Nakamura, Krush Add More National Titles | Update: VIDEO

Nakamura, Krush Add More National Titles | Update: VIDEO

[Update 4/13/15: a video with Hikaru Nakamura has been added to the report.]

GMs Hikaru Nakamura and Irina Krush both sealed victory today at the 2015 U.S. Championships.

For Nakamura, he won his fourth career title, while Krush won her fourth in a row and seventh overall.

Nakamura needed to win to prevent any chance of GMs Alex Onischuk or Ray Robson from forcing a tiebreak tomorrow. He got a position which had no risk, and his life was made even easier when Onischuk walked into a fork.

After capturing 31. Nxe2, the final move of the game, Onischuk simply laughed, apparently not realizing that it was en prise.

Analysis by GM Ben Finegold:

"If you can keep the pawn on b3, White can never do anything," Nakamura said during some post-game analysis. He said his plan was to get the pawn to b4, then play a combination of Nc6 and Ra5 to break the blockade. He ended up not needing any of that as Onischuk's pieces became untenable in White's end of the board.

As it turned out, Nakamura's win (for 8.0/11) was needed since Robson beat GM Timur Gareev today to take clear second with 7.5/11.

The chronology of a championship: Onischuk releases the knight on d1 to a bemused Nakamura. Moments later...
Onischuk laughs at his oversight, and congratulates his longtime U.S. teammate.

Chess.com recorded an exclusive video interview with Nakamura after the game, in which he discussed the tournament, the FIDE Grand Prix series, and the possibility of playing for a world championship in the U.S.

Onischuk was in great spirits despite the loss. "I equalized easily," he said, explaining that Black has no problems after castling in this line of the Scotch Gambit. "That's the thing -- when I equalize I start playing badly."

"I lost to two guys that are better than me," he said. Onischuk's other loss came to GM Wesley So earlier in the tournament.

So won again today, going two for two after his forfeit loss in round 9 (better than even GM Bobby Fischer, who "only" went 1.5/2 after forfeiting Game 2 in the 1972 World Championship). So (6.5/11) thus leapfrogs Onischuk (6.0/11) for clear third place. So only played one draw over the fortnight.

Three tournament titles in a row for GM Hikaru Nakamura, who poses with club founder Rex Sinquefield.

Robson's second-place finish is easily the best of his career in St. Louis, and maybe anywhere. His performance rating ended north of 2750 over the 11 rounds. Today, he may have been aided by a late-arriving Gareev, whose hair was still wet when he got to the board.

"I think Timur's absolutely lost it," GM Yasser Seirawan said of some of his moves. "He's having a terrible day. The computer is puking!" (Before the first dozen moves were played, the numbers came in at -2.0.)

GM Maurice Ashley's take? "It's awful. Not only is it awful, it's embarassing and ridiculous." 
Judge for yourself:

GM Gata Kamsky's title run at the U.S. Championships "officially" ended today at two in a row. He drew GM Daniel Naroditsky today.

Many pundits wondered how So would handle the psychology of forfeiting a game. Yesterday's convincing win over Kamsky was coupled with another smooth victory today against GM Kayden Troff, which ended one move before a pretty knight mate.


Meanwhile the titles keep tallying up for Krush. Her task was much easier today -- she only needed a draw to secure victory.

She earned it without complications. WGM Katerina Nemcova was delighted with a draw nonetheless, explaining that her second place tie was good enough for an invite for the Women's World Championship (IM Nazi Paikidze also earns a spot as the other second place finisher).

IM Nazi Paikidze, tying for second in her first U.S. Women's Championship (she also finished as high as second in the Georgian Championship).

Krush has been in this situation before. "c4 is an abstract move," she said of her opening choice. "Absolutely anything can happen with this move. I'm showing that I'm ready for a fight."

Touchdown! GM Irina Krush won her seventh U.S. Women's Championship today.

"My collection's growing," Krush said. "It's a nice number...I'd like to break the record (9) one day. If I get to 10, that'll be pretty good."

As has become her custom, Krush gave a lot of credit to her coach, GM Giorgi Kacheishvili. She said he helped her get through tough results, most especially failing to win in round six versus WGM Anna Sharevich. "He understood what a psychological blow it was. He said, 'Now we'll see what you're made of.'"

GM Irina Krush, relaxed after the championship.
In other news in the women's event, IM Nazi Paikidze drew to equal Nemcova for second place.
WIM Viktorija Ni could well have won the event if it had gone on long enough.
Also, WIM Viktorija Ni kept up her furious run. After a slow start, she finished with five wins and two draws from the final seven games. Her fourth place finish (7.0/11) is the best of her U.S. Championship career.
Analysis by GM Ben Finegold:
WGM Anna Sharevich (6.5/11) finished fifth in her first championship and WGM Rusa Goletiani (6.0/11) ended sixth in her return to the tournament.
WGM Tatev Abrahamyan didn't challenge for first this year, but she was in good spirits before the final game.

Finally, we close with GM Sam Sevian versus GM Conrad Holt, the longest, and perhaps craziest game of the entire tournament. The game ended well after the commentary concluded, which is a shame considering we had king walks, four queens, and, sadly, a player who flagged on the 100th move despite being ahead by two pawns.

The real tragedy for Holt is that the loss cost him a chance to qualify for the World Cup (it would have depended on his tiebreaks). It appears at the time of this writing that the five qualifiers will be Nakamura, Robson, So, Onischuk, and Akobian, who has better tiebreaks at 5.5/11 than Kamsky or Sevian (according to the official site).
This is the first combined U.S. Championship and U.S. Women's Championship held in St. Louis that will not require any playoffs after regulation play. The closing ceremonies are tomorrow night.

2015 U.S. Championship | Final Standings

Rank Name Score Rating TPR
1 GM Nakamura, Hikaru 8 2798 2803
2 GM Robson, Ray 7.5 2656 2774
3 GM So, Wesley 6.5 2788 2694
4 GM Onischuk, Alexander 6 2665 2676
5 GM Kamsky, Gata 5.5 2683 2638
6 GM Akobian, Varuzhan 5.5 2622 2644
7 GM Sevian, Samuel 5.5 2531 2652
8 GM Shankland, Samuel L 5 2661 2604
9 GM Troff, Kayden W 5 2532 2616
10 GM Holt, Conrad 4.5 2530 2587
11 GM Gareev, Timur 4 2604 2543
12 GM Naroditsky, Daniel 3 2633 2468

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2015 U.S. Women's Championship | Final Standings

Rank Name Score Rating TPR
1 GM Krush, Irina 8.5 2477 2444
2 IM Paikidze, Nazi 7.5 2333 2366
3 WGM Nemcova, Katerina 7.5 2279 2368
4 WIM Ni, Viktorija 7 2188 2345
5 WGM Sharevich, Anna 6.5 2267 2301
6 IM Goletiani, Rusudan 6 2311 2269
7 WGM Abrahamyan, Tatev 5.5 2322 2233
8 WGM Foisor, Sabina-Francesca 5.5 2235 2239
9 WCM Virkud, Apurva 3.5 2132 2115
10 WIM Wang, Annie 3.5 1901 2114
11 FM Melekhina, Alisa 2.5 2235 2028
12 WFM Yu, Jennifer R 2.5 2180 2033

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