U.S. Championship 2012
Congratulations to Hikaru Nakamura – 2012 U.S. Chess Champion He pulled an ‘off-beat’ opening in the final round with something that looked like it was from the games of Greco or La Bourdonais. Nakamura steered the White side of a ‘French’ completely away from Yasser Seirawan’s attempted defense of the same name. ‘Off-Beat’ or not – the game was well in control and extremely well played. Again – Congratulations ! – Hikaru finished powerfully. Anna Zatonskih and Irina Krush will have a playoff for the Women’s Championship tommorow. For the remaining decisive games of the U.S. Championship and the U.S. Women’s Championship – See Comments.
Hikaru Nakamura won with the black pieces today and knocked Gata Kamsky off of his perch. Nakamura now leads the tournament by a half point with one round to go. Kudos to Hikaru today. Kamsky had the White side of a Sicilian – Najdorf Variation. It began to look as if Gata was controlling all of the ‘correct’ squares, but despite Black’s typically backward ‘d’ Pawn, it was never an issue. Hikaru was ‘all over’ the position with increasing/relentless pressure on all sides. The Diagram says it all. White had nothing to do but hope that a parting with a Pawn or two might relieve some pressure. It was not to be. I don’t believe the result was ever in any doubt and Nakamura is well poised to take this tournament. For the other decisive game of this round – See Comments.
Kamsky played a beauty today and (personal opinion) is playing the ‘best’ chess of the 2012 U.S. Championship. His wins smack of complete domination; speculation is in the background and his wins give a very commanding style where the result appears inevitable. His win today put him in sole possession of first place; a half point ahead of Nakamura who drew. On the receiving end of a Kamsky onslaught was former U.S. Champion Yasser Seirawan. Seirawan played his favorite Caro Kann defense – classical variation. The players castled on opposite wings; that means that a common motif is to open up lines against the opposing King. In this case, using Black’s ‘h6′ as an excuse/target, White played ‘g4′ on move 17. Yasser took the Pawn giving White an open ‘g’ file; if he did not, you can bet that the ‘g’ Pawn was destined to play to ‘g5′ opening lines whichever way Black decided to go. Even here, although passive, Black was OK. Yasser has stated on several occasions that he enjoys grabbing Pawns when he can, holding onto the material advantage while he diffuses the ‘attempt’ at attack against his position. His Pawn Grab on move 21 (Diagram) was NOT the Pawn to grab. Rad8 would have gotten another piece into play, contested the ‘d’ file, left his Bishop defending the Kingside and leaving White to think about what he was eventually going to do with that Pawn on ‘c5′. AFTER that grab, Kamsky showed why he is the current U.S. Champion. The attack he unleashed beginning with a Bishop sacrifice on ‘h6′ was so overwhelming with a Rook penetration (sacrifice again) on ‘d7′, that Yasser had to part with he Queen. The finish of the game was forcefully executed. Wow – One of the best games of this tournament. For the remaining decisive games of the U.S. Championship and the U.S. Women’s Championship – See Comments.
Hikaru Nakamura won today; as did Gata Kamsky. Stripunsky (Nakamura’s opponent) playing White was really getting squeezed and elected to ‘sac the house’ on move 41. The imbalance in material was very difficult to evaluate and play. On move 62 (Diagram) White elected to sacrifice his last piece; a Rook. It is quite possible that Rc5 instead would have held the game. Be that as it may, White’s Pawns were not sufficiently mobilized, connected, or advanced enough to hold off the combination of Nakamura’s Rook and King. For the remaining decisive games of the U.S. Championship and the U.S. Women’s Championsip – See Comments.
As Black Robert Hess, instead of the simpler ‘g6′, elected to part with his Queen. Maybe not the strongest, but it sure set up a ‘nice’ imbalance in force where he eventually tied Gregory Kaidanov in knots. In the final position (Diagram), White loses his Queen and subsequently the game. For the remaining decisive games in the U.S. Championship and the U.S. Women’s Championsip – See Comments.
by National Life Master Loal DavisYasser Seirawan (playing Black) came very close today. He had the better of the opening; his favorite Caro Kann defense. On move 22 he could have produced a crushing bind. He did play a bind, though not as effective; even so was better and most likely winning. The game was a see-saw affair with Yasser making a slip on move 38. That allowed Strupunsky to untangle leaving Black’s Bishop marooned and dangling on the edge of the board. For the remaining decisive games in the U.S. Championship and the U.S. Women’s Championship – See Comments
Gregory Kaidanov took out the current U.S. Champion Gata Kamsky in a Kamsky ‘speciality’. Kamsky has long played the black side of an ‘a6′ Slav, but Kaidanov looked extremely comfortable and applied unrelenting pressure; so much so that Kamsky attempted to sacrifice a piece to pick up a couple of Pawns. It was not enough and White brought home the point. For the remaining decisive games – See Comments