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2005 US Chess Championship

Nakamura and Goletiani champions!

Hikaru Nakamura of White Plains, NY is the new US Champion! The 16-year-old swept the playoff match
against Alex Stripunsky 2-0. Rusudan Goletiani, also from NY State, won her playoff against Tatev
Abrahamyan with the same 2-0 score to win the Women's Championship. Above the new champions pose
with AF4C president Erik Anderson (left).

12.5.04 –

Blogger: 2005 US WOmen's Champion Rusudan Goletiani

Hello everyone, I am back to blog :-) and I am even happier this time, I won the US Women's
Championship. The playoff was interesting, in first game I surprised my opponent with the opening, so I got
some advantage in time. The move b6 was not very good for me and she could have played better, but after
trading queens, I got the better position and won the game. In the second game I was doing really well but
later in the game I gave her some chances, but I managed to win anyways :-)

Sooooo the tournament is over. San Diego is a great place to be, especially that we could see the sunset in
the ocean from the lobby. It was an amazing view and it helped me win the tournament. :-)

Once again I want thank Erik Anderson and all the sponsors for organizing a fantastic tournament, and to
thank everyone supporting me, my dad, my husband, all my friends, my students, you support helped me to
become 2005 US Women's Champion!!!!! Thank you all!

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2005 US Chess Championship

Blogger: 2005 US champion Hikaru Nakamura!

Hi everyone. The first playoff game was much more interesting, the second one was kind of dry. He could
have drawn, but tried to win of course. In the first game he was slightly better because I overlooked the Nh5
maneuver, which caused me quite a few problems. If I lose the dark-squared bishop then he can play d4 and
white is better. His f4 was a slight mistake probably. d4 and white is a little better.

It probably will feel odd to go down to Mexico next week as US Champion. I'm playing a match against
Sergey Karjakin, six classical games in Cuernavaca.

My toughest game had to be yesterday's against Ibragimov. So many tricks in the endgame, one move he
wins, one he loses. I got a little lucky. I don't think I was losing in any of my other games, at least not a
forced loss. I had a cold for the first 2/3 of the tournament and slowly got better. It felt like I gained energy
as the tournament went on. I scored 2.5/3 in the final two rounds, so that seems to be true.

The title will likely help get invitations to big events. I look forward to playing those 2700s. I think they
have something to learn from me!

I think it's good to settle the championship title on the board, although deciding the playoff participants on
tiebreaks is a little strange. Thanks to Erik Anderson, the AF4C and the other sponsors too.

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2005 US Chess Championship

Final crosstable

Stripunsky and Nakamura tied for first on points and will play a two-game playoff match Sunday to decide
first prize. (1st = $25,000, 2nd = $17,000) Tiebreak details: Two games at G/25 plus 10 seconds per move. If
still tied there will be a final game at G/7 for white, G/5 for black plus 2 seconds per move, black having
draw odds.

Six players finished with six points. Prizes 3-5 are decided by tiebreak points. So Kaidanov wins third prize,
Kudrin wins fourth prize, Shulman wins fifth prize. All other prizes are aggregated and divided evenly
among each point group.

In the women's championship, Goletiani and Abrahamyan tied for first with 4.5 and will play a rapid playoff
match Sunday. If that is tied there will be a sudden-death blitz game to decide first prize. Krush and
Battsetseg tied on points at 4.0 and the first three prizes are decided by tiebreak (or playoff) so Krush wins
third prize and Battsetseg, as the only other player with 4.0, wins fourth prize.

Congratulations to those who achieved title norms!

IM norm: Salvijus Bercys, Josh Friedel, Dmitry Zilberstein, Lev Milman
WGM norm: Tsagaan Battsetseg
WIM norm: Tatev Abrahamyan

The table below has the standings in order of official tiebreak formula. An alternative table with
rating performance and color information is below.

The first tiebreak formula is "modified median" which is based on the scores of the players' opponents,
dropping the two lowest scores. Second is "Solkoff," the opponent's scores including the lowest. These
systems are based on rewarding players for playing more successful opponents. Third is cumulative scoring,
in which you add up number of points the players had in each round. This rewards early success, since in
this tournament format players who have higher scores earlier almost always face stronger competition.

# Name Rtg 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Tot TBrk[M] TBrk[S] TBrk[C]
1 GM Alex Stripunsky 2640 W19 W36 D2 W3 D23 W13 D5 D4 W9 7.0 41 50.5 36.5

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2005 US Chess Championship

2 GM Hikaru Nakamura 2676 W46 W29 D1 W24 D4 D7 W3 D9 W10 7.0 41 50 36
3 GM Gregory Kaidanov 2730 W47 D5 W22 L1 W26 W4 L2 D6 W18 6.0 42 51 31
4 GM Sergey Kudrin 2607 W57 W9 W10 D20 D2 L3 W21 D1 D7 6.0 42 50 34
5 GM Yury Shulman 2590 W61 D3 D11 W43 D6 W23 D1 D7 D14 6.0 41 47.5 32
6 GM Joel Benjamin 2620 D49 D51 W19 W36 D5 D14 D18 D3 W26 6.0 37 44 29.5
7 GM Gregory Serper 2598 D55 W58 D40 W48 W32 D2 D11 D5 D4 6.0 36.5 42.5 32
8 GM Alexander Onischuk 2680 W21 D12 D25 L13 W41 D32 W48 D18 W22 6.0 35.5 43 28.5
9 GM Alexander Goldin 2705 W42 L4 D41 W44 D12 W25 W13 D2 L1 5.5 40 48 29
10 GM Ildar Ibragimov 2671 W52 W13 L4 D25 W34 D11 D12 W33 L2 5.5 39 47 30.5
11 GM Boris Gulko 2705 W44 D22 D5 D26 W29 D10 D7 D16 D12 5.5 38.5 47.5 29.5
12 GM Julio Becerra 2582 W39 D8 L20 W49 D9 W17 D10 D15 D11 5.5 38.5 46.5 28.5
13 GM Alexander Fishbein 2575 W43 L10 W51 W8 W20 L1 L9 D27 W32 5.5 38.5 46 29
14 GM Gata Kamsky 2777 D50 D32 D44 W28 D16 D6 D33 W24 D5 5.5 36.5 44 26.5
15 GM Varuzhan Akobian 2665 W37 D28 D18 D29 D22 D40 W32 D12 D16 5.5 35.5 44 28.5
16 GM Aleks Wojtkiewicz 2590 W38 D20 D48 D33 D14 D19 W35 D11 D15 5.5 35.5 43.5 28.5
17 GM Alex Yermolinsky 2642 D40 D50 W52 D34 D25 L12 W44 D21 W19 5.5 33 40 26
18 IM Renier Gonzalez 2536 W54 D30 D15 L23 W37 W20 D6 D8 L3 5.0 38.5 46.5 28
19 Salvijus Bercys 2418 L1 W62 L6 W53 W50 D16 D24 W23 L17 5.0 37.5 43.5 24.5
20 GM Igor Novikov 2690 W41 D16 W12 D4 L13 L18 W50 L26 W33 5.0 37 44.5 27
21 FM Lev Milman 2455 L8 L43 W54 W38 W30 W27 L4 D17 D25 5.0 37 44.5 23.5
22 GM Dmitry Gurevich 2551 W56 D11 L3 W45 D15 D24 D23 W40 L8 5.0 37 44 27
23 GM Alexander Shabalov 2689 L48 W63 W37 W18 D1 L5 D22 L19 W42 5.0 36.5 42.5 26
24 GM Nick DeFirmian 2626 W33 D48 W28 L2 D40 D22 D19 L14 W41 5.0 36 43.5 27
25 IM Levon Altounian 2546 D63 W49 D8 D10 D17 L9 D28 W48 D21 5.0 36 42 25.5
26 IM Eugene Perelshteyn 2579 D58 D55 W35 D11 L3 W42 D40 W20 L6 5.0 35 41 26
27 GM Larry Christiansen 2611 W35 D34 D32 D40 D33 L21 W46 D13 D28 5.0 33.5 41.5 26.5
28 IM Yury Lapshun 2527 W62 D15 L24 L14 D45 W58 D25 W49 D27 5.0 33.5 39 23.5
29 IM Cyrus Lakdawala 2545 W64 L2 W57 D15 L11 D46 D49 D41 W40 5.0 33.5 37 24.5
30 IM Ben Finegold 2621 W45 D18 D34 L32 L21 W43 D41 D42 W46 5.0 31 39 24
31 GM Alexander Ivanov 2633 D51 L40 W56 D41 D48 L33 W52 D36 W44 5.0 28 34.5 22
32 IM Dmitry Schneider 2503 W60 D14 D27 W30 L7 D8 L15 W34 L13 4.5 26.5 46 26.5
33 IM Blas Lugo 2413 L24 W53 W50 D16 D27 W31 D14 L10 L20 4.5 25.5 43.5 26
34 GM Walter Browne 2508 W59 D27 D30 D17 L10 L48 W38 L32 W45 4.5 23 40.5 23.5
35 WGM Rusudan Goletiani 2375 L27 W60 L26 W47 D42 W36 L16 L37 W48 4.5 22 39 21.5
36 IM Stanislav Kriventsov 2504 W53 L1 W55 L6 D43 L35 W61 D31 D37 4.5 21.5 40 23
37 IM Ron Burnett 2423 L15 W64 L23 W56 L18 L50 W43 W35 D36 4.5 21.5 35.5 19.5
38 FM Michael Casella 2329 L16 L42 W62 L21 D56 W53 L34 W61 W51 4.5 18.5 34 16.5
39 WFM Tatev Abrahamyan 2305 L12 L41 L53 W59 W60 D52 L42 W58 W49 4.5 17.5 33 16
40 FM Dmitry Zilberstein 2419 D17 W31 D7 D27 D24 D15 D26 L22 L29 4.0 35.5 47 25
41 FM Joshua Friedel 2464 L20 W39 D9 D31 L8 W55 D30 D29 L24 4.0 32.5 44 21
42 IM Irina Krush (w) 2472 L9 W38 L43 W57 D35 L26 W39 D30 L23 4.0 30.5 41 20.5
43 WIM Tsagaan Battsetseg 2238 L13 W21 W42 L5 D36 L30 L37 W52 D50 4.0 30 41.5 20
44 FM Marcel Martinez 2466 L11 W61 D14 L9 D49 W45 L17 W55 L31 4.0 29 40 20
45 FM Matt Hoekstra 2409 L30 D59 W63 L22 D28 L44 W56 W50 L34 4.0 25.5 35.5 18.5
46 FM Stephen Muhammad 2445 L2 L56 W64 D55 W61 D29 L27 W47 L30 4.0 23 35 19
47 FM Tegshuren Enkhbat 2481 L3 L57 W59 L35 W63 L49 W58 L46 W55 4.0 22 32.5 16
48 WGM Anna Zatonskih 2459 W23 D24 D16 L7 D31 W34 L8 L25 L35 3.5 34.5 46.5 23
49 FM Robby Adamson 2400 D6 L25 W58 L12 D44 W47 D29 L28 L39 3.5 30.5 42 19.5
50 IM Jesse Kraai 2493 D14 D17 L33 W51 L19 W37 L20 L45 D43 3.5 30.5 41.5 19
51 FM Bruci Lopez 2417 D31 D6 L13 L50 L58 W54 W59 D57 L38 3.5 25.5 37 16.5

