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US Championship Dirt

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Most of the favorites won in the first round. (Last year six-time champ Walter Browne lost to 16-year-old Cindy Tsai in the first.) One of the top US juniors, IM Hikaru Nakamura, was not happy when defending women's champion Jen Shahade claimed a three-fold repetition draw in their game. He didn't believe it, he complained loudly ("tantrum" is the word my source used), he was wrong, draw. It wasn't even a complicated one. Plus, he was worse on the board...

Nakamura also endeared himself by asking about "players like Akobian" at the players meeting before the event, but this seems like a good question to ask if done politely. [An unimpeachable source has now let me know that this did NOT take place at the players meeting but was done in private and without rancor. Good to hear. 13-1-02] There has been some controversy about the recent immigrant's special invitation. Usually there is a waiting period, like the one fellow 2003 participant Goldin just finished. If you don't think strong foreign players will move to the USA because of a $250,000 annual prize fund then you don't know much about the economy of Eastern Europe and of chessplayers in general.

There was a 270-point upset when IM Greg "Samford and Son" Shahade blundered a pin tactic that probably isn't tough enough to make the next issue of White Belt. Julia Shiber, the lowest-rated player in the event, polished him off nicely after that. (Diagram, white to play and win.) Btw, if you go to the official site, don't freak out when you see the ratings. They are USCF, not FIDE, and are usually 40-100 points higher.

The players drew for colors by having the defending champions play "pin the tail on Seattle." They were blindfolded and then had to stick a pin in a US map, closest to Seattle won. Whatever. The Mayor bailed out on making the first move and a nine-year-old scholastic player was deputized by the Mayor's office to do it. Since when do Seattle mayors have "urgent city board meetings"? What, was a Starbucks four minutes late in opening? Did Bill Gates need his boots licked?

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on January 10, 2003 10:37 AM.

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