Nakamura wins second US Ch title

0 | Chess Event Coverage
NakamuraHikaru Nakamura (21) won the the 2009 U.S. Chess Championship on Sunday after beating Josh Friedel in the final round. Nakamura's undefeated 7/9 secured the first prize of $40,000 ($35,000, plus a $5,000 outright winner's bonus).

The 2009 U.S. Chess Championship took place May 7-17 at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis. It was a 9-round Swiss with 24 participants (well, 25, after Anna Zatonskih had to withdraw and was replaced by Doug Eckert) with one round per day. The prize fund was $130,000.

Rounds 8-9

After eight rounds two young players tied for the lead: former champion and second seed Hikaru Nakamura, 21, of White Plains, New York, who in 2004 became the youngest player since Bobby Fischer to win the national title, and rising star and high school football linebacker Robert Hess, 17, of New York. Nakamura was the first to take the lead in the penultimate round by beating Michael Brooks. Hess capitalized on an endgame error from defending champion Yury Shulman, to score a win when a draw seemed the more likely result. Three players were a half point behind the two leaders: Kamsky and Onischuk (who drew each other in round 8), Akobian and Friedel.

Yesterday Nakamura defeated Friedel in just 22 moves in a Two Knight's Defence where first Black's rook was chased, and then his queen got trapped. He was assured the title after Hess managed only a draw in his last round game with Akobian. If more than one player had finished with the same number of points at the top of the standings, a playoff would have decided on the title and prize money on Sunday evening.

Alexander Onischuk was faced with a slight dilemma when he faced his own pupil in the last round: the youngest player in the 24-player field, Ray Robson (14), who needed only a draw against his coach to score his first grandmaster norm! Apparently Onischuk wants Robson to become a tough grandmaster, instead of just a grandmaster, and he beat him after 67 moves from an almost equal ending in a Semi-Slav.


Nakamura: always keep your cool

Photos by Betsy Dynako, Official Event Photographer.

"I was very happy with my play throughout and relieved to have won the title again," said Nakamura moments after being confirmed champion. "This is a title that means so much to me and the U.S. chess community -- and I have to thank the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis for putting on such a memorable championship. Winning the second title feels better to me than the first." Nakamura was officially crowned the 2009 U.S. chess champion Sunday evening by championship sponsor Rex Sinquefield -- founder of the Chess Club and Scholastic Center -- during the closing ceremony.

Games rounds 8-9

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