Shulman, Kamsky Battle For US Champs

Shulman, Kamsky Battle For US Champs

SonofPearl
SonofPearl
May 23, 2010, 10:50 PM |
20 | Chess Event Coverage

Gata_Kamsky2.jpgBy FM Mike Klein

SAINT LOUIS, May 23, 2010 – Twenty-four players came to the 2010 U.S. Championship with a dream. After nine rounds, all but two players have woken up. 

In the most dramatic and meaningful round so far, GM Yury Shulman upset defending champion GM Hikaru Nakamura on board one. On board two, GM Gata Kamsky dug out of a hole, and after his draw offer was refused, he delivered GM Alex Onischuk his first loss in nearly five years of U.S. Championship appearances. 

Nakamura played quickly in the opening and sacrificed a center pawn to gain pressure on the kingside. He won a few pawns and pinned all his hopes on advancing his passed h-pawn. But Shulman’s pieces arrived too quickly, and the pawn never seriously threatened Shulman’s position. 

“The first mistake was the opening choice,” Nakamura said. “I wasn’t 100 percent prepared.”

“In the opening I had to recall,” Shulman said. “I was having a hard time. Once I played h6 I realized I was back in my preparation. … [The move] h6 was quite a problem for Hikaru to solve.”

In the post-mortem, the players agreed that after 20…Rc8 21. Qd3 Qh7 22. Qh6 was an improvement, when White has a better chance of holding the balance. “It’s probably just a draw,” Nakamura said. “That was the best I have.”

Instead, after the queens remained and Nakamura played 22. f4, his king was too open to last much longer. Shulman’s rook got to the second rank, his queen to the king’s diagonal, and his knight was poised to jump to f5 and g3. “I forgot about these stupid ideas,” Nakamura said. 

Shulman said that after his rook got to c2, he found the idea of sacrificing Rxg5 and the only thing that remained was getting the move order right.

The results in round 9:

White  Score  Rating  Result Black  Score  Rating 
GM Nakamura, Hikaru  5.5 2733 0-1 GM Shulman, Yuri  5.5 2613
GM Kamsky, Gata  5.5 2702 1-0 GM Onischuk, Alexander  5.5 2699
GM Shabalov, Alexander  5 2585 1-0 GM Stripunsky, Alexander  5.5 2570
GM Hess, Robert L  4.5 2590 ½-½ GM Yermolinsky, Alex  4.5 2528
GM Christiansen, Larry  4.5 2578 ½-½ GM Finegold, Benjamin  4.5 2539
GM Robson, Ray  4 2569 0-1 GM Akobian, Varuzhan  4 2599
IM Krush, Irina  4 2455 ½-½ GM Kraai, Jesse  4 2492
GM Kaidanov, Gregory  3.5 2577 1-0 GM Ehlvest, Jaan  4 2591
GM Benjamin, Joel  3.5 2565 1-0 GM Kudrin, Sergey  2.5 2571
GM Lenderman, Alex  3 2598 ½-½ GM Bhat, Vinay S  3 2547
GM Khachiyan, Melikset  3 2539 ½-½ IM Shankland, Samuel  2 2507
IM Altounian, Levon  2.5 2454 1-0 GM Gurevich, Dmitry  2.5 2488


The game only lasted 26 moves and ended well before board two, meaning Kamsky and Onishcuk knew the result while their game was still in progress. This may help explain why Onischuk turned down Kamsky’s draw offer after 41. Ne4, the first move after time control. If Onischuk had accepted, he would no longer control his own fate since he already played Shulman in the first game of the quad finals.

Kamsky claimed he was worse out of the opening but praised his defensive idea of Rd4 and f4. He said he still preferred Onischuk’s position after the offer was refused. But after the game became a rook-and-pawn endgame, Onischuk may have had better chances with 43…b4. He then ran low on time and slipped with 45…Kd5. “He played Kd5 really quickly, and I was really surprised,” Kamsky said. 

Onischuk’s string of unbeaten games at the U.S. Championship ends at 49, second-best all-time to Samuel Reshevsky’s record of 82 straight games.

