US Championship: Shulman and Akobian hold the lead

5/14/2009 – As overnight leaders, defending Champion Yury Shulman and North Hollywood GM Varuzhan Akobian were matched up in round six. A win would have given the victor sole possession of first place, but the two drew in 33. They share the lead with 4.5 points, followed by a pack of six players, including Kamsky, Nakamura and Onischuk, half a point behind. Illustrated round six report.

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2009 US Chess Championship

The 2009 US Chess Championship is being 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 offers a purse of more than $130,000 in prize money. It is a nine-round Swiss, with one round per day and a rest day between rounds seven and eight. Time controls are the classical 40 moves in two hours, with one hour allowed for all remaining moves and a five second increment for all move.

Round six – Shulman and Akobian hold the lead


Yury Shulman and Alexander Onischuk finish their pre-game walk

Defending champion Yury Shulman and Varuzhan Akobian continue to hold the lead of the 2009 US Championship. As overnight leaders, the two were matched up Wednesday in round six. A win would have given the victor sole possession of first place, but Shulman and Akobian played to a draw. They share the top of the leader board with 4.5 points.

GM Varuzhan Akobian, North Hollywood

Highlights: 2004 World Open, tied for first place in the 2002 World Open.

Bio: Varuzhan Akobian qualified to play his first rated tournament, the Armenian Junior Chess Championship in 1992, earning 3rd place in the under 10 section, then went on to take 1st place the following year. He participated in his first World Chess Championship in Czechoslovakia at the age of 9 and placed 8th. He won the Samford Chess Fellowship in 2002, which allowed him to focus on chess for two years. It paid off: Akobian reached his first long-time goal of becoming a Grandmaster in 2004. Akobian is known for being a great team player: He was a member of the bronze medal Olympiad teams in 2006 and 2008. He was also featured on MTV’s “True Life” series. Akobian is the highest-ranked Californian player.

Full article here


Alexander Onischuk vs Hikaru Nakamura – draw in 43 moves

A pack of six players is half a point back, including the top three ranked US players coming into the tournament: New Yorkers Gata Kamsky and Hikaru Nakamura, and Alexander Onischuk, of Baltimore. Also in the group is 17-year-old Robert Hess, of New York, who played to a draw Wednesday in his match with Kamsky.


17-year-old Robert Hess (right) drew his round six game against Gata Kamsky

The youngest player in the field, 14-year-old Ray Robson, of Largo, Fla., beat three-time U.S. champion Larry Christiansen, of Cambridge, Mass., as the young phenom took a big step in his quest to becoming the country's youngest chess grandmaster.


IM Ray Robson, Largo, Florida

Highlights: National Champion, elementary division, 2005 Super Nationals, tied for first in 2005 and 2006 Pan American Youth Championships.

Bio: Ray Robson learned chess at age 3 and has earned seven national scholastic titles since. For winning the Super Nationals, he will receive a full scholarship to the University of Texas at Dallas. Robson finished in the top 10 at the World Youth Championship from 2004 to 2007. He defeated his first Grandmaster in 2006, the same year he earned the USCF National Master title. He’s the youngest IM in the U.S. and is widely considered as America’s brightest hope to become an elite GM since Hikaru Nakamura. Robson studies with No. 3 seed in the tournament, Alexander Onischuk.

Full article here

Christiansen,L (2588) - Robson,R (2465) [D31]
ch-USA Saint Louis USA (6), 13.05.2009
1.c4 e6 2.Nc3 d5 3.d4 c6 4.e4 dxe4 5.Nxe4 Bb4+ 6.Bd2 Qxd4 7.Bxb4 Qxe4+ 8.Ne2 Na6 9.Bf8 Ne7 10.Bxg7 Nb4 11.Qd6 Nc2+ 12.Kd2 Nxa1 13.Bxh8 Qc2+ 14.Ke1 Qxc4 15.Nc3 Qb4 16.Qd2 e5 17.Qc1 Bg4 18.f3 Bxf3 19.Bf6 Nd5 20.Bxe5 Qe7 21.gxf3 Qxe5+ 22.Kf2 Qd4+ 23.Kg3 Ne3 24.Bh3 Nac2 25.Nd1 f5 26.Nxe3 f4+ 27.Kf2 fxe3+ 28.Kg3 Qd6+ 29.f4 Qd3 30.Rd1 Qg6+ 31.Kf3 Qh5+ 32.Bg4 Qxh2 33.Rd6 Qf2+ 34.Ke4 e2 35.Bxe2 Qxe2+ 36.Kf5 Ke7 0-1.

Also breaking down the barriers in the game was another outstanding performance from Irina Krush, of Brooklyn, N.Y., the sole woman player in the championship after the illness-related withdrawal of Anna Zatonskih of Long Island, N.Y. Krush turned in the best performance of the day by beating Julio Becerra, a grandmaster from Miami, Fl.

Krush,I (2452) - Becerra Rivero,J (2609) [D44]
ch-USA Saint Louis USA (6), 13.05.2009
1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 e6 5.Bg5 dxc4 6.e4 b5 7.e5 h6 8.Bh4 g5 9.Nxg5 hxg5 10.Bxg5 Nbd7 11.exf6 Bb7 12.g3 c5 13.d5 Qb6 14.Bg2 b4 15.Na4 Qa6 16.0-0 0-0-0 17.a3 Bxd5 18.Bxd5 Ne5 19.axb4 Rxd5 20.Qe2 cxb4 21.Nc3 Ra5 22.Rxa5 Qxa5 23.Ne4 Nd3 24.Be3 Qh5 25.f3 Qe5 26.Qc2 Qb5 27.b3 c3 28.Bxa7 Rh5 29.Be3 Qa6 30.Bg5 Ne5 31.h4 Rh8 32.Kg2 Bh6 33.Bxh6 Rxh6 34.Rd1 Rh8 35.Nd6+ Kb8 36.Qe4 Nc6 37.Nxf7 Rf8 38.Ne5 Nxe5 39.Qxe5+ Ka8 40.Rd6 Qa7

and Black resigned, seeing there is no defence against the mate in 37. 1-0.

Current standings

All pictures by Betsy Dynako of Inspiring Art

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