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America, America

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The biggest current chess event you probably don't know anything about is the American Continental Championship going on in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Most of the top players from Canada all the way down to Chile are fighting for slots in the next FIDE world championship (whenever that is) and $72,000 in prizes.

US champion Alexander Shabalov is there, as is recent emigre Alexander Onischuk, the top seed. But after six rounds it's another Russian-speaking American Alex, Goldin, who is in the lead. He's tied on 5.5 with Cuban Lenier Dominguez. American teen sensation Hikaru Nakamura is showing his stuff too and he moved up to clear third by beating leader Granda Zuniga with the black pieces in the sixth round.

Then there is a massive pack at 4.5 that includes Shabalov, Onischuk, and Gulko. There are four rounds to play. Check out the round six games here. Official site in Spanish here. Some players apparently didn't make it. De Firmian, Lesiege, and Ashley are all listed as "loss by default" for each round. Strange. Irina Krush is currently the top-scoring woman with 4.

If Nakamura continues his rapid rise he will enter the top 100 next year. If so he would be the first American-raised player to do so since, ummm, since, well... who? Maybe Patrick Wolff in 94? To further illustrate the dearth of talent and opportunity for young US players in recent decades. (Richard Ehrman writes in to point out that Maurice Ashley got his GM title just a few years ago. But he had only needed time to work on his game and at 37 can't be called an up-and-comer anymore, I'm afraid!)

There is only one other American player under 20 years old rated over 2500, Akobian. Going down to 2400 adds just two more names, Krush and Pixton. Dropping to 2300 adds four more. Ouch. After Nakamura America may be waiting for Fabiano Caruana (see DD120), rated 2160 at 11 years old.

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on August 25, 2003 3:25 AM.

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