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Kamsky-Shulman Showdown in US Ch

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After two draws in the first round of the US championship final quad yesterday, things got interesting with two decisive games today. 2008 champion Yuri Shulman beat 2009 champ Nakamura with black in a very sharp French thanks to a beautiful finishing move, which is for you to find in the diagram. Nakamura grabbed a pawn and allowed a vicious attack, but would have had decent chances to hold by bailing out with 23.Qf6. He tried to keep the fight alive and instead ran into a haymaker and resigned on move 26. Kamsky also won, taking out another former US champion, Onischuk, in a treacherous rook endgame with four passed pawns. It will take some time to ascertain Black's fatal mistake. It looks wrong to move the king away from the f-pawn with 48..Kc5. 48..c2 49.Rc6 Rxb5 50.Rxc2 Rxa5 51.f5 and Black still has to defend but it doesn't look too tough anymore. Kamsky actually offered a draw at some point, but I don't know at what point.

This sets up a perfect final pairing tomorrow, Shulman with white against Kamsky for all the marbles. Well, $35,000 should get you just about any this side of the Elgin Marbles. If they draw it's tiebreak time, though I don't see anything about the exact format on the official website. Ah, now I do, though I'm not sure it's all been updated for this year's new format since some of the language still refers to the 2009 championship. Assuming it's oll korrect, this is what will go down on Tuesday:

The base time for the game is 60 minutes+ 5 second increment. It will be a draw odds game (Black wins on a draw.) The Players will both bid on the amount of time (minutes and seconds, a number equal or less to 60:00) that they are willing to play with in order to choose their color. The Player who bid the lower number of time chooses his or her color and is allowed the amount of time they bid; the other side shall receive 60:00 time. If both Players pick exactly the same number, the chief arbiter will flip a coin to determine who shall choose their color.

That's the system Greg Shahade has touted for a while, if I'm not mistaken, with the players settling on a mutually satisfactory value of white. Most experience with such draw odds armageddon games is with blitz and the argument whether it should be 6-5 or 5-4. In a longer game, I assume both players will bid low and choose black and the draw odds. I don't doubt there are many who would go for 15 minutes vs 60 if it meant getting draw odds, even with black, but this may be delusional. Personally, I'd rather make a go of a pair of rapids before going to a draw odds game, but that's splitting hairs a bit. As the Book of Revelations says, let's hope for a decisive game tomorrow so we can all avoid Armageddon. Meanwhile, Shabalov's scorching stretch run of 4/5 netted him "best of the rest" honors and fifth place.


Since it was brought up, the reason there are no rapid games first in the case of a tie for first is so that the deciding game is guaranteed to be one with at least a decent time control.

Ideally I'd prefer the time control to be even slower than a base time of 60, however there are unfortunately some time constraints that were imposed. The advantage about going straight to armageddon, without all of the random 2 game mini matches first, is that you can use the longest time control possible given the time you have available to run the match. Otherwise you are always at the great risk of a maddening 5 minute blitz game determining the U.S. Champion.

This is my thinking and I believe reflects the thinking of some of the U.S. Championship organizers as well.

I dunno. I don't like mixing controls either, or deciding the title with blitz. But draw odds (and time odds, if less so) is a pretty serious distortion of the game. I reconcile the use of all of these methods by saying that the public wants a winner and these methods are more interesting (and easier to explain, sort of) than a coin toss.

As with Linares and their various formula systems, I basically consider first place shared, but the title went to so-and-so on tiebreaks. I have a slightly harder time saying that if someone wins a set of rapid games. Blitz, ugh. Draw odds, even in a longer game? Hmm. I guess we'll see. But as I say just about every year, I'm all for experimentation in events with as little traction as the US championship has had traditionally. Not putting Finegold into a Cirque du Soleil outfit, but groups or quads or unusual tiebreaks, why not? If rigor were all we wanted we could be snoozing to a 12-player round-robin with the defending champ and the top 11 on the rating list.

Hard not to show some distortion of the game in a tiebreak with limited available time. The question is what distortion is more acceptable.

spoiler alert..

if rg8 rc1
if Qh4 rc1

if rd1 rc1 qg4 qe1

60m+5s versus 15m+5s looks about right. You can think on the opponent's time. If you gave an increment advantage also, the balance might increase. As is, once you've spent the 45 extra minutes, it's heads up, but if you make it 60m+15s versus 20m+5s, the soft side has the perpetual time crunch.

In Norway the matter of a tie is solved with a new match weeks later. This is also i nice excuse to arrange even more chess for the public.

