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2009 US Ch: Round 3, Nakamura's Revenge

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Official site working and live broadcast started on time and functioning. Woo-hoo! Also on the ICC with audio commentary live from St. Louis with Jen Shahade and Emil Sutovsky. It's open to all, not just ICC members. You can check it out here or from the live page.

Obviously the big matchup today is Shulman-Kamsky, defending champ vs top seed. Nakamura-Hess is the other headliner.

Add: From official site round 3 page: "Unfortunately, IM Anna Zatonskih has been taken ill. Her game against GM Gregory Kaidanov has been postponed until further notice." Bummer. What's the rule on this sort of thing? Opponent's goodwill? There's only one rest day and it's after seven rounds. If a favorite is getting paired as if he/she has less points, that would skew things, right? Meanwhile, full-bodied fights on the top boards. More later. Now go call your mother!

Add: Anna Zatonskih has gall stones, is overnight in the hospital in St. Louis, will probably have surgery tomorrow [actually going to Germany?! according to Polgar], and will obviously drop out of the tournament. The score will be forfeit win for Kaidanov in today's not-played game. There has been a backup replacement on hold and he will join the remaining 23 players for the rest of the event. Doug Eckert from IL. Polgar's site has a little info on him.

Add: The rather undramatic drama around the $64,000 Fischer jackpot prize for a clean score ended today as all three players with 2/2 were besmirched. Kamsky and Shulman played a 30 move draw as Kamsky's Grunfeld again held up well. Hess, the other 2/2, got squeezed like a lemon by Nakamura, who joined the aforementioned and Friedel in the lead on 2.5/3. Friedel beat Benjamin with black. Hess suddenly looked outclassed today, although as I mentioned yesterday he won a nice game with black against his 2700 opponent just a month ago at Foxwoods. Either his novelty 13..Qc7 was a bad blunder or he really misevaluated the resulting position. The extra doubled pawn turns out to be a nice outpost and Black's king is in traffic for the entire game. Very well prosecuted by Nakamura.

14-year-old Robson went for a pawn-down opposite-colored bishop endgame against Akobian but his technique wasn't up to holding it. Shankland somewhat surprisingly decided his bishop pair wasn't worth anything in an endgame against Khachiyan and he took the draw as soon as they hit the 30-move minimum. Krush-Gulko was an early fatality of a glitch in the online viewer, though after the serious problems on the first two days it seems a little abusive to complain about one game not working. Unfortunately, Krush's many fans missed watching her hand the once-mighty Gulko his third bagel in a row. 37.f5! is a star move, good stuff. Brooklyn! Shabalov avoided Gulko's fate by giving Lawton his third loss.

The four leaders meet in tomorrow's fourth round with Kamsky-Friedel and Shulman-Nakamura. Eckert parachutes in to replace Zatonskih and gets Gulko. I'm curious about the whole replacement thing. You don't want someone having a bye every round, I suppose. The official site is also starting to get its content together, if not much in the way of analysis. Don't miss the cool time-lapse vid of Kamsky-Akobian. Love it!

Sevillano was again involved in the longest game of the day, but this time was unable to bamboozle his opponent, Brooks. Sevillano took some commentariat flak for playing on against Lawton in round two in what some players on site described as a trivially drawn position. That might have been it, since they're on a five-second increment, when arbiter Carol Jarecki told Lawton he had to keep his scoresheet up to date. According to a few (anonymous so far) observers, he took most of his remaining time to try to do this and was then told it still wasn't complete/legible. At this point he let his remaining time expire, apparently in protest. It's the arbiter's job to enforce the rules, so let's not chase the "interference" red herring. The main issue seems to be whether or not Lawton should have been exempted from keeping score once his clock got down below five minutes. That's the rule, but what if you have more than five when the arbiter charges you and it goes under five while you're updating your sheet? I don't know if that exact case is covered in the rules, but it seems pretty natural that you have to have a correct scoresheet before continuing. Otherwise, if it were close you could just wait until you got under five and ignore the arbiter.

Scoresheets in top events should be obsolete by now thanks to digital recording technologies, but as we saw in this same event in the first two rounds, those technologies can be as reliable as a sub-prime borrower. Personal scoresheets are also for the players' protection and they both need to be up-to-date to avoid, or to help resolve, disputes. On a related matter, what's up with the 5" increment? That's for rapid, at best. I don't like increments until the final control anyway, at which point I do like them, but five seconds isn't really enough to avoid what increments are supposed to help avoid, mindless blitzing. I don't fault Sevillano for playing on, that's what he's there to do. But a 5" increment isn't mercy, it's torture (or "enhanced interrogation technique" if you prefer). I.e., with a 30" or even a 15" increment in that position you give up trying to win pretty quickly. But with 5" you have an incentive to play on forever since a blunder or time forfeit could easily occur. That said, both players apparently missed a strong move right before the bizarre conclusion. Assuming the score is correct, 88.Rc7 picks up the last black pawn. Probably still drawn, but no longer trivial. Ironically, Black could have won instantly five hours earlier with 20..Nxd4!