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52 GM Anatoly Lein 2436 L10 W54 L17 D61 D55 D39 L31 L43 W57 3.5 25.5 36.5 16.5
53 Iryna Zenyuk (w) 2094 L36 L33 W39 L19 D59 L38 L57 W64 W63 3.5 22.5 32 12.5
54 Chouchanik Airapetian (w) 2149 L18 L52 L21 L62 W64 L51 W60 D56 W61 3.5 18.5 28.5 10
55 FM Fabio La Rota 2336 D7 D26 L36 D46 D52 L41 W62 L44 L47 3.0 26.5 37.5 17
56 WFM Laura Ross 2195 L22 W46 L31 L37 D38 D57 L45 D54 D60 3.0 26.5 36.5 14
57 WIM Jennifer Shahade 2346 L4 W47 L29 L42 L62 D56 W53 D51 L52 3.0 24 35 14
58 WIM Anna Hahn 2256 D26 L7 L49 D63 W51 L28 L47 L39 W64 3.0 23.5 34.5 13.5
59 WFM Anna Levina 2099 L34 D45 L47 L39 D53 W64 L51 L60 W62 3.0 21 30 11.5
60 Tatiana Vayserberg (w) 2037 L32 L35 L61 W64 L39 D63 L54 W59 D56 3.0 19.5 28.5 10.5
61 Jake Kleiman 2310 L5 L44 W60 D52 L46 W62 L36 L38 L54 2.5 25 35.5 14
62 Vanessa West (w) 2119 L28 L19 L38 W54 W57 L61 L55 D63 L59 2.5 22 32 12
63 WIM Esther Epstein 2178 D25 L23 L45 D58 L47 D60 D64 D62 L53 2.5 20.5 30.5 12
64 WFM Olga Sagalchik 2154 L29 L37 L46 L60 L54 L59 D63 L53 L58 0.5 22.5 32 1.5

The table below contains some additional information, but is not in order of the official tiebreaks.

Key: ranking, name, rating, TPR, round result (b means player had black, w means player had white, 1
means a win, 0 means a loss, then after the / is the ranking of the opponent on the table), then points. The
overall leader or leaders are marked in yellow, the leader/s of the women's championship in blue. Players
with the same number of points are listed (roughly) in order of the average rating of their opponents. Female
players have a (w) in the name column.

The TPR column shows how many points above or below the player's rating he or she performed in the
tournament. (Tournament performance rating) E.g. Stripunsky's result is what would have been expected
from a player rated 2752 (2533 + 219). I.e. he outperformed his rating by a remarkable 219 points.

# Name Rtg TPR 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
1 Stripunsky,A 2533 +219 w 1/23 b 1/35 b ½/2 w 1/3 b ½/24 w 1/13 w ½/5 b ½/4 b 1/9 7.0
2 Nakamura,H 2620 +128 w 1/46 b 1/30 w ½/1 b 1/22 w ½/4 b ½/8 b 1/3 w ½/9 w 1/11 7.0
3 Kaidanov,G 2611 +31 w 1/47 b ½/5 w 1/21 b 0/1 w 1/27 b 1/4 w 0/2 b ½/6 w 1/18 6.0
4 Kudrin,S 2528 +136 w 1/57 b 1/9 w 1/11 b ½/19 b ½/2 w 0/3 b 1/20 w ½/1 w ½/8 6.0
5 Shulman,Y 2549 +85 b 1/61 w ½/3 b ½/10 w 1/42 b ½/6 w 1/24 b ½/1 b ½/8 w ½/14 6.0
6 Benjamin,J 2554 +58 w ½/49 b ½/51 w 1/23 b 1/35 w ½/5 b ½/14 w ½/18 w ½/3 b 1/27 6.0
7 Onischuk,A 2653 -67 b 1/20 w ½/12 b ½/25 w 0/13 b 1/41 w ½/32 w 1/48 b ½/18 w 1/21 6.0
8 Serper,G 2542 +38 b ½/55 w 1/58 b ½/40 w 1/48 b 1/32 w ½/2 b ½/10 w ½/5 b ½/4 6.0
9 Goldin,A 2620 -45 b 1/43 w 0/4 b ½/41 w 1/44 b ½/12 w 1/25 b 1/13 b ½/2 w 0/1 5.5
10 Gulko,B 2600 -6 w 1/44 b ½/21 w ½/5 b ½/27 w 1/30 b ½/11 w ½/8 b ½/16 w ½/12 5.5
11 Ibragimov,I 2585 -7 b 1/52 w 1/13 b 0/4 w ½/25 b 1/34 w ½/10 b ½/12 w 1/33 b 0/2 5.5
12 Becerra,J 2537 +75 w 1/39 b ½/7 w 0/19 b 1/49 w ½/9 b 1/17 w ½/11 w ½/15 b ½/10 5.5
13 Fishbein,A 2505 +85 w 1/42 b 0/11 w 1/51 b 1/7 w 1/19 b 0/1 w 0/9 b ½/26 w 1/32 5.5
14 Kamsky,G 2717 -159 b ½/50 w ½/32 b ½/44 w 1/29 b ½/16 w ½/6 b ½/33 w 1/22 b ½/5 5.5
15 Akobian,V 2571 -30 w 1/37 b ½/29 w ½/18 b ½/30 w ½/21 b ½/40 w 1/32 b ½/12 w ½/16 5.5
16 Wojtkiewicz,A 2539 +13 w 1/38 b ½/19 w ½/48 b ½/33 w ½/14 b ½/23 b 1/36 w ½/10 b ½/15 5.5
17 Yermolinsky,A 2568 -65 b ½/40 w ½/50 b 1/52 w ½/34 b ½/25 w 0/12 b 1/44 w ½/20 w 1/23 5.5
18 Gonzalez,R 2428 +133 w 1/54 b ½/28 b ½/15 w 0/24 w 1/37 b 1/19 b ½/6 w ½/7 b 0/3 5.0
19 Novikov,I 2588 -63 b 1/41 w ½/16 b 1/12 w ½/4 b 0/13 w 0/18 b 1/50 w 0/27 b 1/33 5.0
20 Milman,L 2434 +40 w 0/7 b 0/42 w 1/54 b 1/38 w 1/28 b 1/26 w 0/4 b ½/17 b ½/25 5.0
21 Gurevich,D 2499 +35 b 1/56 w ½/10 b 0/3 w 1/45 b ½/15 w ½/22 b ½/24 w 1/40 b 0/7 5.0
22 DeFirmian,N 2550 -32 w 1/33 b ½/48 w 1/29 w 0/2 b ½/40 b ½/21 w ½/23 b 0/14 w 1/41 5.0

