A Blindfold Surprise!

A Blindfold Surprise!

GM Shankland
Apr 1, 2011, 11:46 AM |

Well, when I got up this morning, I was in for quite a shock! In my inbox was an email from the St. Louis Chess Center informing me that Hikaru Nakamura had changed his mind about declining his invitation to the U.S. Championship, and would in fact be playing... in my section!

It's true that my  main preparations only begin today, so in some sense this info came to me in time. But still, why are they showing him this kind of preferential treatment? It doesn't seem fair for Shaba who will have to give up the spot that he had been told he had when Naka first declined. Shaba probably arranged his schedule around it somewhat.

More importantly, what does it mean for my chances to become U.S. Champion? Well, basically, it makes it a whole lot harder. Only 2 players from each group advance to the final four, and now I have both Naka and Onischuk to contend with in my group. Not to mention Yasser Seirawan whose chess class may still make him a really dangerous contender.

But a further insult to the prestige of the event is this: Nakamura apparently told them: "Playing in the Amber tournament, I realized that blindfolded chess was quite an interesting and fun challenge. And as you can see, I fell far short of first place in that discpline, so I naturally want to improve at those things that challenge me. I think that if I play the U.S. Championship blindfolded, it actually might be a slightly interesting event for a player at my current level, and that's why I've decided to play." So, apparently, Naka will be playing his games in the event blindfolded, which means when we play him there's extra pressure. Lose, and you look like a real big doofus!

CCSCSl will be making their official announcement on Monday next week, but I think it may already be time for people to think about if this is a good idea for how we want to see the U.S. Championship, the most prestigious event in the U.S., run. And if you don't like this, please send an email to them, and let them know!

The address to use is uschamps@ccscsl.org .

Meanwhile, I guess it's time for me to start looking over Naka's games... especially from Amber. Oof! Lots of work to do, lots of work.

Cheers everyone,