US Championship – Kamsky wins the title in tiebreak

by ChessBase
5/26/2010 – It is an unusual system: the two players tied for first each secretly bid for the amount of time they would be willing to accept. The player with the lower bid gets that, the choice of colour and draw odds, the opponent has 60 minutes. Gata Kamsky bid 25 minutes and took black. He held Yury Shulman to a draw and with that took the title of US Champion. Final 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

With only seconds remaining on his clock, GM Gata Kamsky simplified the endgame against GM Yury Shulman to clinch a draw and with it the title of 2010 U.S. Champion. He last won the title in his teenage years in 1991.

GM Yury Shulman gained 23 FIDE rating points at the U.S. Championship

Kamsky won with a draw because of the unique tiebreak format, which saw the players bid on a starting time for today’s rapid game.

Gata Kamsky, who won the US title nineteen years ago

Shulman and Kamsky began the game by secretly bidding an amount of time they would be willing to accept. The player with the lower bid gets that amount of time (plus a five-second increment) and the other player gets 60 minutes. The lower bidding player also gets choice of color, with black having draw odds. Most players expect that unless the winning bid is close to 60 minutes, then the person with less time will choose black. Incidentally a very similar system was proposed by our reader Darshan Singh of Durham, NC, three years ago (third letter from the bottom).

Shulman vs Kamsky in the final tiebreak game

Kamsky's secret bid of 25 minutes was lower than Shulman’s bid, so Kamsky got 25 minutes to his opponent’s 60, but with black and draw odds. “I wanted black because I’m more solid with black,” Kamsky explained.

The Quad finals in the Chess Club & Scholastic Center of Saint Louis

US Championship participants watching the action

A guest from Europe: GM Loek van Wely, Holland, comments with Jennifer Shahade

Shulman,Y (2613) - Kamsky,G (2702) [D11]
ch-USA Playoff Saint Louis USA (1), 25.05.2010
1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.e3 g6 5.Nc3 Bg7 6.Be2 0-0 7.0-0 Qb6 8.b3 Bg4 9.Ba3 Re8 10.Rc1 e6 11.h3 Bxf3 12.Bxf3 Nbd7 13.Bd6 Bf8 14.Bg3 a5 15.Qc2 Qa7 16.Rfd1 Nb6 17.Be2 Nc8 18.c5 b6 19.Na4 Ne4 20.Be5 b5 21.Nb6 Nxb6 22.cxb6 Qxb6 23.f3 Nd6 24.Qxc6 Reb8 25.Qxb6 Rxb6 26.Kf2 Ne8 27.Rc2 Ba3 28.e4 Kf8 29.g4 h6 30.h4 Rd8 31.Bf4 Kg7 32.Be3 Nd6 33.exd5 exd5 34.Rc5 Ne8 35.Rxb5 Rxb5 36.Bxb5 Nc7 37.Bd3 Ne6 38.f4 Be7 39.Rh1 Bf6 40.h5 gxh5 41.Rxh5 Bxd4 42.Bxd4+ Nxd4 43.Ke3 Nc6 44.Bb5 Nb4 45.Kd4 Rb8 46.a4 Rc8 47.Re5 Kf6 48.Rf5+ Kg6 49.Re5 Kf6 50.g5+ hxg5 51.fxg5+ Kg6 52.Re7 Ra8 53.Be8 Kxg5 54.Kc5 f5 55.Rg7+ Kf6 56.Rg6+ Ke7 57.Bb5 f4 58.Rg4 f3 59.Kb6 f2 60.Rf4 Rf8 61.Rxf8 Kxf8 62.Kxa5 Nc6+ 63.Kb6 Nd4 64.Bf1 Nxb3 65.Kb5 Ke7 66.Kb4 draw.

After the game, Kamsky said he thought his bid was too low. He said if he had it to do over again, he would bid something around 30 minutes. Shulman built up a promising position and was better for most of the game according to Kamsky.

Shulman and Kamsky in the press conference with Jennifer Shahade and Maurice Ashley

The two finalists in good sprits at the end of a gruelling championship

After the game, the two came down to the commentary room. A relieved Kamsky approached the stage and let out a cheer. Normally reserved, he raised his arms in a “V” for victory.

The winner of the tiebreak gets an extra $5,000 and the title of 2010 U.S. Champion. Shulman last won the title in 2008 and Kamsky in 1991.

Onischuk vs Nakamura in the battle for third place

In the third place game, GM Alex Onischuk and GM Hikaru Nakamura also drew. They finish equal third and both win $12,500.

More pictures from Saint Louis

The participants of the US Championship as portraits on the wall

In charge of the bell (and organisation and commentary): Jennifer Shahade

One of the top US grandmasters: Alexander Onischuk

Some open-air blitz between Irina Krush and Rex Sinquefield: President & Chairman
of the Board of the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis

Rex the Brave takes on Hikaru the Deadly...

... with encouragement from Jennifer Shahade and Irina Krush

Report by FM Mike Klein, photos by Betsy Dynako


The games are being broadcast live on the official web site and with the kind cooperation of the organisers on If you are not a member you can download the free PGN reader ChessBase Light, which gives you immediate access. You can also use the program to read, replay and analyse PGN games. New and enhanced: CB Light 2009!

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