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23 Bercys,S 2356 +131 b 0/1 w 1/62 b 0/6 w 1/53 b 1/50 w ½/16 b ½/22 w 1/24 b 0/17 5.0
24 Shabalov,A 2608 -135 w 0/48 b 1/63 w 1/37 b 1/18 w ½/1 b 0/5 w ½/21 b 0/23 w 1/43 5.0
25 Altounian,L 2456 +62 w ½/63 b 1/49 w ½/7 b ½/11 w ½/17 b 0/9 w ½/29 b 1/48 w ½/20 5.0
26 Christiansen,L 2531 -69 b 1/36 w ½/34 b ½/32 w ½/40 b ½/33 w 0/20 b 1/46 w ½/13 w ½/29 5.0
27 Perelshteyn,E 2579 -84 b ½/58 w ½/55 b 1/36 w ½/10 b 0/3 w 1/43 w ½/40 b 1/19 w 0/6 5.0
28 Finegold,B 2531 -84 b 1/45 w ½/18 b ½/34 w 0/32 b 0/20 w 1/42 b ½/41 w ½/43 b 1/46 5.0
29 Lapshun,Y 2461 +12 b 1/62 w ½/15 b 0/22 b 0/14 w ½/45 w 1/58 b ½/25 w 1/49 b ½/26 5.0
30 Lakdawala,C 2422 +45 b 1/64 w 0/2 b 1/57 w ½/15 b 0/10 w ½/46 b ½/49 w ½/41 b 1/40 5.0
31 Ivanov,A 2582 -170 b ½/51 w 0/40 b 1/56 w ½/41 b ½/48 w 0/33 b 1/52 w ½/35 b 1/44 5.0
32 Schneider,D 2453 +44 w 1/60 b ½/14 w ½/26 b 1/28 w 0/8 b ½/7 b 0/15 w 1/34 b 0/13 4.5
33 Lugo,B 2399 +119 b 0/22 w 1/53 b 1/50 w ½/16 w ½/26 b 1/31 w ½/14 b 0/11 w 0/19 4.5
34 Browne,W 2455 -34 w 1/59 b ½/26 w ½/28 b ½/17 w 0/11 b 0/48 w 1/38 b 0/32 w 1/45 4.5
35 Kriventsov,S 2414 -36 b 1/53 w 0/1 b 1/55 w 0/6 b ½/42 w 0/36 w 1/61 b ½/31 w ½/37 4.5
36 Goletiani,R (w) 2336 +85 w 0/26 b 1/60 w 0/27 w 1/47 b ½/43 b 1/35 w 0/16 b 0/37 w 1/48 4.5
37 Burnett,R 2444 -80 b 0/15 w 1/64 b 0/24 w 1/56 b 0/18 w 0/50 b 1/42 w 1/36 b ½/35 4.5
38 Casella,M 2259 +62 b 0/16 w 0/43 b 1/62 w 0/20 b ½/56 w 1/53 b 0/34 w 1/61 b 1/51 4.5
39 Abrahamyan,T (w) 2238 +52 b 0/12 w 0/41 b 0/53 b 1/59 w 1/60 w ½/52 b 0/43 w 1/58 b 1/49 4.5
40 Zilberstein,D 2379 +120 w ½/17 b 1/31 w ½/8 b ½/26 w ½/22 w ½/15 b ½/27 b 0/21 w 0/30 4.0
41 Friedel,J 2436 +27 w 0/19 b 1/39 w ½/9 b ½/31 w 0/7 b 1/55 w ½/28 b ½/30 b 0/22 4.0
42 Battsetseg,T (w) 2243 +179 b 0/13 w 1/20 b 1/43 b 0/5 w ½/35 b 0/28 w 0/37 w 1/52 b ½/50 4.0
43 Krush,I (w) 2464 -83 w 0/9 b 1/38 w 0/42 b 1/57 w ½/36 b 0/27 w 1/39 b ½/28 b 0/24 4.0
44 Martinez,M 2383 +64 b 0/10 w 1/61 w ½/14 b 0/9 w ½/49 b 1/45 w 0/17 b 1/55 w 0/31 4.0
45 Hoekstra,M 2369 -62 w 0/28 b ½/59 w 1/63 b 0/21 b ½/29 w 0/44 b 1/56 w 1/50 b 0/34 4.0
46 Muhammad,S 2387 -58 b 0/2 w 0/56 b 1/64 w ½/55 w 1/61 b ½/30 w 0/26 b 1/47 w 0/28 4.0
47 Enkhbat,T 2406 -125 b 0/3 w 0/57 w 1/59 b 0/36 w 1/63 b 0/49 b 1/58 w 0/46 w 1/55 4.0
48 Zatonskih,A (w) 2440 +6 b 1/24 w ½/22 b ½/16 b 0/8 w ½/31 w 1/34 b 0/7 w 0/25 b 0/36 3.5
49 Adamson,R 2373 -41 b ½/6 w 0/25 b 1/58 w 0/12 b ½/44 w 1/47 w ½/30 b 0/29 w 0/39 3.5
50 Kraai,J 2425 -49 w ½/14 b ½/17 w 0/33 b 1/51 w 0/23 b 1/37 w 0/19 b 0/45 w ½/42 3.5
51 Lopez,B 2403 -134 w ½/31 w ½/6 b 0/13 w 0/50 b 0/58 b 1/54 w 1/59 b ½/57 w 0/38 3.5
52 Lein,A 2387 -101 w 0/11 b 1/54 w 0/17 b ½/61 w ½/55 b ½/39 w 0/31 b 0/42 w 1/57 3.5
53 Zenyuk,I (w) 2153 +35 w 0/35 b 0/33 w 1/39 b 0/23 w ½/59 b 0/38 w 0/57 b 1/64 w 1/63 3.5
54 Airapetian,C (w) 2149 +16 b 0/18 w 0/52 b 0/20 w 0/62 b 1/64 w 0/51 b 1/60 w ½/56 b 1/61 3.5
55 La Rota,F 2333 -48 w ½/8 b ½/27 w 0/35 b ½/46 b ½/52 w 0/41 b 1/62 w 0/44 b 0/47 3.0
56 Ross,L (w) 2117 +98 w 0/21 b 1/46 w 0/31 b 0/37 w ½/38 b ½/57 w 0/45 b ½/54 b ½/60 3.0
57 Shahade,J (w) 2361 -149 b 0/4 b 1/47 w 0/30 w 0/43 b 0/62 w ½/56 b 1/53 w ½/51 b 0/52 3.0
58 Hahn,A (w) 2235 +13 w ½/27 b 0/8 w 0/49 b ½/63 w 1/51 b 0/29 w 0/47 b 0/39 w 1/64 3.0
59 Levina,A (w) 2052 +76 b 0/34 w ½/45 b 0/47 w 0/39 b ½/53 w 1/64 b 0/51 w 0/60 b 1/62 3.0
60 Vayserberg,T (w) 1973 +115 b 0/32 w 0/36 b 0/61 w 1/64 b 0/39 b ½/63 w 0/54 b 1/59 w ½/56 3.0
61 Kleiman,J 2217 -93 w 0/5 b 0/44 w 1/60 w ½/52 b 0/46 w 1/62 b 0/35 b 0/38 w 0/54 2.5
62 West,V (w) 2107 -8 w 0/29 b 0/23 w 0/38 b 1/54 w 1/57 b 0/61 w 0/55 b ½/63 w 0/59 2.5
63 Epstein,E (w) 2188 -82 b ½/25 w 0/24 b 0/45 w ½/58 b 0/47 w ½/60 b ½/64 w ½/62 b 0/53 2.5
64 Sagalchik,O (w) 2132 -401 w 0/30 b 0/37 w 0/46 b 0/60 w 0/54 b 0/59 w ½/63 w 0/53 b 0/58 0.5

Round 9 Review: Action Heroes

12.4.04

What a round, what a Championship! In a fitting climax to a tremendous fighting tournament, even the final
round wasn't enough chess to decide the 2005 titles! Both the US Championship and the Women's
Championship will go to rapid playoff games to decide first prize.

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2005 US Chess Championship

Both leaders of the tournament won in the final round in incredible games. Both players seem to have been
losing at one point, but both Alexander Stripunsky and Hikaru Nakamura showed they are championship
material by winning must-win games. Stripunsky launched a dramatic attack against Goldin with the black
pieces. He sacrificed the exchange and his pieces soon swarmed around the white king. In the tactical
insanity that followed for over a dozen moves Goldin's king lost all of its protective pawns.

Goldin (left) fell to Stripunsky's sensational attack.

But when Stripunsky missed the most effective finishing blows, White had a last-gasp chance to turn the
tables on the last move of the time control at move 40. (Isn't that always the way?) Had Goldin found
40.Nxg7! the result might have been completely different, although it could still have gone either way. With
that opportunity gone and the time control reached, Stripunsky cleaned up effectively to move to seven
points.

That meant Hikaru Nakamura had to win against Ildar Ibragimov to tie Stripunsky and force a Sunday
playoff. The problem was that he was losing! The teen had raced through the opening and fallen victim to an
excellent piece sacrifice by the experienced Grandmaster. Even if Nakamura survived the immediate attack
Black would be left with a mighty wave of central pawns.

As usual, Nakamura refused to go on the defensive and instead hung on to the material and launched his
own attack on Ibragimov's king. It looked desperate, but despite time trouble (rare for the speedy
16-year-old) he got good chances. But when Nakamura gave up two pieces for a rook it looked like
Ibragimov would inevitably consolidate and win with his pawns. It boiled down to Black's bishops and rook
versus White's rooks and bishop, but Black had kept a tsunami of center pawns that looked crushing.

Nakamura (left) somehow survived Ibragimov's sacrifice.

