matches. “I think Ruslan was better prepared than me in general,” he said. “I think I was a bit fortunate, especially game three.”

Finegold said the weather break gave the GMs a rare opportunity. “We got to chat a little bit,” the club’s resident GM said. But the chatting did not get in the way of chess. In their first game, Finegold and Robson played 97 moves before the game settled. “The candidates matches – the players should be ashamed of themselves,” Finegold said about several short draws. “Hikaru played for wins, Ruslan played aggressive chess and Ray played for the win.” Finegold pointed out there were draw offers in their games, but there also was a draw by the 50-move rule and repetition of the position.

Asked about what he learned from the match, the young Robson said he had to improve every aspect of his game. The next event at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis is the U.S. Junior Closed Championship from June 15-25.

Scoreboard

 
Nat.
Rtg
G1
G2
G3
G4
G5
G6
R1
R2
R3
R4
Tot.
Perf
Hikaru Nakamura
USA
2774
0
½
1
½
½
1
½
1
1
½
6.5
2861
Ruslan Ponomariov
UKR
2754
1
½
0
½
½
0
½
0
0
½
3.5
2667

 
Nat.
Rtg
G1
G2
G3
G4
G5
G6
R1
R2
R3
R4
Tot.
Perf
Ray Robson
USA
2582
1
½
½
½
½
1
0
½
1
½
6.0
2564
Ben Feingold
USA
2494
0
½
½
½
½
0
1
½
0
½
4.0
2475

You can watch extensive commentary of the round in the player on the tournament page – hours and hours of archived video.


Links

The games are being broadcast live on the official web site and on the chess server Playchess.com. If you are not a member you can download a free Playchess client there and get immediate access. You can also use ChessBase 11 or any of our Fritz compatible chess programs.


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