Nakamura Draws; Robson In 2nd By Beating So

Nakamura Draws; Robson In 2nd By Beating So

Today offered a little clarity about the chase group at the 2015 U.S. Championship and U.S. Women's Championship. You can thank the Webster University Gorloks for that, as teammates GM Ray Robson and WGM Anna Sharevich both played pivotal games, while WGM Katerina Nemcova kept doing her thing.

In the open championship, Robson walked against the cliff of the chess clock for the thousandth time in his career, but emerged unscathed after GM Wesley So took a significant risk during his own time pressure.

As for the ladies, GM Irina Krush botched a winning position against Sharevich, then missed a stunning resource and settled for allowing a perpetual.

Meanwhile, GM Hikaru Nakamura kept his lead at a half-game, but Robson replaces So as the new chaser. Also, Nemcova kept using her wide array of seconds at Webster University to win again -- her fourth in six games (with two draws).

GM Ray Robson had been beaten by GM Wesley So many times in many formats, until today.

Although it didn't make a large impact on the top of the tables, the novelty of the tournament came from WIM Viktorja Ni. Dubbed "Viktorija's Secret" by GM Yasser Seirawan, Ni's invention came as early as move 5! More on that at the bottom of this report.

Before we move on, you may be wondering, "what is a Gorlok?" According to the school's website, it has the paws of a cheetah, the horns of a buffalo, and the face of a St. Bernard. At this year's championship, that three-headed creature of Robson, Sharevich and Nemcova had a pretty good day!

Robson played the final 10 moves before time control only on increment, but still had the skills needed to notch his biggest win ever.

"My position was a little bit easier," he said about the mutual time trouble. "I had this a-pawn. I just had to push it."

He questioned two parts of his friend So's game. First, Robson wondered why he avoided the main lines of the Berlin. "He tried something different and I don't think he was prepared," Robson said. "It cost him." 

Robson also said 34...g5 could be OK objectively, but from a practical perspective, it was too big of a risk to take with the clock dwindling. Robson added that he liked getting White against the top two seeds, as he wanted them to take risks as Black to try to win. Looking ahead, Robson controls his own destiny, as he is one point back but takes White against Nakamura in round 10.

Analysis by GM Ben Finegold:



Robson said he's been victimized by his former roommate plenty of times before today. In addition to lots of blitz games, he's gone down to So in a Chess.com Death Match (losing by the largest margin in history), in the SPICE Cup, and most recently in the finals of the Millionaire Chess Open. Although that last encounter was the difference of $50,000, Robson said winning a U.S. title means more to him.

So, normally jovial throughout the event, left the club immediately after the game. "I feel bad I ruined his chances for the tournament," Robson said.

Nakamura's draw with GM Sam Shankland didn't stray from close equality all game but dide widen his lead over the second-seeded. Two other men began the day tied with Robson but both lost.

The two youngest players, Troff and Sevian, are collectively above .500. 

In the teenager battle, GM Kayden Troff went down to GM Sam Sevian -- the game concluded with the pawnless ending of rook versus underpromoted knight, but it was actually just a desperation ploy for Troff. His king was too weak to protect and so the 14-year-old moved to +1 in his second U.S. Championship.

Meanwhile GM Gata Kamsky's streak of 10 consecutive draws as Black in the U.S. Championship ended as longtime Olympiad teammate GM Alex Onischuk scored his first non-draw of the competition. Kamsky's last loss here came in 2012.

GM Alex Onischuk joked that it looked like he may draw all 11 games (he's now +1-0=5).

On the other side of the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis, the lead stretched to a full point. Nemcova eventually broke through against WFM Jennifer Yu's centralized king, and the Webster University graduate student even got to play her second checkmate of the tournament (she also mated Sharevich)!

"I also got checkmated last year," Nemcova said. "It's not like you can never get checkmated!"

"I'm really happy the way I played," Nemcova said. "My opening preparation worked."

Before you think her storied college program is just a name on her jacket, listen to how she prepares each game. Nemcova simply selects which opening she is likely to play, then picks out which teammate will second her for that game! Her choices include about a dozen GMs!

"There's so much positivity on the team," Nemcova said. "It's not like if you're not 2700 they don't care."

It looked like her win would be matched by Krush, who began and ended the day in second-place.

WGM Anna Sharevich waits but even GM Irina Krush's eager posture wasn't enough to find the win.

With two connected passers gliding down the board, somehow the win proved elusive. Sharevich gained counterplay, then thought she was forcing a draw with 42. Rxg6+? The problem? White wins by amazingly not taking the rook! The h-pawn provides the necessary cover for the king, while there's also an antidote to White's 43. Rxg7+.

Analysis by GM Ben Finegold:



Krush now has company in second. Catching up was IM Rusa Goletiani, who continues to show little rust from her three-year hiatus from tournament chess. Her only hiccup came in the round five loss to Krush, a game in which she said she played well.