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2005 US Chess Championship

By then Ibragimov had time trouble of his own and soon things weren't clear at all. (Both 33...Bb5+ and
35...e4 looked very strong.) After exchanges Nakamura had a rook on the seventh rank versus a bishop and
connected passed pawns. It looked like White would have to settle for a draw and clear second place. But as
he has done so often in this event, Nakamura played to win despite great risk and it paid off. Instead of
bailing out to hold and draw, he played 45.f4, which could have led to a loss.

Ibragimov now had to find several very difficult moves to seal the win, but
he faltered. 47...Kf8! was the correct first step (47...Bb5 immediately loses
to the spectacular 48.Kf5 followed by Kf6 and white is mating!) but after
48.Re5 48...a5? it was again unclear. 48...Bb5! 49.Kf5 d3 50.Kf6 Ba4!! is
the remarkable winner, controlling both d1 and e8. It's also the only move
that doesn't lose.

Nakamura's technique was ruthless for the rest of the game as his rook
hunted down the black pawns while his king blockaded the passers. By the
time the players reached the last time control at move 60, White was clearly
winning.

An incredible, emotional game. Nakamura will face Stripunsky in the rapid playoff on Sunday. The winner
will get the title of US Champion and $25,000. The loser gets $17,000. No matter who wins we will have a
very worthy new champion.

Things aren't as tidy in the fight for the women's title, although that is the nature of the middle of a
Swiss-system tournament. Anna Zatonskih lost to Rusa Goletiani in the final round and was knocked
completely out of the women's prizes despite leading the women's event most of the way and playing an
incredibly strong field.

Goletiani will now be in a playoff for the title against Tatev Abrahamyan, who was near the bottom of the
crosstable for most of the event. But the spirited Abrahamyan didn't lose heart and she won her last two
games to jump up to tie Goletiani with 4.5 points. The winner of the Goletiani-Abrahamyan playoff will
receive $12,500, the loser $9,200.

Goletiani (left) won the critical head-to-head contest against Zatonskih.

Irina Krush, who was leading the women's event going into the final round, lost a heartbreaking game to
defending US champ Alexander Shabalov. Krush, with black, was completely winning and could have put
Shabalov away with one move several times, as he said himself after the game. (31...Bxc2! in particular.)
Even at the very end had she run her king to d5 instead of f5 the game would have ended in a draw and she

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would be part of the playoff due to her vastly superior tiebreaks. But her king walked right into a spectacular
mating sacrifice that a sharpshooter like Shabalov doesn't miss and Krush had to settle for third place.

Krush (right) couldn't put Shabalov away.

From 64 the field has come down to four. The playoff works as follows: Two games at 25 minutes plus 10
seconds per move per player. If the match is tied there will be a final game at 7 minutes for white, 5 for
black plus 2 seconds per move, black having draw odds. That is, if black draws that final game it's like a
win, so white has to win.

Who will claim the trophies?

As if that weren't enough excitement, on Sunday morning there is a blitz tournament for the players with a
$2100 prize fund. It was organized and announced spontaneously Saturday evening so we're not sure who
will show up! We know Walter Browne rushed off to catch his flight back home right after the round.
Walter the blitz fanatic! We aren't sure we will be able to drag out of bed at 9:30 in the morning ourselves,
especially since it's 6am now and we don't have a shot at the $1000 first prize!

round 9 games annotated by international masters john watson and john donaldson with
commentary by the players

12.4.04

One of our Johns from our commentary team had to go back to the Mechanics Institute Chess Club for its
anniversary. IM Watson carried on with IM Jeremy Silman as able replacement. We expect IM Silman's

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annotated game by email in a day or two.

Goldin,A (2620) - Stripunsky,A (2533) [B01]
2005 US Chessmaster Championship San Diego (9), 04.12.2004
[IM John Watson]

The following annotations are based in large part on those by Stripunsky. 1.e4 d5 2.exd5 Qxd5 An opening
that we have seen quite often in this tournament. It seems to be primarily a way of avoiding the opponent's
preparation. Goldin is a d4 player, so with 1.e4 he probably expected a Paulsen Sicilian. Stripunsky wanted
to avoid that.

3.Nc3 Qd6 A move that has gotten some in the past few years. It was examined in a fascinating book by
Michael Melts. 4.d4 Nf6 5.Nf3 a6 An important choice. This move is the most popular but Melts makes a
good case for [5...c6] 6.Be3 A solid choice, but not a serious try for advantage. [6.g3 is the main move,
when Black can play 6...b5 (or 6...Nbd7 7.Bg2 b5!?) 7.Bg2 Bb7+/= with White slightly better.] 6...b5 7.Bd3
Bb7 8.0-0 Nbd7 9.Qe2 e6 10.Bg5 Be7 The game is equal.

11.a4 b4 12.Ne4 Qd5 [Stripunsky considered 12...Nxe4 13.Bxe4 Bxe4 14.Qxe4 0-0 15.Bf4 Qd5 16.Qxd5
exd5 to be equal, since 17.Bxc7 Rac8 is okay. But he decided to play for more.] 13.c4 bxc3 14.Nxc3 Qa5
15.Rad1 Rd8 [15...Bxf3? 16.Qxf3 Qxg5?? 17.Qxa8+ , but now that is threatened, so:] 16.Bh4 c5 17.Bb1
cxd4 18.Nxd4 Qb4 19.Bg3 0-0 20.Ba2 Diagram

Aiming at e6 for possible sacrifices. Now Stripunsky plays the move that makes this game special:
20...Bc5!? 21.Nb3 Ba7 !?! Black gives up the exchange. Of course, these days players give up the exchange
for two bishops and attack or positional advantage, but here White will have no weaknesses and all his
pieces are well-placed.

22.Bd6 Qh4 23.Bxf8 Rxf8 [23...Ng4? 24.Bd6 kills the attack.] 24.Qd3!? This is terribly logical, planning to
swing the queen over for defense. The machines (playing programs) suggest several ideas such as [24.Nd2
to return the knight to defense, but Black still has the initiative after 24...Ne5! intending 25.Qxe5 Bb8]
24...Ne5 25.Qg3 Qh5 26.Nd4! A strong recentralization. White is winning according to the computer.

26...Ng6! But it doesn't understand certain aspects of initiative, Now ...Bb8 and ...Nh4 are strong ideas, the
latter hitting g2. 27.h3!? [27.Bb1 looks logical, but 27...Nf4! is strong: 28.Qxf4 (28.f3? e5) 28...Bb8
29.Nxe6 Bxf4 30.Nxf4 Qg4 and White can't coordinate.] 27...Bb8 28.f4 Else ...Nf4.

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28...e5 29.fxe5 Bxe5 30.Qe3 [30.Qf2 Nh4!? puts pressure on g2 and gives plenty of compensation. (but not
30...Ng4? 31.Qxf7+! Rxf7 32.Rxf7 Kh8 33.Rxb7 wins.) ] 30...Ng4! Diagram

31.Qe2? A natural move that turns out badly. Better [31.hxg4 Qh2+ 32.Kf2 Bxg2!? (32...Qxg2+ 33.Ke1
Bg3+ 34.Rf2 Bh4!? is also interesting), when analysis between the players after the game led to no
conclusion except "unclear"!) ]

31...Bh2+ 32.Kh1 Qxh3! 33.Bd5! [The natural 33.Nd5 fails to 33...Qh5! (33...Qh4 34.Nf5 Qh5 35.Qxg4!
Qxg4 36.Nf6+ gxf6 37.Nh6+ and wins.) 34.Rf5 Qh4 35.g3 (35.Nf3 Nf2+) 35...Bxg3+ 36.Kg1 Nf4! and too
much hangs.]

33...Qh4?! [From now on both players are in time trouble. This time Black would be much better after
33...Qh5! 34.Rf5 Qh4 35.Nf3 but would have to be careful: 35...Qh6? (35...Nf2+ 36.Qxf2 Qxf2 37.Kxh2 will
win for Black but not quickly.) 36.Bxf7+! Kh8 (36...Rxf7 37.Qe8+ Rf8 38.Qe6+ Kh8 39.Rxf8+ Nxf8
40.Qxh6) 37.Bxg6 Bd6+ 38.Rh5!]

34.Nf5 Qh5 35.g3? [35.Bxf7+! Kh8 36.Bxg6 hxg6 37.Nxg7; 35.Ne7+ Kh8 36.Nxg6+ hxg6 and Black's
attack is too strong.] 35...Bxg3+ 36.Kg1 Bh2+ 37.Kg2 [37.Kh1 Nf4! 38.Rxf4 Bxf4+ 39.Kg1 Qxf5 40.Bxb7
Qc5+ 41.Kg2 Ne3+ etc.]

37...Bc8!? A great try, but after sober analysis not best. Black can win with [37...Bf4! threatening ...Qh2+ as
well as ...Qxf5. 38.Rh1 Qxf5 39.Bxb7 Ne3+ 40.Kg1 Qg5+ 41.Bg2 Nh4; 37...Nf4+! was also winning]
38.Bxf7+! Kh8 [38...Rxf7?? 39.Qe8+ Rf8 40.Ne7+] 39.Bxg6 hxg6 Diagram

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40.Nd6? A logical move, but bad. Black is now totally lost.

