Robson Reduced To 1 Second, Wins To Tie Nakamura

Robson Reduced To 1 Second, Wins To Tie Nakamura

MikeKlein
FM MikeKlein
Apr 8, 2015, 12:00 AM |
15 | Chess Event Coverage

If chess can sometimes be poetry, today was a Greek epic.

Although far from being perfect chess, nine of 12 games produced winners, with GM Ray Robson's back-and-forth battle culminating an eventful day at the 2015 U.S. Championships.

Robson, no stranger to complex positions, missed easier wins while allowing his clock to tick to one second against GM Daniel Naroditsky. Robson's nerves held as he somehow eluded the constant checks to force the resignation of a despondent opponent.

Naroditsky's pain was palpable.

GM Naroditsky comes to terms with his counterplay ending. He resigned shortly after.

The final 30 moves were played with Robson below one minute almost the entire time. The win tied him with GM Hikaru Nakamura at the top of the tables; the top seed gave another half-point back to the field by drawing the upstart GM Sam Sevian.

How close was Robson to flagging? The time trouble warrior said on move 56 that he saw his clock at three seconds and slid his queen, only to change her destination while the move was in progress.

She landed on e4 and he hit the clock with a solitary second remaining. The players received a 30-second increment after each move, thus allowing the tension to last another half-hour.

Analysis by GM Ben Finegold:



It didn't have to be this hard. Namely, 53...f3? was too clever. Simply retreating the queen was simpler. Naroditsky then returned the favor, although it was far from obvious. Instead of 57. Qh8+, the check on f8 ensured the draw. Robson guessed Naroditsky missed the geometric defense 60...Qf7!

Even without this White would win, but it wasn't until Black's king reached f7 on move 67 that Naroditsky realized his prey would go free. Naroditsky smacked his head and retreated the queen, effectively ending the problems for Black.

Robson told Chess.com earlier in the tournament that he "you'd think I'd win one of these."

"There were so many times where I got out of the checks, then he started them again," Robson said.

Naroditsky stayed at the board several minutes after the 5.5-hour game ended, his head resting on the table.

Naroditsky realizes the game was a tragedy, not a comedy.

Robson has jumped 29 spots in the live ratings in the last month. He's up to 65th, jumping past fellow Americans Shankland, Onischuk and within range of Kamsky. U.S. team captain IM John Donaldson joked that he has to click "top 100" to see Robson's name on 2700chess.com, but soon he'll clear 2700 and Donaldson's searches will require one fewer clicks.

Robson caught all the way up to Nakamura, who left another half-point behind by drawing the fearless Sevian. Their game was the only draw of the day amongst the men.

The world's youngest GM has scored a win and two draws against the the top three ranked players. 

GM Hikaru Nakamura got a more fluid position than yesterday but couldn't make it decisive.

Unlike yesterday, Nakamura held a noticeable plus, but neither player strayed exceptionally far from equality.

GM Sam Sevian went 2.0/3 this year against the three best players.

GM Wesley So and GM Alex Onischuk battled head-to-head for third place, with So coming out unscathed. The rare defeat for Onischuk (who once went more than 50 U.S. Championship games without a loss) came after a straightforward attack on f7. The saving variation began with 28...h6 29. f5 Bh5!, but was quite opaque. He also had to see much further: 30. Bxc2 Bxg4 31. Nf3 Re2+ 32. Kg3 Bxf3 33. Bd3! Re4! and Onischuk survives.

Analysis by GM Ben Finegold:



So is back in the discussion for the title, even though Robson claimed his win yesterday ruined his friend's chances of winning. "We're not friends at the board!" So joked today.

For more on his thoughts on his first U.S. Championship, here's an exclusive video interview with So.

Also staying in the hunt is a trio of players on 4.0/7: Sevian, and two others who won today -- GM Gata Kamsky and GM Kayden Troff. They beat GMs Conrad Holt and Varuzhan Akobian, respectively.

Shankland came through with his first win today. It came against GM Timur Gareev. Shankland faced 1. d4 Nf6 2. g4?! against Gareev a few weeks ago in Hawaii, and didn't waste time preparing for similar shenanigans this round (today, a Schliemann Defense, about as mainstream as Gareev has been in St. Louis).

GM Sam Shankland, the face of concentration even before the first move.

In the U.S. Women's Championship, all went according to form at the top of the standings, sort of. WGM Katerina Nemcova and GM Irina Krush both won, but the six-time champion was chagrinned when informed of missing an elementary tactic.

"If I would have been looking at that check, it would have spoiled that nice positional squeeze," was Krush's silver lining. "You often don't take the gift you're unprepared for."

What did she miss? Scotch Gambit players will spot it earlier than most -- 12. Qh5+ and the bishop on c5 is loose (the defense 12...Qg6 fails to 13. Qxc5 Qxg2 14. Bg5 and Black's dark squares prevent her from grabbing material).

