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2009 US Ch Round 7: Elo Rising

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The home stretch has begun in St. Louis. After two days of draws on the top boards, will someone break from the pack? Akobian and Shulman lead with 4.5/6. Six players are a half-point behind. Top pairings are Shulman-Onischuk, Nakamura-Akobian, Benjamin-Kamsky, and Friedel-Hess. Live here, main page. The pairings Shulman-Onischuk and Benjamin-Kamsky both represent past final matches for the US title, in 2006 and 1991! Updates later.

Add:After several days of draws, the pent-up blood flowed today, spilling out across the entire playing hall. An incredible 11/12 games were decisive, with only former champs Gulko and Shabalov ruining perfection. We all love a good upset, but sometimes you just have to stand back and admire the inevitability of Elo. The favorites won on all three top boards to shake up the standings. Nakamura beat Akobian, Kamsky beat Benjamin, and Onischuk beat Shulman. With two rounds to play, Nakamura, Kamsky, and Onischuk are tied for the lead with 5/7. But wait! Not fitting into the Elo scheme is teenager Robert Hess, who beat Friedel today with black to join the illustrious leading cohort as well. * Friday is a free day. Saturday's 8th round begins an three hours earlier, at 12pm EDT. Sunday's final round begins at 11am EDT *

Akobian fell asleep at the wheel of his French Defense for just a moment and with Nakamura was all over him like Oprah Winfrey on a doughnut. Like Manny Ramirez on a syringe. Like the lipid shell of the H1N1 virus on the cytoplasm of a respiratory cell resulting in the production of proinflammatory cytokines. I'm telling you, it was just like that. Akobian got into time trouble trying to solve his problems and eventually gave up a pawn to try to break the white attack. Nakamura calmly switched phasers from "eradicate" to "hoover" and cleaned up all of Black's queenside pawns. Akobian didn't have time to resign and I'm not sure if he flagged or finally gave up the ghost after 40.Bc6. It looks like Akobian missed the strength of 15.f5! It doesn't look like Black can castle there. Easy for me to say now. Chess.FM commentator Sutovsky had that same position with white 12 years ago; I wonder if he talked about that during the round. He played 14.g4. Nakamura clearly wanted to keep the queens on.

Kamsky won a pawn against Benjamin and slowly ground down his old rival. Back in 1991, in a KO format Championship, the two met in a hotly contested final match. Benjamin had all the chances when it mattered but couldn't seal the deal and Kamsky came through with the win to take his one and only US title. Onischuk surprised -- me at least -- by playing the King's Indian against Shulman. The 2006 champ clearly felt he had to make a move if he was going to have a shot at his second title. The defending champion soaked up a lot of time only to end up in an inferior endgame. He lost a pawn and then couldn't hold a rook endgame that would require a lot more analysis than I have time for.

Hess played a musty old line of the Lopez and turned it into a nice positional plus against Friedel. It looked balanced for a while when Black's sneaky queen infiltration 30..Qa2, threatening ..Nd3+, hastened the collapse of White's position in time trouble. Sevillano scored another win for pinoy pride by beating Kaidanov. His exploits might be getting more coverage in the press in the Philippines than the entire Championship is getting in the US media. Brooks slowly outplayed Robson in an endgame and needs 1.5/2 to get a GM norm.

Another game of note down in the standings was Shankland-Hughes. With Vanessa Hudgens standing by to kiss the victor, you knew it was going to be hard-fought. Shankland apparently went for the win by sacrificing his h-pawn. After mutual inaccuracies it still should have finished drawn, but the endgame of three pawns vs rook was very tricky. White played it very well at first but blew the draw with 66.Re6+ when his rook was already in perfect position. 66.Kc3 and Black must give ground. 66..Kf2 67.Kd4 g2 68.Ke5 f3 69.Kf4! Ke2 70.Rg3=. After the Hall of Fame called and told Larry Christiansen they were going to hang his plaque in the broom closet he finally notched a win, against Eckert.

Friday is a rest day. Round eight sees the first real side effects of using the swiss sytem with such a small field. Many of the leaders have already met, so Nakamura at five points gets Brooks with four. But the other top boards are naturals and critical: Kamsky-Onischuk and Hess-Shulman. Akobian-Benjamin and Friedel-Ehvest have an outside chance of affecting the podium population.



Nakamura - Akobian is probably equal but very unbalanced, so the best attacker wins...Nakamura.

Shulman - Onischuk drawish, no life.

Benjamin - Kamsky is a slight edge for Benjamin, but he won't win.

Friedel - Hess is boring right now.

Robson - Brooks will get hot soon and Brooks could be in trouble.

Nakamura starting to roll over Akobian.

Shulman - Onischuk. Yawn.

Benjamin - Kamsky. Yawn.

Friedel - Hess. Friedel just blundered on his 19th move. He'll probably lose.

Robson - Brooks. No idea.

Becerra - Lawton. The nightmare continues. Easy win for Becerra coming up.

"Shulman - Onischuk. Yawn."

Huh?? Fifteen moves played, all pieces and all pawns (!) still on the board - quite some life still in the position (at least potentially) ... .

Perhaps life later after Shulman wakes up. He plays so slowly.

Shulman has 2:29 left for 15 moves, but the position looks simple. Still, why get so low on time? Bad things can happen, and usually do.

Nakamura crushes Akobian. Friedel blunders all over the place and Hess mops him up. Benjamin falling apart with every move. Robson putting the heat on, and Brooks is floundering.

Looks like Shankland got totally swindled by Hughes. Wow. (Or was Black winning all along? I doubt it.)