[Stripunsky and Goldin found 40.Nxg7! , after which the play gets wild: [It looks like analysis was meant to
go here but was left for a later time. John probably ran out of time. "Wild" is an understatement! It looks like
White is close to winning after 40.Nxg7. White keeps the exchange, although Black continues to have
attacking chances. Play is so sharp that either side could lose in an instant. This is the "best play" line that
the mighty computer worked out with plenty of time to think. -Mig]

40...Bb7+ (40...Kxg7?? 41.Qe7+ Kh6 42.Qxf8+ Kg5 43.Rd5+; 40...Qc5 41.Rxf8+ Qxf8 42.Qe8 Kxg7
43.Qxf8+ Kxf8 44.Rd8+ Ke7 45.Rxc8) 41.Ne4 Qe5 (41...Bxe4+ 42.Qxe4 Rxf1 43.Nxh5) 42.Rxf8+ Kxg7
43.Rd7+! Kxf8 44.Qf3+ Bf4 45.Rxb7]

40...Bxd6 41.Rxf8+ Bxf8 42.Rd8 Qh2+ 43.Kf3 Ne5+ 44.Ke3 [Goldin had hoped for 44.Qxe5 Qxe5
45.Rxf8+ , but even better for Black was simply 44...Bb7+ first.] 44...Qg3+ 0-1 Diagram

[44...Qg3+ 45.Kd2 (45.Ke4 Qh4+ and ...Qxd8.) 45...Qg5+ , Black picks up the rook. A wonderful game.]

12.4.04 –

Blogger: FM Michael Casella

First you get the money, then you get the power, then you get the women, then you get paired in the last
round with a member of the Cuban Mafia. However, I said say hello to my little friend 1..e5 and my
opponent decided to play the Vienna which he had never played before. I finished the game with a nice
attack and my opponent landed face down on the board.

round 9 pairings and results

Bd White Res Black
1 GM Hikaru Nakamura 1-0 GM Ildar Ibragimov
2 GM Alexander Goldin 0-1 GM Alex Stripunsky
3 GM Sergey Kudrin ½ GM Gregory Serper
4 GM Yury Shulman ½ GM Gata Kamsky
5 GM Gregory Kaidanov 1-0 IM Renier Gonzalez
6 GM Boris Gulko ½ GM Julio Becerra

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7 GM Alexander Onischuk 1-0 GM Dmitry Gurevich
8 GM Varuzhan Akobian ½ GM Aleks Wojtkiewicz
9 IM Eugene Perelshteyn 0-1 GM Joel Benjamin
10 GM Alex Yermolinsky 1-0 Salvijus Bercys
11 GM Larry Christiansen ½ IM Yury Lapshun
12 GM Alexander Fishbein 1-0 IM Dmitry Schneider
13 IM Levon Altounian ½ FM Lev Milman
14 IM Blas Lugo 0-1 GM Igor Novikov
15 GM Alexander Shabalov 1-0 IM Irina Krush (w)
16 FM Marcel Martinez 0-1 GM Alexander Ivanov
17 GM Nick DeFirmian 1-0 FM Joshua Friedel
18 FM Stephen Muhammad 0-1 IM Ben Finegold
19 FM Dmitry Zilberstein 0-1 IM Cyrus Lakdawala
20 IM Stanislav Kriventsov ½ IM Ron Burnett
21 GM Walter Browne 1-0 FM Matt Hoekstra
22 WGM Rusudan Goletiani (w) 1-0 WGM Anna Zatonskih (w)
23 FM Bruci Lopez 0-1 FM Michael Casella
24 FM Robby Adamson 0-1 WFM Tatev Abrahamyan (w)
25 IM Jesse Kraai ½ WIM Tsagaan Battsetseg (w)
26 FM Tegshuren Enkhbat 1-0 FM Fabio La Rota
27 GM Anatoly Lein 1-0 WIM Jennifer Shahade (w)
28 Jake Kleiman 0-1 Chouchanik Airapetian (w)
29 Tatiana Vayserberg (w) ½ WFM Laura Ross (w)
30 Iryna Zenyuk (w) 1-0 WIM Esther Epstein (w)
31 Vanessa West (w) 0-1 WFM Anna Levina (w)
32 WIM Anna Hahn (w) 1-0 WFM Olga Sagalchik (w)

Round 8 Review: Calm before the storm

12.4.04

Round eight was a calm before the storm of the final round. The leaderboard was left unchanged as leaders
Nakamura and Stripunsky both drew. Nakamura got nothing out of the opening against Goldin. Kudrin gave
it his best shot against Stripunsky, but after exchanges it boiled down to a draw.

Nakamura (left) got nowhere against Goldin.

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Ildar Ibragimov move into the pursuing pack when Miami IM Blas Lugo had a catastrophic hallucination in
their game and had to resign on move 16. He’d been considering a plan in which White played d3 (with the
pawn still on b2 of course). He would capture on c3 with check, put the queen on c7, and Black’s position is
fine. Ibragimov played b4 with the pawn still on d2.

Here Lugo captured on c3, leaving his queen en prise, because he
thought the capture on c3 was with check! As it was, Black got a
knight and rook for the queen, but White quickly organized an attack
and the black king was stuck in the center. Lugo, who needed to win
his last two games for a GM norm, resigned on move 16.

Irina Krush was the only one of the trio of leading ladies to gain a half
point in round eight and so moved into first place. She was winning
against Ben Finegold but couldn’t find the best moves in the tricky
endgame. Zatonskih, who is likely exhausted after the string of long,
tough games she has played against GMs, fell to her second
consecutive loss. Goletiani lost to Burnett.

In the final round Zatonskih and Goletiani, both with 3.5, face one another. Krush, on four points. has the
rather brutal test of black against Shabalov. 2004 women’s champion Jennifer Shahade is still in the mix. If
she beats GM Anatoly Lein she’d reach four points.

Things aren’t much clearer in the fight for the overall title. Nakamura has white against Ibragimov.
Stripunsky has black against Goldin. If Nakamura and Stripunsky both win they will face each other in a
rapid playoff. If only one of them wins he will be the new US Champion. If they both draw they could be
caught by Kudrin, Serper, or Shulman.

Yury Shulman is still in the hunt.

If more than two players tie for first place, the top two players by tiebreak system go to the rapid playoff
match. The same is true for the women’s title. The top two prizes are decided by the playoff (if there is a tie
for first.) Otherwise, the top five overall prizes are decided by tiebreak system. (Top three prizes for the
women’s title.) After that the prizes are shared among the point group. So players tied for 6th-10th evenly
divide the total prize money allocated for those positions. But third, fourth, and fifth are decided by tiebreak

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system. There are three of these, the second applying if the players are equal using the first system, etc.

The first tiebreak formula is “modified median” which is based on the scores of the players’ opponents,
dropping the two lowest scores. Second is the opponent’s scores including the lowest. These systems are
based on rewarding players for playing more successful opponents. Third is cumulative scoring, in which
you simply add up number of points the players had in each round. This rewards early success, since in this
tournament format players who have higher scores earlier almost always face stronger competition.

You can see the standings in order of these tiebreak on the second table on the crosstable page. Remember
that the second tiebreak formula is used only if the players are tied using the first formula. But of course
points come first! It doesn’t matter how strong your opponents are if you have fewer points than someone
else.

Anna Zatonskih has faced an incredibly strong field.

round 8 games annotated by international masters john watson and john donaldson with commentary
by the players

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Kamsky,G (2717) - DeFirmian,N (2550) [B53]
2005 US Chessmaster Championship San Diego (8), 03.12.2004

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Qxd4 A surprise. Kamsky undoubtely wanted to avoid DeFirmian's legendary
knowledge of the Najdorf. 4.Qxd4 has been used down through the years by a few advocates such as
Vasyukov (after whom the system was named) and Benko, but has never really caught on. Murray
Chandler's videos on Bb5 in the Sicilian also advocate 4.Qxd4. The only problem is that Nick has probably
faced it hundreds of times by players trying to avoid theory.

4...Nc6 5.Bb5 Bd7 6.Bxc6 Bxc6 7.Nc3 Nf6 8.Bg5 e6 9.0-0-0 Be7 Diagram

These moves have been played hundreds of times before. Now White usually continues with a plan
involving Kb1, Rhel, Qd2, and Nd4. Kamsky uses the same basic idea but with a slightly different method.
10.Qd3 0-0

Kamsky's earlier top-level experience with this line was in a blindfold game. It went 10...Qa5 11.h4 (11.Kb1
0-0 12.h4 Rac8 13.Nd4 Rfd8 14.f4 a6 15.f5 e5 16.Bxf6 Bxf6 17.Nde2 of Movsesian-Banas, Nat. Ch. Open
1995 contained ideas similar to the game) 11...0-0 12.Nd4 Rfc8 13.f4 (13.Bd2 Qc7 14.Rhe1 Nd7 15.h5 Nc5
16.Qg3 Bf6 led to a draw in a rapidplay game Polgar-Shirov, Monaco 1995) 13...Rab8 14.f5 b5!? 15.fxe6
fxe6 16.Kb1 (16.Nxe6! b4 17.Bxf6 Bxf6 18.Nd5) 16...b4 17.Nxc6 Rxc6 18.Ne2 with rough equality,
Kamsky-Shirov, Blindfold, Monaco 1995.]

11.Nd4 Qa5 [11...Rc8 is also played, a game Kaidanov-Kudrin, Modesto 1995 going 12.f4 Qc7 13.h4 Rfd8
14.Kb1 h6 15.f5 e5 16.Bxf6 Bxf6 17.Nxc6 bxc6 18.g4 Be7 19.g5 with attack.]