"This particular miss doesn't bother me too much," Krush said when told about the move. She said the brevity of the game was still short enough to save some energy.

Krush had more to say about the missed win in round six. "That game was pretty devastating...chess is very good at developing a person's character. Yesterday was very bitter medicine. I am interested in becoming a stronger person. I see it as a test for me."

GM Irina Krush will need to come from behind like last year.

She said that after some reflection the situation went from a "major catastrophe" to "minor setback."

To hear more thoughts on her tournament situation, here's an exclusive video interview.

Nemcova's struggle lasted much longer. Her game eclipsed five hours and lasted nearly as long as Robson's.

WGM Katerina Nemcova dons a jacket as the room temperature was noticeably colder today. 

Instead of a queen maze, her efforts were focused on a breakthrough. After a correct exchange sac, Black's remaining pieces could barely move. The fatal mistake came with 59...b5, after which Nemcova sealed off Black's king and rook, rendering them helpless.

The only other player with a reasonable chance for the crown is newcomer IM Nazi Paikidze. Like Nemcova, she doesn't have any losses on her card, and won again today to stay 1.5 points back. The two have yet to play; neither have Krush and Nemcova.

29. Bd5! wasn't winning, but it did signal the beginnings of an attack. As usual, the initiative is vital in opposite-colored bishop middlegames.

To close out the report, the fantastic resurgence of IM Rusa Goletiani ended today. In a terribly complex game, both players missed several wins before Goletiani made an unrecoverable error right on the time control.

GM Gregory Kaidanov often tells students never to make a committal decision on the time control, but Goletiani was of course not able to access a lifeline. Move 40 strikes again!

Analysis by GM Ben Finegold:



 

Instead, 40. Rxf7 was crushing (but committal!). Following Kaidanov's advice, any reasonable bishop move should still win (Goletiani unfortunately blocked her bishop from getting back to g2 to defend).

 
(Left to right) Sharevich, Ni, Abrahamyan and Goletiani joke about having a "dress day" (Ni didn't get the "memo" today!).

The scheduling will make for an exciting finish in both tournaments. In case you're planning your weekend, Robson gets White against Nakamura on Saturday (Round 10) and Krush gets White against Nemcova on Sunday (Round 11).

All games take place at 1 p.m. Central (GMT -6), including tomorrow's round eight. You can catch all the live commentary at www.Chess.com/tv.

2015 U.S. Championship | Pairings For Round 8

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

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2015 U.S. Women's Championship | Pairings For Round 8

Table White Score Rating Black Score Rating
1 WCM Virkud, Apurva 2.5 2132 WGM Sharevich, Anna 3.5 2267
2 WIM Wang, Annie 1.5 1901 IM Goletiani, Rusudan 4 2311
3 FM Melekhina, Alisa 2 2235 GM Krush, Irina 5 2477
4 WGM Abrahamyan, Tatev 4 2322 IM Paikidze, Nazi 4.5 2333
5 WFM Yu, Jennifer R 2 2180 WIM Ni, Viktorija 3.5 2188
6 WGM Nemcova, Katerina 6 2279 WGM Foisor, Sabina-Francesca 3.5 2235

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2015 U.S. Championship | Standings After Round 7

Rank Name Score Rating TPR
1 GM Nakamura, Hikaru 5 2798 2793
2 GM Robson, Ray 5 2656 2794
3 GM So, Wesley 4.5 2788 2752
4 GM Kamsky, Gata 4 2683 2685
5 GM Troff, Kayden W 4 2532 2664
6 GM Sevian, Samuel 4 2531 2724
7 GM Onischuk, Alexander 3.5 2665 2631
8 GM Shankland, Samuel L 3.5 2661 2653
9 GM Akobian, Varuzhan 2.5 2622 2515
10 GM Holt, Conrad 2.5 2530 2549
11 GM Gareev, Timur 2 2604 2497
12 GM Naroditsky, Daniel 1.5 2633 2423

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2015 U.S. Women's Championship | Standings After Round 7

Rank Name Score Rating TPR
1 WGM Nemcova, Katerina 6 2279 2502
2 GM Krush, Irina 5 2477 2378
3 IM Paikidze, Nazi 4.5 2333 2322
4 WGM Abrahamyan, Tatev 4 2322 2217
5 IM Goletiani, Rusudan 4 2311 2323
6 WGM Sharevich, Anna 3.5 2267 2286
7 WGM Foisor, Sabina-Francesca 3.5 2235 2242
8 WIM Ni, Viktorija 3.5 2188 2264
9 WCM Virkud, Apurva 2.5 2132 2203
10 FM Melekhina, Alisa 2 2235 2080
11 WFM Yu, Jennifer R 2 2180 2038
12 WIM Wang, Annie 1.5 1901 2025

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