Timman starts off his art of chess analysis book by telling the reader that ties in interzonals for alternate places to candidates matches are traditionally played off, I think it was an 8-game match. Then they get abandoned when noone defaults the candidates. I relapse the details.

I feel it is extremely unfair to Nakamura that his clock moves so much faster than his opponent's, making him play at a blitz pace even in classical games.

This should be rectified. Yesterday he was clearly forced to move Rh2 after just a few seconds.
Why do they make him suffer this handicap?

Yesterday, after Kamsky's b5 in the endgame, I stopped watching commentary and the game assuming it was going to be a draw... imagine my surprise coming here this morning and finding out that Kamsky won and Onischuk played something other than c2...

I think Kamsky said he offered a draw after his Ne4 after the game, but I forget exactly. He also said Onischuk was better at some point after that. I think either Re2 or Kf5 is a better try in the line Mig gives than f5 (Kamsky mentioned these moves also).

And it's an auction!

Any guesses as to bids? (Mine: 44 minutes)

I guess 27 minutes by Kamsky as the winning bid, and Kamsky to "win" by drawing.

The good news is that they have all night to think about their bid, and don't have to make it on the fly :) Bidding time is 10 AM Central time tomorrow (11 AM ICC time), and the game will start 15 minutes after the bids are finalized, and colors are set.

Both will go low, Kamsky because he is confident, Shulman because today's effort proved how tough Kamsky is. Shulman will win the bidding with 15 minutes vs Kamsky's 20, and lose the game.

15 minutes sounds like a Nakamura bid to me!

Is it a single round bid to see who has less time? or muti-round bid until one stops bid?

One bid

This is the last tourney that counts. Who will get the rating based 5th slot on the Olympiad team?

Akobian, Varuzhan g USA 2599 7 1983
Lenderman, Aleksandr g USA 2598 18 1989
Hess, Robert L g USA 2590 8 1991

Why does the US persist in handicapping itself by these absurd selection methods?

Is there seriously anyone out there who thinks the US would have a better chance of winning the Olympiad with Lenderman or Hess on the team instead of Shabalov?

Why not , a parallel Texas Hold’em game between the two challengers, or even better a Russian roulette shout-out and whoever lives should be the 2010 champion?
‘Poor’ Chess. What a decline!!

"Is there seriously anyone out there who thinks the US would have a better chance of winning the Olympiad with Lenderman or Hess on the team instead of Shabalov?"

If you include Akobian, I think all disagree with you. In 2002 the US went with guys Shabalov's age and finished 41rst. In 2008 they went with younger guys like Akobian and finished 3rd.

I will concede that Akobian/Shabalov is something resembling a selection dilemma, but as I understand it, you guys prefer to let a handful of rating points decide whether it's Akobian or someone who loses to Irina K like a child.

As for age, Shabba's the same age as Petrosian was when he played top board for the USSR in 1972. That didn't work out so badly.

In 2002 Seirawan won the silver medal on board 2, Kaidanov, Gulko, Benjamin, Christiansen, and Ivanov were 8 years younger than they are now and still got 41rst. Akobian won the bronze 2 years ago. It's a marathon, not a sprint. Nuff said.

Given that we're talking about the reserve spot after Nakamura, Kamsky, Onischuk, and Shulman, whoever is chosen can expect to play about one game in two, if that. So it's not exactly the most exhausting event on the calendar. As I said Akobian is a genuine contender, though in my view Shabalov is stronger. But Lendermann and Hess shouldn't be.

You handicap yourself the same way in athletics, of course, preferring a formula over actually picking the best players. Mig recites in his piece today how important he thinks this is; it's obviously deeply ingrained in the US psyche. I suspect this is a lot to do with the fact you actually don't do much international sport, and thus tend to regard the team as a prize people should be able to win a place on, rather than something created to do well. You wouldn't find any reasonably strong footballing nation picking its team that way, for instance.

@preferring a formula over actually picking the best players.

Americans resent 'picking' and for good reason : it is doomed to be biased by the preferences of the 'picker'. A system (ELO rank, palce in a tournament, etc.) which allows each to control his fate through his own efforts through objective results, i.e. not be subject of some other whims is the best, by far.

Up to a point, yes. Although the picking is generally done by a committee, so individual biases are minimised.

You can say that a system is the fairest, if you like. What it doesn't do is result in the best team. It depends, as I said, which of those objectives is paramount. Other countries tend to consider the overriding objective is to get the best team to the event; the US doesn't, not only in chess but in other sports. It's interesting to speculate why that is, and I'm fairly sure the US sporting isolation has something to do with it. Also perhaps the whole federal vs local thing affects the country's psyche.

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