12.f4 Rfd8 13.f5 e5 Very committal. Another idea was [13...Qe5] 14.Nb3 Qc7 15.Bxf6 Bxf6 16.h4!
Diagram

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White has control over d5, but Black has the usual queenside attacking ideas of ...Rc8 and ...b5. So White
prepares g4-g5. 16...Rac8 17.Kb1 b5! 18.Nd2 [18.Nd5 Bxd5 and White can't capture with the queen.]
18...h5!? to stop g4-g5 but this is a bit risky.

19.Nd5 Qa5 [19...Bxd5 20.exd5 now prepares Ne4.] 20.g4! hxg4 21.Rhg1 Bxd5 22.exd5 Bxh4!? the idea
is to secure the kingside and follow up with ...Kf8-e7. 23.Rxg4 Bf6 24.Ne4 Kf8 25.Qf3! Rc4 [25...Ke7
26.Rxg7! Bxg7 (26...Qc7) 27.f6+ Kd7 28.fxg7 is too strong.]

26.c3 Qb6 27.b3 Rxe4? A daring but probably insufficient exchange sacrifice. He may have feared
something like [27...Rcc8 28.Rdg1 Ke7 29.Rxg7!? Bxg7 30.f6+ but this seems to fall short after 30...Kd7
31.Rxg7 Rf8]

28.Rxe4 Rc8 29.Kb2 Ke7 30.Rd2 Qc5 31.Qd3 a6 This looks fairly solid. Black has a pawn for the
exchange but his bishop on f6 is inactive. White has only one break but it's a good one. 32.Rc2 Qb6 33.a4
Rc5 Diagram

Still, what is White's plan? 34.b4! Rc7 35.a5! Kamsky wants to set up c4 and the creation of a passed pawn
on the queenside.

35...Qg1 36.c4 bxc4 37.Rcxc4 Rxc4 38.Qxc4 Qf2+ 39.Qc2!? A real surprise. White had an easier course
with [39.Re2 Qxf5 40.Qxa6 e4+ 41.Kb3! Qxd5+ 42.Qc4]

39...Qf1 [39...Qxf5 is met by 40.b5! axb5 41.a6 Qd7 42.Qc6] 40.Qc7+ Ke8 41.Qc6+ Ke7 42.b5 Qd3

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43.Qc7+ Ke8 44.Qc4 Qd2+ 45.Qc2 Qxd5 46.b6 This still looks dicey but the pawn on b6 is a monster.

46...Bd8 47.Qa4+ [47.Rc4!] 47...Ke7 48.Qb4 Kd7 49.Rc4 Ke7 50.b7 Bxa5 51.Qb3 Qd2+ 52.Rc2 The
pawn queens. A good positional effort. 1-0

12.3.04 –

Blogger: Jake Kleiman

Hello! Well, this has not been my best tournament, but I have enjoyed myself. It sure has been a real eye
opener. San Diego is a great city with beautiful landscape. Also, seeing the seals on the beach was one of the
most bizarre things. I want to say hello to everybody back at Rhodes and everyone in Memphis who is
watching. A special thanks to JE, IDW, and AAK.

Blogger: GM Susan Polgar

Hello to everyone! Hope you have all enjoyed many of the amazing games so far! This is a fantastic event!
Congratulations to the AF4C for organizing such a first-class Championship! It is my pleasure to be here and

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be part of the excitement! The AF4C organized an incredible reception for the 2004 US Women's Olympiad
Team this morning and all members of the team and captain took part in it.

Good luck to all the players and tomorrow will be a very exciting round! Thank you Erik and the AF4C!

Blogger: GM Hikaru Nakamura

Hello fellow chessplayers, fans! Today I managed to draw my game despite playing a totally crappy opening
and having absolutely no clue! Oh well....I am still tied for first! San Diego has been nice and I have had a
very good time here. Although I was sick at the beginning I managed to survive and have had a good
tournament. 1 more round to go! LATERZZZZZ

Blogger: FM Matt Hoekstra

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2005 US Chess Championship

So I climbed back to some sort of respectable score today, my game was very much an up and down affair. I
thought I had fantastic play out of the opening, and then all of sudden I was having some problems.
Fortunately he missed a tactic and I managed to win a somewhat complex endgame. Hello to all my fellow
conservatives (and a few moderates and elitist liberals). Can't wait to go back to Duke in a few days. Take
care everyone.

WFM Michael Casella

I thought I might get my first WIM norm, but unfortunately I was paired with Jake Kleiman. We played a
Slav-Moscow variation, which I'm sure Garry was watching avidly to see what improvement Casella would
come up with on Kasparov-Dreev played in the recent Russian championship. I almost played a queen
sacrifice in the middlegame, but instead sacrificed a pawn. When I got the Curdo rooks (rooks on e1 and d1
named after New England legend John Curdo), the win was in the bag and I am now top contender for the
3K David Bronstein brilliancy prize.

By the way, I find it hard to believe the rumor going around that the party on the other end of the infamous
Schneider phone call yesterday was a member of the Samford Committee calling to apologize to Dmitry for
awarding the prestigious award 2 years ago to Akobian instead of him.

With a good blog tomorrow, I might achieve my first GM blogging norm.

round 8 pairings and results

12.3.04 – Results are updated during the round. Under result, 1 is a win, 0 is a loss, and ½ means draw.

Bd White Res Black
1 GM Hikaru Nakamura ½ GM Alexander Goldin

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2 GM Sergey Kudrin ½ GM Alex Stripunsky
3 GM Gregory Serper ½ GM Yury Shulman
4 GM Joel Benjamin ½ GM Gregory Kaidanov
5 GM Aleks Wojtkiewicz ½ GM Boris Gulko
6 IM Renier Gonzalez ½ GM Alexander Onischuk
7 GM Ildar Ibragimov 1-0 IM Blas Lugo
8 GM Julio Becerra ½ GM Varuzhan Akobian
9 GM Gata Kamsky 1-0 GM Nick DeFirmian
10 GM Igor Novikov 0-1 IM Eugene Perelshteyn
11 Salvijus Bercys 1-0 GM Alexander Shabalov
12 GM Alex Yermolinsky ½ FM Lev Milman
13 GM Larry Christiansen ½ GM Alexander Fishbein
14 GM Dmitry Gurevich 1-0 FM Dmitry Zilberstein
15 GM Alexander Ivanov ½ IM Stanislav Kriventsov
16 IM Ben Finegold ½ IM Irina Krush (w)
17 WGM Anna Zatonskih (w) 0-1 IM Levon Altounian
18 IM Cyrus Lakdawala ½ FM Joshua Friedel
19 IM Yury Lapshun 1-0 FM Robby Adamson
20 IM Dmitry Schneider 1-0 GM Walter Browne
21 IM Ron Burnett 1-0 WGM Rusudan Goletiani (w)
22 FM Matt Hoekstra 1-0 IM Jesse Kraai
23 FM Tegshuren Enkhbat 0-1 FM Stephen Muhammad
24 FM Fabio La Rota 0-1 FM Marcel Martinez
25 WIM Jennifer Shahade (w) ½ FM Bruci Lopez
26 WIM Tsagaan Battsetseg (w) 1-0 GM Anatoly Lein
27 FM Michael Casella 1-0 Jake Kleiman
28 WFM Tatev Abrahamyan (w) 1-0 WIM Anna Hahn (w)
29 Chouchanik Airapetian (w) ½ WFM Laura Ross (w)
30 WIM Esther Epstein (w) ½ Vanessa West (w)
31 WFM Anna Levina (w) 0-1 Tatiana Vayserberg (w)
32 WFM Olga Sagalchik (w) 0-1 Iryna Zenyuk (w)

round 7 review: Nakamura on the March

12.2.04

There were several oddities during round seven, but nothing should deflect attention from the heated chase
for the title and the $25,000 first prize. IM Dmitry Schneider was forfeited on move 33 against Akobian
when his cell phone rang at the board. This is a rather draconian policy, but the zero-tolerance is intended to
make it clear that the ubiquitous devices should be left outside the playing hall.

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This Nokia Gambit was popularized by former FIDE world champion Ruslan
Ponomariov last year when he was forfeited at the European Team Championship
when his phone rang. It was his birthday and someone was calling to congratulate
him! (In another case, an opponent of Nakamura's fell victim to his phone last
year.)

Poor Dmitry (left, safely in the media room) took the loss with admirably good
spirits. In his blog entry he said Akobian was winning already and deserved the
full point. Schneider is attempting to gain a Grandmaster norm, one of the
tournament results needed to gain the highest title.

The other oddity was performed by three-time US champ Larry Christiansen against IM Stephen
Muhammad. At the end of the game Christiansen promoted a pawn to a knight, a fairly rare occurrence in
tournament chess. How rare? As far as we can tell it's the first time ever in the 1600+ Christiansen games we
have in our database! Often players do it just for fun when there is no practical difference between
promoting to a knight or a queen.

Here it was the best move (preventing Ng2+) and a winning one,
although it's likely White would have resigned soon even had Black
taken a queen instead. In the diagram Black played 66...e1N+! 67.Kc3
Bd4+ White resigned. If 68.Kxd4 Nf3+ forks king and rook.