The final standings, with just the final quad matches remaining:

Rank  Name  Score  Rating  TPR  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
1 GM Kamsky, Gata  6.5 2702 2803 1 1 ½  ½  1 ½  ½  ½  1
2 GM Shulman, Yuri  6.5 2613 2789 ½  ½  1 1 ½  1 ½  ½  1
3 GM Nakamura, Hikaru  5.5 2733 2698 1 1 ½  ½  ½  1 ½  ½  0
4 GM Onischuk, Alexander  5.5 2699 2711 1 ½  1 ½  1 ½  ½  ½  0
5 GM Shabalov, Alexander  6.0 2585 2688 ½  1 0 0 1 1 ½  1 1
6 GM Stripunsky, Alexander  5.5 2570 2642 0 1 1 1 ½  0 1 1 0
7 GM Akobian, Varuzhan  5.0 2599 2617 ½  1 1 ½  0 ½  0 ½  1
8 GM Hess, Robert L  5.0 2590 2595 1 0 1 0 0 1 1 ½  ½
9 GM Christiansen, Larry  5.0 2578 2639 1 ½  ½  1 0 1 ½  0 ½
10 GM Finegold, Benjamin  5.0 2539 2607 ½  0 ½  ½  1 1 ½  ½  ½
11 GM Yermolinsky, Alex  5.0 2528 2612 0 1 ½  1 ½  ½  ½  ½  ½
12 GM Kaidanov, Gregory  4.5 2577 2551 0 ½  ½  ½  1 0 ½  ½  1
13 GM Benjamin, Joel  4.5 2565 2553 0 ½  1 0 1 0 0 1 1
14 GM Kraai, Jesse  4.5 2492 2575 ½  0 1 1 1 0 0 ½  ½
15 IM Krush, Irina  4.5 2455 2575 1 ½  0 ½  1 0 1 0 ½
16 GM Ehlvest, Jaan  4.0 2591 2503 1 ½  ½  0 0 ½  1 ½  0
17 GM Robson, Ray  4.0 2569 2511 0 0 1 ½  ½  ½  ½  1 0
18 GM Lenderman, Alex  3.5 2598 2447 0 ½  ½  ½  0 1 0 ½  ½
19 GM Bhat, Vinay S  3.5 2547 2463 ½  0 0 ½  ½  1 0 ½  ½
20 GM Khachiyan, Melikset  3.5 2539 2496 1 0 0 ½  0 ½  1 0 ½
21 IM Altounian, Levon  3.5 2454 2474 ½  ½  0 ½  0 0 1 0 1
22 GM Kudrin, Sergey  2.5 2571 2385 ½  1 0 0 0 0 ½  ½  0
23 IM Shankland, Samuel  2.5 2507 2381 0 ½  0 ½  ½  0 0 ½  ½
24 GM Gurevich, Dmitry  2.5 2488 2382 0 0 0 ½  ½  ½  ½  ½  0


Shulman said going into the round that the winner of the three-round quad would need some luck to win the tournament. His knowledge of the opening came from helping prepare Kamsky for his match against GM Veselin Topalov last year. Now, he takes White against Kamsky for the title. If tomorrow’s game does not produce a winner, the two will play again in a rapid tiebreaker on Tuesday morning. Besides the $35,000 first place, the winner also gets an automatic spot on the 2010 Olympiad Team.

Nakamura and Onischuk are mathematically eliminated from winning the tournament. The U.S. Championship will again not have a repeat champion. The last person to successfully defend his title was GM Lev Alburt in the 1980s.

The final pairings:

White  Score  Rating  Black  Score  Rating 
GM Shulman, Yuri  6.5 2613 GM Kamsky, Gata  6.5 2702
GM Onischuk, Alexander  5.5 2699 GM Nakamura, Hikaru  5.5 2733


In the final round of the Challenger’s Swiss, GM Alex Shabalov beat GM Alex Stripunsky in only 25 moves. He takes home the top prize of the Swiss, which is actually fifth-place money - $10,000.

IM Irina Krush tried but failed to earn a grandmaster norm. Needing a win today, she could only muster a draw against GM Jesse Kraai. She finishes with 4.5, an even score, and a performance rating above 2580.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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