Like Krush, Goletiani's pawns rolled. Unlike Krush, she won with them.

The loss hit hard though, and Goletiani admitted to not sleeping well Sunday night. She felt lucky there were no games yesterday. And while Nemcova has a bevy of teammates for support, Goletiani relies on her family.

After calling home following the loss, Goletiani's seven-year-old daughter sensed her mother's voice quivering. "Don't worry mom, you'll always be my champion," she said. Goletiani almost cried during the retelling. If she keeps getting pawn centers like this, she may well win her second title:

Analysis by GM Ben Finegold:



Goletiani has already played the top three women in the standings, so her path to first may be slightly easier than her competition.

Taking a step away from the tournament's top-enders, what to do if you're trying to overcome a slow start but don't have a team of grandmasters at your disposal? Call a U.S. champion (it would help if you're married to one)!

GM Yury Shulman, the 2008 winner, researched and delivered a novelty to his wife Viktorija Ni in the Scandinavian. She balked at first, still needing some assurance to sac a pawn on move 5.

"It's a gambling move," Shulman told Ni. "He convinced me my pieces will move better than in other openings." Shulman was right!

Ni explained further that she played FM Alisa Melekhina in 2013, also after a rest day. Back then, Melekhina, an "e4-lifer", played 1. d4 to earn the first surprise. Today, Ni wanted to return the favor.

Tomorrow's round seven will be at 1 p.m. Central time (GMT -6) and can be followed live at www.chess.com/tv.

2015 U.S. Championship | Pairings for Round 7

Table White Score Rating Black Score Rating
1 GM Akobian, Varuzhan 2.5 2622 GM Troff, Kayden W 3 2532
2 GM Kamsky, Gata 3 2683 GM Holt, Conrad 2.5 2530
3 GM So, Wesley 3.5 2788 GM Onischuk, Alexander 3.5 2665
4 GM Naroditsky, Daniel 1.5 2633 GM Robson, Ray 4 2656
5 GM Shankland, Samuel L 2.5 2661 GM Gareev, Timur 2 2604
6 GM Sevian, Samuel 3.5 2531 GM Nakamura, Hikaru 4.5 2798

---

2015 U.S. Women's Championship | Pairings for Round 7

Table White Score Rating Black Score Rating
1 WGM Nemcova, Katerina 5 2279 WCM Virkud, Apurva 2.5 2132
2 WGM Foisor, Sabina-Francesca 3 2235 WFM Yu, Jennifer R 1.5 2180
3 WIM Ni, Viktorija 3 2188 WGM Abrahamyan, Tatev 3.5 2322
4 IM Paikidze, Nazi 3.5 2333 FM Melekhina, Alisa 2 2235
5 GM Krush, Irina 4 2477 WIM Wang, Annie 1.5 1901
6 IM Goletiani, Rusudan 4 2311 WGM Sharevich, Anna 2.5 2267

---

2015 U.S. Championship | Standings After Round 6

Rank Name Score Rating TPR
1 GM Nakamura, Hikaru 4.5 2798 2846
2 GM Robson, Ray 4 2656 2762
3 GM So, Wesley 3.5 2788 2704
4 GM Onischuk, Alexander 3.5 2665 2662
5 GM Sevian, Samuel 3.5 2531 2710
6 GM Kamsky, Gata 3 2683 2653
7 GM Troff, Kayden W 3 2532 2613
8 GM Shankland, Samuel L 2.5 2661 2604
9 GM Akobian, Varuzhan 2.5 2622 2574
10 GM Holt, Conrad 2.5 2530 2589
11 GM Gareev, Timur 2 2604 2529
12 GM Naroditsky, Daniel 1.5 2633 2459

---

2015 U.S. Women's Championship| Standings After Round 6

Rank Name Score Rating TPR
1 WGM Nemcova, Katerina 5 2279 2476
2 GM Krush, Irina 4 2477 2369
3 IM Goletiani, Rusudan 4 2311 2399
4 IM Paikidze, Nazi 3.5 2333 2275
5 WGM Abrahamyan, Tatev 3.5 2322 2221
6 WGM Foisor, Sabina-Francesca 3 2235 2252
7 WIM Ni, Viktorija 3 2188 2254
8 WGM Sharevich, Anna 2.5 2267 2225
9 WCM Virkud, Apurva 2.5 2132 2253
10 FM Melekhina, Alisa 2 2235 2098
11 WFM Yu, Jennifer R 1.5 2180 1996
12 WIM Wang, Annie 1.5 1901 2054

More from FM MikeKlein
Mamedyarov, Aronian Lead After Sinquefield Cup Opener

Mamedyarov, Aronian Lead After Sinquefield Cup Opener

Carlsen Arrives As Sinquefield Cup Begins

Carlsen Arrives As Sinquefield Cup Begins