[The underpromotion seems to have caused our live game reader some
confusion. I have the scoresheet in front of me and the correct finish is as
given above. We'll get it fixed in the viewer. -Mig]

16-year-old Grandmaster Hikaru Nakamura took a big step toward
becoming the youngest US Champion since Bobby Fischer today. He
beat one of the tournament favorites with the black pieces in a complicated battle. Kamsky and Onischuk
have the big international ratings, but many of the GMs in the tournament were tipping Kentucky
Grandmaster Gregory Kaidanov as the favorite. He had been in excellent form, scoring an amazing six wins
and no losses for the US Olympiad team in Calvia, Spain.

Kaidanov - Nakamura

For a while it looked like Kaidanov would use the advantage of the white pieces to good effect against
Nakamura's risky Grunfeld Defense. Even Nakamura, blogging after the game, admitted he thought he was

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2005 US Chess Championship

in trouble after the first dozen moves. But when Kaidanov started to slip, Nakamura pounced and grabbed
the initiative. (17.c6 looks very strong for White.) The Grunfeld, like the Sicilian, is one of those sharp
defenses in which unless you are better, you are worse.

Nakamura kept the pressure on until Kaidanov gave up a pawn on move 32. Nakamura showed formidable
technique in converting his material advantage and controlling White's counterplay in the endgame.
Stripunsky had played a 15-move draw against Shulman on board one, so Nakamura caught up to create a
tie for first. In round eight Nakamura will have white against the experienced Alexander Goldin and
co-leader Alex Stripunsky will have black against Sergey Kudrin.

Kudrin, the early leader, got back into the action by beating Lev Milman with his favored Dragon Sicilian.
Milman was actually fine coming out of the opening, but couldn't hold a pawn-down endgame. In the latest
Alex vs. Alex match (or the GoldFish match), Goldin sent Fishbein to his second straight loss and out of title
contention. It would have ended a little quicker had Goldin found the pretty 41...Rd1+!

Goldin (right) won his second straight by beating Fishbein.

Gata Kamsky's board always gets a lot of attention from the fans. Nor are his opponents ignorant of his
former stature as one of the world's elite players. Many of the lower-rated players he has faced have seemed
keen to be at their most solid and Kamsky hasn't been able to generate winning chances in just about any of
his games.

Today he played a dubious pawn sacrifice against IM Blas Lugo and was likely saved only by a timely draw
offer. You might have a good position, but with only 20 seconds on your clock against a former world
championship challenger it's hard not to take the draw! The Miami chess club president would have had
good winning chances had he continued the game with 31.Bf2 Qb7 32.f6! threatening to infiltrate on h7.

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2005 US Chess Championship

IM Blas Lugo (left) had his chances against Kamsky.

It seems like every other round the women's leaders get walloped only to take revenge and move up the next
day. Today was the walloping. Leaders Anna Zatonskih and Rusa Goletiani both lost, although in very
different ways. Zatonskih, who has been in the lead for the entire event, lost explosively in only 21 moves to
Alexander Onischuk. He played a sharp opening and she tried to play just as aggressively, not usually wise
when you have black.

Goletiani spent 77 moves being ground down by Aleks Wojkiewicz. Both women stayed at 3.5 and were
caught by Irina Krush, who defeated Tatev Abrahamyan. Defending champion Jennifer Shahade finally
came up for air and scored her first win since round two, beating Iryna Zenyuk.

WGM Rusa Goletiani

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New In Chess magazine editor-in-chief Dirk Jan ten Geuzendam chats with fellow new arrival GM Susan
Polgar. Unfortunately she didn't come to play, but to appear at a reunion to honor the silver-medal-winning
women's Olympiad team she led in Spain a few months ago. Teammates Zatonskih, Krush, and Shahade are
playing in the Championship.

It's hard to see in the photo, but defending champion Alexander Shabalov's pen lights up when he writes. At
least it doesn't ring...

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round 7 games annotated by international masters john watson and john donaldson with commentary
by the players

Kraai,J (2425) - Novikov,I (2588) [B85]
2005 US Chessmaster Championship San Diego (7), 02.12.2004
[IMs Donaldson and Watson]

This deceptively short game is one of those contests where the characteristic themes of the Sicilian Defense
are pitted against one another until a few dynamic moves decide the contest.

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Be2 Originally this was a fairly slow system, but Kraai
plays a line that invests it with energy. 6...e6 7.f4 Qc7 8.0-0 Be7 9.Be3 0-0 10.g4!? Diagram

The most critical continuation, throwing caution to the winds. 10...Re8 sometimes 10...Nfd7 is played first,
but 11.g5 Re8 transposes. [10...d5!? has been played a fair amount with reasonable results, e.g., 11.exd5
(11.e5 Ne4) 11...Nxd5 12.Nxd5 exd5 13.Bf3 Rd8 14.Qd2 Nc6 15.Rad1 Bd7 16.Qg2 Bf6! 17.f5!? Re8
18.Bf2 Nxd4 19.Bxd4 Bb5 and Black went on to win in Mista-Movsesian, Czech Rep 2004.]

11.g5 Nfd7 12.Bd3 Moves like 12.f5 and 12.Bh5!? have lost their appeal. The main alternative is [12.a4
Nc6 (12...Bf8 13.Qe1 g6 14.Qh4 Bg7 15.Rf3 Nc6 16.Rd1 b6 17.Nxc6 Qxc6 18.Rh3 Nf8 with equality,
Short-Niemandt, Pretoria 2001.) 13.Bg4 Nb6 14.b3 Bf8 15.Nde2 g6 16.Qd2 Bd7 17.Rad1 Rac8 with a
complex game, Short-Jonker, Pretoria 2001.]

12...Bf8 13.Qh5 g6 [A famous game Kasparov-Anand, Moscow 1996 went 13...Nc6 14.Rf3 g6 15.Qh4 Bg7
16.Nde2 b5 (later games saw 16...f5 ) 17.Rh3 Nf8 18.f5 Ne5 19.f6 Bh8 20.a3 with massive complications.]

14.Qh4 b5!? This order gains a key tempo in several lines. Novikov has great knowledge of the openings,
although his idea in this game is perhaps too extreme. [14...Bg7 has been played several times with good
results for White after 15.Rf3 Nc6 16.Nde2! followed by Rh3 and Rf1.]

15.a3 Bb7 16.Rf3 Bg7 17.Rh3 Nf8 This is Black's basic setup. White has to move quickly if he is to prevent
the smooth development of Black's pieces, after which the whole Qh5, Rh3 placement might look awkward.
18.f5! [18.Rf1 Nbd7 19.f5 is also possible.] 18...exf5!? 19.exf5 Bxd4!? Diagram

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Black has made two moves that might be considered anti-positional, not to mention dangerous. Giving up
his dark square bishop and defender of his kingside is especially radical. Apparently Novikov wants to win
at all costs to repair his position in the tournament.

20.Bxd4 Now Qh6 is threatened with disaster for Black. 20...Qc6 The point, although a one-move threat
seems very little to achieve from Black's concessions.

21.Bf1?! It's hard to argue with such a logical move except that these positions are decided by concrete
variations and the players need to invest a great deal of thinking time to find precise moves. [The machines
like 21.Rg3!! , and if 21...Qh1+ (21...Nbd7? 22.Qh6 Ne5 23.Ne4!) 22.Kf2 Qxa1 23.Rg1! with the idea
23...Qxb2 (23...Qxg1+ 24.Kxg1 Nbd7 25.Be4! Bxe4 26.Nxe4 and Nxh6 or Qh6 will prove to be devastating.)
24.Nd5! threatening the queen and Nf6+.]

21...Nbd7 22.Rd1? [Now 22.Qh6?? Ne5! 23.Bxe5? loses to 23...Qb6+ 24.Bd4 Qxd4+ 25.Re3 Qxe3#; but
22.f6 Ne5 23.Kf2 is relatively solid. Black defends against Qh6 by ...Ng4+. On the other hand he has few
concrete threats.]

22...Ne5 23.fxg6!? This move opens the f-file, but White had to go on the defensive in any case. 23...fxg6
24.a4?! White underestimates Novikov's threat. [However, 24.Qg3 Nf3+ 25.Qxf3 Qxf3 26.Rxf3 Bxf3 isn't
much fun, and; 24.Kf2 Re7 uses that open f-file while protecting h7.] 24...Nf3+ 25.Rxf3 Qxf3 26.axb5
axb5 27.Bf6 Diagram

27...Ra4! 28.Nxa4 Re2! A cute finish: Black threatens ...Qh1 mate, and [28...Re2 29.Bxe2 allows

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29...Qg2#] 0-1

Altounian,Levon (2456) - Lapshun,Yury (2461) [D11]
2005 US Chessmaster Championship San Diego (7), 02.12.2004
[IMs Donaldson and Watson]

1.Nf3 Thanks to Yury Lapshun and Levon Altounian for their help in explaining what was going on in this
game. 1...d5 2.d4 Nf6 3.c4 c6 4.Qc2 g6 [4...dxc4 5.Qxc4 Bf5 was seen earlier in the tournament in the
games Wojtkiewicz- Zatonskih and Wojtkiewicz-Kamsky. The text can lead to very sharp positions if Black
plays as he does in the game.]

5.Bf4 Na6 [5...Bg7 is solid the text is a prelude to chaos.] 6.e3 Bf5 7.Qb3 White attacks b7 and you might
reasonably expect a move like 7...Qb6 but...