Ah, this appeared this evening in the round two release on the official site by the ICC's John Henderson:

"In a footnote to yesterday's round two, local player Charles Lawton discovered the hard way the difference between the standard of play at the U.S. Championship and local tournaments he's more used to ruling the roost in. In a time scramble when he was down to his last 5 minutes, he opted to save valuable seconds by stopping to score his game, only to flagged for an infringement of the rules by chief arbiter Carol Jarecki as she warned him he had to continue to keep a score of the game.

But Lawton lost on time in the ensuing dispute with the arbiter as he tried to keep his score up to date as he fell foul of International FIDE rules (which govern all national championships) and local USCF rules. With FIDE (the French acronym of the governing body of world chess), if you have 5 minutes or less on your clock you still have to keep a score of the game, with USCF rules you do not have to do so."

I believe FIDE also exempts you from keeping score when under five minutes if the increment is less than 30 seconds. (Rule 8.4) But as I said above, if he had more than five minutes when Jarecki intervened, he has only himself to blame. There should be a statement from the arbiter and, if they want, both players, when a dispute like this happens. On the other hand, if nobody files a formal protest it's not up to the organizers or arbiters to martyr themselves for kicks. It would just be nice to have all the information out there from official sites, which too often feel they should sweep disputes under the rug.


Great tournament, too bad the live coverage has had issues. But to turn to MR? Yuck.

It's really Nakamura - Hess, because Hess has Black, and Nakamura looks somewhat better going into the ending. Also, Shulman - Kamsky is a very likely draw. So, no more perfect scores, and nobody will get the $64,000 bonus.

Hmmmm. Is Kamsky about to win a pawn?

23. --- Rxc3

24. Rxc3
then Qxc1+

24. Bxc3
then Qxe2

24. Rb2
then Qc4

Or am I missing something.
Where is Fritz when you need him.

Forget it.

23. ---- Rxc3
24. Rb2 Qc4
25. Bxc3

and the white queen isn't hanging.

25. ---- Qxc3

and black has given up a rook for only a bishop and pawn, though white's e5 pawn might fall also.

I just contacted the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis (the host of the championship) and it appears as if the initial tech problems have been resolved.

The first series was due to PGN files, so the Club flew in a contact from Monroi to ensure that everything would be resolved.

The other errors were due to the site's hosting service, which have also been resolved.

For some reason, Kamsky spent about an hour on 23...Rf8. He seems to do this a lot. He did it against Topalov. He goes into some sort of brain lock where he just spins around and around in his mind.

Nakamura is playing like Karpov against Hess. Very careful squeeze going on. I'm betting on Nakamura.

Strange, Naka spent 37 minutes on 14 Nxc5.

Having a game viewer be chess agnostic is much more efficient, but it can lead to problems. They skipped Black's 14th move in Krush-Gulko, so it can't replay the game after that point.

I wondered about that because the playchess site has the game up to the 47th move, with Krush ready to win in the ending.

Another annoyance with the MonRoi display: It is very confusing about showing the clock times. Most of the time, only one clock is shown, and it is not moving.

Talking about the Monroi display, I also find annoying that some times the move list is showed when I didn't wanted to see it. Then, sometimes I can't see the first row because I can't figure out how to avoid viewing that list.

But well, finally being able to see the games is better than nothing :)

I can't figure the move list out either.

So, Nakamura beat Hess, but I think Hess missed a draw by not playing 43...Nxc5. I don't see a win for Nakamura after 44.Rd6+ Kf7 45.Rxc6 Ne4+ 46.Kf3 Nd2+

At the bottom of the monroi chess board there are a row of symbols. The first four are icons, (pgn, embed, scoresheet, vote). Then there is a box that displays the "last move". Then there is a row of arrows (forwards, backwards, start, end, etc).

If you hover your mouse over the box that holds the last move played, the entire list of moves played appears and blocks out the a file.

To make it go away hover your mouse over the "last move" box a second time.

You are welcome.

It looks like Anna Zatonskih has withdrawn from the event. She is replaced by Doug Everett. Gregory Kaidanov has got a one point for his forfeit win over Anna.