Looks like Robson's going to be lucky to swindle a draw, after being slightly better and up a pawn in the middle game...

Why do you guys think top players like Kamsky and Nakamura wanted to play this year? Also off topic but I've always wondered about his, when Kasparov lost the tile to Kramnik's Scotch home cooking, why didn't Garry simply try 1.d4?

Nope, he lost. And Benjamin is dead lost.

Re:Why do you guys think top players like Kamsky and Nakamura wanted to play this year?

I'm guessing the large prize fund (especially the significant first prize) and the good playing conditions (especially compared to the last U.S. Championship in Tulsa, no offense to the Berrys)

Thanks. It's weird seeing someone as great as Onischuk go from winning the super strong Moscow Open in January 2009 to playing in the US Open. Also, maybe I'll get lucky and someone will share their opinion about Kasparov's unwillingness to try 1.d4 when he couldn't break Kramnik's Scotch and Kramnik won the World Championship.

@John Osen. Money, basically, and what it represents in prestige. The prize fund is some three times what it was in the last two years. They both played before that, too, when the AF4C was putting up a similarly large prize fund.

It was the Berlin in the Lopez, not the Scotch in 2000. And Garry did switch away from 1.e4 a few times. But he took beating the Berlin as a challenge as well, which worked against him (as Kramnik hoped). Garry knew he could get good positions against it and didn't realize quickly enough how tough they were and how deeply Kramnik had prepared them.

And Naka has already played every one with more than 4 pts...

Thanks, Mig. Obviously you're right about the "Berlin Wall". ;) I see that I slightly exaggerated and that Garry tried the A30 English, Symmetrical as early as game 6. I'd always wondered about that. Also, I didn't mean to imply the top 3 had never played in the US Open before, but they are all top 45 in the world, the other players are not in the top 100, and the top 3 usually play against tougher competition internationally.

I am very grateful for the chess immigrants led by Lev Alburt in 79. We had good players before then such as Kavalek, Browne, Lein, Byrne, Tarjan, and Lombardy. We didn't have the depth of talent we do today where Becerra Rivero has a 2609 FIDE rating and didn't make the last Olympiad team!

Why does John Osen insist on referring to the U.S. Championship as the U.S. Open? The U.S. Open will be played in August this year.

"Why does John Osen insist on referring to the U.S. Championship as the U.S. Open? The U.S. Open will be played in August this year."

This is unnecessary. Since Kasparov retired most Americans don't care about chess. We need to celebrate and promote each other's interest, treat each other in a more mature and respectful manner, and realize chess is a very minor sport in the US.

Kamsky is #24 in the world and Nakamura is #30. If Nakamura wins this, will his fans dare to suggest he may be the top American player someday? I can't wait to see what they say on the message boards.

My impression is Kamsky and Nakamura have been fairly close in rating, and current achievements, ever since Nakamura arrived in the top circle of U.S. players by 2004 or thereabouts. (Note that Kamsky was climbing toward that top circle at about the same time. He'd been a top player a decade earlier, but only returned to chess in 2002 or 2003 after a long retirement, and it took him a few years to play himself back into top form. In fact, at the time several posters seemed convinced Kamsky would never achieve that, based on some comments I recall reading here several years ago.)

So although Kamsky has clearly outshone Nakamura in the past 18 months if only by virtue of his stunning upset victory in the World Cup that ushered him to the match with Topalov, pretty much anyone - no matter who they're a fan of - would suggest Nakamura "may be" the top American player "someday."

In fact, although I haven't checked the rating lists just now, I think it's probable that Nakamura already has been "the top American player" in terms of USCF rating, FIDE rating, and/or short-term achivements, at some point in the past 4 or 5 years.

As for John Olsen, it's starting to get funny. "Kramnik's Scotch", and "US Open" - in a single brief comment, I think.

He was already corrected in another thread when he repeatedly mis-stated the name of the tournament this thread is about.

Since that failed to deter him from calling it the "US Open" again in this thread, I wouldn't be optimistic about him getting it right next time. Perhaps he doesn't know there's a difference.

As for Jon Jacobs, it's starting to get funny. In a single, brief post he carelessly misspells John Osen's name, misspells "misstated", throws in a silly, superfluous comma between "Kramnik's Scotch" and "US Open", and audaciously (and rudely) sneers at Osen for errors in his comments.

I'm not optimistic about him demonstrating courtesy or respect next time. Perhaps he doesn't know what that means.

Uff da: Your intellectual level, not to mention understanding of the meaning of terms like "courtesy" and "respect", is shown by your seeming to assign the same significance to my minor (VERY minor) typos in a Web post, and the other guy's repeated factual errors about important chess matters - one of which sure demonstrates "respect" for the tournament that is the central subject of this thread.

Those of us who've spent more than 15 minutes of our lives on Web forums, soon learn to recognize and then automatically dismiss the sort of pedantic troll who harps on other people's typos or spelling in this kind of environment.

(Taking the liberty of momentarily lowering myself to Uff da's level: I note that you Uff da condemned yourself by trumpeting your mouse-man's pedantic standard -- the two commas that you placed outside of quote marks, belong inside the quote marks.)

Actually, Jon, you are partially correct.

If he is quoting directly from a another source as part of his own thought/sentence, then the punctuation goes outside the quotes. The only exception is if a ! or ? is a part of the original text.

As well, international students generally do not place commas or periods inside the quotes. The rule you mention is American tradition.

"I'm not optimistic about him demonstrating courtesy or respect next time. Perhaps he doesn't know what that means."


Vanessa Hudgens reference?

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on May 14, 2009 8:54 PM.

    MTel 2009: Bleeping Nuts was the previous entry in this blog.

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