Kamsky and Nakamura Set For Round 3 Clash

Kamsky and Nakamura Set For Round 3 Clash

| 17 | Chess Event Coverage

Round 2 Report by FM Mike Klein

St. Louis, May 16, 2010 – Chess fans will not have to wait much longer for the strongest matchup of the 2010 U.S. Championship, as the top two seeds will face each other in round three. Both GM Hikaru Nakamura (pictured) and GM Gata Kamsky, the first and second seeds of the tournament, won again today to push their totals to 2-0. They are the only players with perfect scores, and tomorrow Kamsky will have White.

Round 2 results in full:

GM Nakamura, Hikaru  2733 1-0 GM Hess, Robert L  2590
GM Khachiyan, Melikset  2539 0-1 GM Kamsky, Gata  2702
GM Onischuk, Alexander  2699 ½-½ GM Christiansen, Larry  2578
GM Ehlvest, Jaan  2591 ½-½ IM Krush, Irina  2455
IM Altounian, Levon  2454 ½-½ GM Shulman, Yuri  2613
GM Akobian, Varuzhan  2599 1-0 GM Kraai, Jesse  2492
GM Shabalov, Alexander  2585 1-0 GM Finegold, Benjamin  2539
GM Bhat, Vinay S  2547 0-1 GM Kudrin, Sergey  2571
IM Shankland, Samuel  2507 ½-½ IM Lenderman, Alex  2598
GM Kaidanov, Gregory  2577 ½-½ GM Benjamin, Joel  2565
GM Gurevich, Dmitry  2488 0-1 GM Stripunsky, Alexander  2570
GM Robson, Ray  2569 0-1 GM Yermolinsky, Alex  2528

Nakamura began gaining a useful spatial advantage against recent high-school graduate GM Robert Hess, who was last year’s Cinderella story at the championship. Hess claimed he had no idea what opening to prepare for. In the middlegame, Hess said he felt he could not stand by and allow the White f-pawn to advance. He began operations on the queenside with 15…b5, and Nakamura admitted to analyzing variations that included the move, but “somehow I overlooked …b5 itself,” adding, “it might be the best move as far as practical chances.” But in the end Hess’ open c-file was for naught and Nakamura used his queenside pawn phalanx to win the endgame.  

Kamsky kept pace by coyly jettisoning his b-pawn for a nebulous initiative against GM Melikset Khachiyan. Kamsky said the pawn was not “poisoned” but he thought he had positional compensation. While Khachiyan had a chance to lock up the position, as many players would against a higher-rated opponent, he said he only came to St. Louis to play for wins. Kamsky agreed. “That’s why we play chess." he said. "We fight. We don’t just take the easy way out.”   

Nakamura and Kamsky last played at the 2009 U.S. Championship, where they played an exciting 35-move draw that ended with a repetition of position. As GM Maurice Ashley explained in the commentary, this year is especially exciting since the duo might have to face each other twice, once in the Swiss and once in the quad finale, a la the two USA-Canada men’s ice hockey meetings at the Vancouver Winter Olympics.

Jennifer Shahade and Maurice Ashley commentating on the games


For the second day in a row, more than half of the games produced a winner. This time seven of the 12 games ended decisively. 

GM Alex Yermolinsky got his first point of the event by defeating rising star GM Ray Robson, who has started 0-2. This seemed to be a case of experience being more useful than young energy and calm nerves. Yermolinsky played a rare …d5 pawn thrust that he once used in a rapid game against elite player Michael Adams at a World Championship.  

Robson labored over the decision whether to accept the sacrifice, and when he did, all of his opponent’s pieces rushed into the attack. “I saw …Bxc2, and it didn’t look good (for me), but I didn’t know what else to do,” Robson said. 

“When people tell me White can just take the pawn and live to tell the tale, I’m not arguing,” Yermolinsky said. He said he guessed a person could use a computer to check the validity of the idea. “But I’ve got other things to do in life than check every variation with a computer.” 

The round also featured a pair of throwback openings, as two Benonis and two King’s Indian Defenses delighted any chess fans that relish hypermodern opening systems and the 1990s. Kamsky’s victory was on the Black side of a King’s Indian, and GM Larry Christiansen also used the opening to hold GM Alexander Onischuk to a draw. The Benoni did not fare as well. While GM Joel Benjamin drew GM Gregory Kaidanov as Black, GM Varuzhan Akobian as White swiftly checkmated GM Jesse Kraai.  

“Whenever you think you’re better and you’re not, you’re going to make some mistakes,” Kraai said. He said he was still bothered by his draw in round one against GM Alex Shabalov. Thinking he should have played on for a win, Kraai could not sleep well. 

Onischuk, Christiansen and Akobian, all now with 1.5/2, are also joined by GM Jaan Ehlvest and IM Irina Krush, who drew to equal the score. Two other players have one win and one draw. Shabalov defeated GM Ben Finegold and GM Sergey Kudrin won against GM Vinay Bhat. 

In other action, youngsters IM Sam Shankland and GM Aleksandr Lenderman battled down to king versus king before agreeing to peace, while GM Alex Stripunsky dispatched GM Dmitry Gurevich.







Pictures by Betsy Dynako, courtesy of the official site.

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