Anna Zatonskih has gall stones, is overnight in the hospital in St. Louis, will probably have surgery tomorrow, and will obviously drop out of the tournament. The score will be forfeit win for Kaidanov in today's not-played game. There has been a backup replacement on hold and he will join the remaining 23 players for the rest of the event. Doug Eckert from IL. Polgar's site has a little info on him:


I would prefer to see IMs & GMs only in the US Open. In my opinion GMS such as Kudrin, Goldin, Stripunsky, De Firmian, Dzindzichashvili, Perelshteyn, and Yermolinsky would be more competitive and make for a better tournament.

If Open, must be open?

And if US (closed) Championship, must allow ANY US chess player a chance to qualify?

It's not open to anyone. It's by invitation.

John -

If you, or anyone, had a US rating that was high enough, you could play. You could also play if you won a qualifying event (like Sevillano did).

It is up to you to get your rating high enough or to win a qualifying event. The players you mentioned evidently did not do that, even though they had an equal chance to do so like everyone else.

It was not clear up to the end what has be a qualifying event, Ok, the US Open, the US Junior Closed and in very end the online tournament of States Champions, and that's all.
By the way everyone who could be the United States Chess Champion this year (like all entire US Olympic Team) are here.
How many qualifying spots for World Cup are there? Five? Six? What about Kamsky (2007 World Cup Winner) and Ehlvest (2008 Pan-American Champion) spots? There are already qualified, and probably Nakamura with 2700+ FIDE Rating could make it by rating.

If I understand the "update your score" issue -- the player (Lawton) stopped keeping score with more than 5 minutes on his clock.

He was told to update his score (correct)?

In his attempt to do so, his clock went under 5 minutes.

FIDE requires scorekeeping with 30 second increment -- not 5 second. The 5 second increment is essentially a USCF convention to avoid sudden death time scrambles. It is designed to allow the player to MOVE, not MOVE and KEEP SCORE.

Once under 5 minutes, I don't see how he could be compelled to continue to update his scoresheet.

Indeed, in USCF club events, this is a common situation -- TD says "you have 6 minutes left, you must keep score" so the player then thinks for a minute, goes under the 5 min threshold and now stops keeping score again.

Unless they used 30 second increment (which is designed precisely to allow scorekeeping), I don't see why the arbiter would force the player to do so (once he got under 5 min). Was this seen as some type of insubordination thing (i.e. "I told you to update your score, that's not good enough") or something?

The 5 second increment is not designed to allow scorekeeping -- anyone would flag if that were the case.

What am I missing here? And his opponent is a jolly poor sport for letting this all play out this way -- if that's what caused him to lose.

I think the key is the difference between keeping score (ongoing) and having a correct scoresheet before continuing to play. Two separate things here. He stopped keeping score with more than five minutes. He was told at eight minutes that he had to keep score. This first intervention going unheeded, a minute later (clock at 6:53) he was told to stop moving and correct his scoresheet before moving again.

Waiting until you have less than five minutes is not a solution to already having an incomplete scoresheet you've been told to correct. You have to have a correct scoresheet before moving. It was bad timing for Lawton, who was unable to correct it, apparently, but the bottom line is he should have kept score until he got under five minutes. He didn't and was in violation of the rules. Unless you're under five minutes, you're not allowed to make a single move without recording your last one. That's why he was told to stop moving. Moving is illegal unless your previous move is on a correct scoresheet.

Pretty much what Carol says here, with more details:


Yes, but the way I see it, if they are using some mix of USCF and FIDE rules (which is totally OK as USCF rules are a FIDE variant)...then with 5 second delay I don't see a scenario where he is forced to update his score ONCE he got under 5 minutes.

He definitely has to burn the time to 4:59, but then, even the FIDE rule link you posted is clear that without 30-second increment, he doesn't have to update the score until the game is done. That language is pretty clear in the link you provided.

That's why this must be some situation where the arbiter thinks the player is disobeying a direct request or something.

The 5-second increment isn't made for scorekeeping. You can't really keep score with 5 second delay. Only 30-second increment carries a scorekeeping requirement.

I hate to say this, but IMHO the arbiter made a wrong call here...acting as if the onus on the player is the same under 5-second as it is for 30-second...as it led to an unnecessary forfeit.

USCF rules -- clearly don't require scorekeeping under 5 min
FIDE rules -- seem to only require it under 5 min with 30-second delay

Did his opponent have more time and a complete score? Or did he stop taking at under 5? If the latter, then it seems especially wrong to force one side to have a letter-perfect score while the other does not.

How could Lawton not correct it -- he could just ask for his opponent's scoresheet and copy it. Ah, but if it didn't exist, see my previous point.

I stand by my claim that it was poor sportsmanship on the opponent to let a bad ruling affect the game result.

No way this happens in a club event.

OK, it seems clear from Carol's post that this was a case of a player behaving poorly at the board.

Basically, he disobeyed direct commands, he was given a complete scoresheet and told to complete it, but kept making moves and ignoring instructions. Had he complied, it might have taken 2-3 minutes and he would have been fine. Instead, it sounds like he made quite a fuss.

On that basis, it sounds like the arbiter's actions were fine.

Yes, based on Jarecki's account at least (provided in the link to the official site, above), it sounds like LAWTON was the one seeking to gain unfair advantage on the clock via scoresheet shenanigans - not Sevillano. It even says that at a key point when Lawton kept refusing to keep score or bring his score up to date, he actually had more time than his opponent.

Of course, there might be another side to the story that's yet to come out.

The whole thing reminds me of an "incident" between two players rated ~1600 in my own amateur team competition. One of them (my teammate) asked four or five times "Do I still have to keep score?" when he had between ten and six minutes left on the clock - odd that such things also happen at a (much) higher level ... .

While the organizers may be blamed for being late in presenting their own (the arbiter's) version, I also find it odd that several posters had immediately blamed Jarecki and/or Sevillano. Several questions, my answer is "no" to all of them:
Can Jarecki be blamed for being principled (making sure her direct orders are obeyed)?
Can Sevillano be blamed for winning the game in such a way? Would he have the moral duty, or even the formal right, to "overrule the arbiter"? [Of course he could have offered a draw instead, but did he 'have to' do so to avoid a scandal?].

Jon Jacobs still seems to have lingering doubts:
"Of course, there might be another side to the story that's yet to come out."
Maybe yes, maybe no ... .

No... Sevillano is not to blame here. However, many would agree that he normally would accept a draw in this position with a higher-rated player. However, a 2350 will not lose that position. Be that as it may, he is not even a factor here.

I'll give some thoughts I posted elsewhere...

In the ruling, there is no FIDE rule that identifies a penalty for an incorrect scoresheet. In the player's meeting, these types of rules would have been covered. Was this rule covered in the players' meeting? I can think of several questions here.

Do you stop the clocks to correct the score? Do you allow the clock to continue ticking? Do you take half his time? Do you immediately disqualify him? Does Lawton forfeit his right to make a future forfeit claim? FIDE is not clear on this. It merely says you are required to record the score. What happens if you don't... or can't?

Did Jarecki give Lawton the ultimatum on the rule? For example, if an arbiter says "If you fail to keep score, then the penalty is..." In this case, the intention is clear. If you merely state, "you must keep score," it may not be clear. Jarecki's interpretation seems to be... if you don't have a complete scoresheet you would not be allowed to continue playing.

In any regard, he was attempting to catch up when he fell under the five-minute mark and he probably felt a bit of panic. There is no evidence that Lawton had any health concerns after the long game, but there is another part of Article 8 that may have been examined.

"If a player is unable to keep score, an assistant, who is acceptable to the arbiter, may be provided by the player to write the moves. His clock shall be adjusted by the arbiter in an equitable way.”

Here there is leeway, but it seemed as if there was a back-and-forth clash going on. Could Lawton have acted differently? Of course. Could Jarecki have acted differently? Of course. After having played a hard-fought 89 moves over seven hours, this was a disastrous result. This result may have affected both Lawton and Sevillano.

Lawton does not look good here.

From Jarecki's statement:

"The opponent’s scoresheet had been provided to help with the process. The arbiter even offered to read off the moves to him (other games in the room had finished)."

Does Lawton or anyone dispute that? Because if that's what happened, then it is difficult to think of any reasonable way to support Lawton's refusal to bring his scoresheet up to date. What else could be done if he refused to cooperate? Complete his scoresheet for him while he continues to argue?

Only Lawton knows why he acted the way he did.

Calls and e-mail into Lawton have gone unanswered. I would imagine that he doesn't want to discuss at this time and focus on the last five rounds.

Lawton should have completed his scoresheet. Why didn't he?

I think the arbiter's interpretation is a bit harsh, but if the player was uncooperative, her reaction is understandable.

Rule 8.4 does explicitly exclude all requirements of 8.1, i.e. keeping score:

"If a player has less than five minutes left on his clock at some stage in a period and does not have additional time of 30 seconds or more added with each move, then he is not obliged to meet the requirements of Article 8.1."

He has to complete his scoresheet only after his flag falls. (says Article 8.5)

Suggestion: A two minute time penalty would have been an adequate and pointed punishment. But it was a difficult decision, and I think the arbiter was well within her interpretational margin.

I was roaming around on the web and found thechessdrum.net

It’s a pretty nice site that focuses on African players and their descendents who live throughout the world, but it also contains a lot of articles about non-Africans. It has discussions about the Lawton scorekeeping controversy.

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    About this Entry

    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on May 10, 2009 3:00 PM.

    2009 US Ch: Round 2 was the previous entry in this blog.

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