7...Nb4 This thunderbolt was first seen in the game Epishin-Kupreichik, USSR 1989, whether it is good or
not is an open question. 8.Qxb4 e5 9.Qxb7 Rb8 This move, removing the Queen from b7, is considered
essential although Black did win with9...exf4 in the game Novikov-Lapshun, New York Masters 2002 after
a wild fight.

10.Qxc6+ [10.Qxa7 exf4 was seen in Chiong-Lapshun, Pennsylvania 2002. If you think that Yury has a lot
of experience with this variation (7...Nb4) you are right. Defending US Champion Alex Shabalov has also
used it several times.] 10...Bd7 11.Qa6 [11.Qxf6 Qxf6 12.Bxe5 is the main alternative where White
sacrifices his Queen for a bunch of material.] 11...exf4 12.c5 fxe3 13.fxe3 Bh6 14.Nc3 Bxe3 Diagram

This appears to be a new move, found over the board by Lapshun. [14...0-0 15.Be2 Rxb2 (15...Bxe3 16.Nd1
Bf4 17.0-0+/-) 16.Nd1 Rb8 17.Ne5 Ne4 18.0-0 and White had consolidated and went on to win in
Meins-Schaller, Germany 2000.]

15.c6? This looks very tempting and was prepared by Altounian in his pregame preparation but [15.Qd6!
appears to be a bonecrusher as 15...Rxb2? loses to 16.Qe5+ Qe7 17.Qxe7+ Kxe7 18.Nd1] 15...Be6 The only
move as [15...Bf5 loses to 16.c7 winning a piece.]

16.Qxa7 Qd6! This move is a very good practical try. 17.c7?! This is what Altounian looked at shortly
before the game and concluded that White was winning. Maybe, but things are messy. [17.Bb5 was much
safer.] 17...Rxb2 18.Qa4+ Ke7 19.Nb5 If the Queen had to move Black would be in trouble but....

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19...Ra8! This tips the tables. Now Black is winning. 20.Nxd6 [20.Qxa8 Qb4+ 21.Kd1 Rd2+ 22.Nxd2
Qxd2# mate!] 20...Rxa4 21.Bb5 Although he is lost Levon puts up maximum resistance. 21...Ra8 22.Bc6
Diagram

22...Ra6! [22...Rf8 was not as clear.] 23.c8Q Bxc8 24.Nxc8+ Kd8?! This wins back the piece and is still
winning but after [24...Ke6! White doesn't get the f7 pawn and doesn't have any chance to resist.] 25.Nd6
Rxc6? [25...Ke7! 26.Nc8+ Ke6 still wins.] 26.Nxf7+ Ke7?! [26...Kc8 is better as soon will become clear.]

27.N7e5 Rcc2 28.Nd3 Rxa2 29.Rxa2 Rxa2 30.Kf1 Ne4 31.Nb4 Black is still winning but Levon continues
to fight. With the Black King on c8 the d5 pawn would not fall with check. 31...Rf2+ 32.Ke1 Nc3
[32...Kd6] 33.Nd3 Rxg2 34.h4 Ra2 35.Kf1 Ne2 36.Rh3 Diagram

36...Nf4? This might be the last mistake that spoils the win. [36...Nxd4] 37.Nxf4 Bxf4 38.Ng1 Bh6 39.Ne2
Bg7 40.Rb3 Ke6?! [40...Ra7 41.Rb5 Kd6 42.Nc3 Rf7+ 43.Ke2 Rf5 44.Ke3 Rh5 allows Black to continue
but with no clear way to realize his material advantage. Look at the progress White has made compared to
the beginning of the ending where he was just completely lost.]

41.Rb7 Bh6 42.Rxh7 A gave with many mistakes, but a great fight nonetheless. 1/2-1/2

12.2.04 –

blogger: GM Hikaru Nakamura

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Hello everyone! Today I managed to win my game against Kaidanov after a difficult struggle. After a
complicated opening Kaidanov started to err in the middlegame with 17.Qb4. If he had played 17.c6 instead
he was slightly better. So after the win today I am now tied for first place with Stripunsky. :-) Anywayzzzz
...big shout out to family, friends, and the ICC hooligans. Peace out.

Blogger: IM Dmitry Schneider

Well, at least I was losing. Having a phone ring to end a game is definitely not very satisfying and very
frustrating. My opponent deserved to win though, he played very well until he mixed up the move order with
Bxf6? instead of Nxe6 and only then Bxf6. Afterwards, I had a chance to draw but in time pressure didn't
play well and by now most of you know about the phone fiasco. Now need 2/2 for the norm. I want to say
hello to my family, friends and all those people following my games and rooting for me, thanks!
Tommorow, I'll try to do better.

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2005 US Chess Championship

Blogger: IM Blas Lugo

After a very complicated game against GM Gata Kamsky the draw was agreed.I would like to thank
everyone in Miami FL who is following the whole cuban mafia.Also to our friends from "Los Mongoliches"
(ya sea en Los Angeles o West Palm Beach). Most of us still conserve chances for norms of GM's of IM's so
keep us wishing us luck.The game today was dedicated to my wife and coming-daughter Dalila Caissa
Lugo.

Blogger: Vanessa West

Hello all! Bad loss today...worst of all my opponent was an old guy. I basically wasted all my time on like
the 11th move and then wondered why I was in time trouble later. But enough about chess, at least now I
have plenty of time for my evil plot of world domination...opps, pretend you didn't read that.

Blogger: FM Michael Casella

Bad Bad Walter Browne is not having a good tournament, but I tried to do my part to make doubly sure he
did not need to change his license plate from Ol6TIME to Ol7TIME. Unfortunately, he punished my
impertinent intentions in typical Brownean style. The Australian-born GM-turned-poker-player had way
more time than usual to finish me off.

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2005 US Chess Championship

Blogger: GM Alex Onischuk

Hello from San Diego. This has been a tough tournament for me, one of the most difficult in my life. The
chess has been tough. In the second and third round I didn't get any play at all. Against Becerra we were in
his preparation until the last move and I had to find it all on the board. In the third round my opponent
played the exchange line and I couldn't do much to win such a position. After that I lost to Fishbein, so it
was a terrible start.

Today I played okay and the game was interesting. Maybe Anna was too optimistic. She wanted to play
fighting chess, but maybe went to far and overlooked something.

[When asked about leading the US Men's Olympiad team.] In the Olympiad I had a normal result. I was on
first board and my job was to hold, not necessarily to win. My opponents tried to beat me and I got chances.
Here it seems that many want to draw me; they play very solid with both colors. It's normal, but frustrating.
In only nine rounds it's hard to recover from a bad start.

Blogger: IM Eugene Perelshteyn

Page 32 / 104
2005 US Chess Championship

Hi Everyone! I'd like to say thanks to the organizers for organizing a great tournament. San Diego is a great
city! Hello to all my family and friends. The tournament is going well, I am enjoying both chess and the
weather. Two more rounds to go, keep cheering for me!!

Akobian (left) - Schneider, before the bell tolled.

round 7 pairings and results

Bd White Res Black
1 GM Alex Stripunsky ½ GM Yury Shulman
2 GM Gregory Kaidanov 0-1 GM Hikaru Nakamura
3 GM Boris Gulko ½ GM Gregory Serper
4 GM Alexander Fishbein 0-1 GM Alexander Goldin
5 GM Julio Becerra ½ GM Ildar Ibragimov
6 GM Joel Benjamin ½ IM Renier Gonzalez
7 FM Lev Milman 0-1 GM Sergey Kudrin
8 IM Blas Lugo ½ GM Gata Kamsky
9 GM Alexander Shabalov ½ GM Dmitry Gurevich
10 GM Alexander Onischuk 1-0 WGM Anna Zatonskih (w)

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2005 US Chess Championship

11 GM Varuzhan Akobian 1-0 IM Dmitry Schneider*
12 GM Nick DeFirmian ½ Salvijus Bercys
WGM Rusudan Goletiani
13 0-1 GM Aleks Wojtkiewicz
(w)
14 IM Eugene Perelshteyn ½ FM Dmitry Zilberstein
15 IM Jesse Kraai 0-1 GM Igor Novikov
16 FM Marcel Martinez 0-1 GM Alex Yermolinsky
17 FM Joshua Friedel IM Ben Finegold
18 FM Stephen Muhammad 0-1 GM Larry Christiansen
19 IM Levon Altounian ½ IM Yury Lapshun
20 FM Robby Adamson ½ IM Cyrus Lakdawala
21 GM Anatoly Lein 0-1 GM Alexander Ivanov
22 GM Walter Browne 1-0 FM Michael Casella
23 IM Stanislav Kriventsov 1-0 Jake Kleiman
WFM Tatev Abrahamyan
24 IM Irina Krush (w) 1-0
(w)
WIM Tsagaan Battsetseg
25 0-1 IM Ron Burnett
(w)
26 WIM Anna Hahn (w) 0-1 FM Tegshuren Enkhbat
27 FM Bruci Lopez 1-0 WFM Anna Levina (w)
28 WFM Laura Ross (w) 0-1 FM Matt Hoekstra
29 Vanessa West (w) 0-1 FM Fabio La Rota
30 Iryna Zenyuk (w) 0-1 WIM Jennifer Shahade (w)
31 Tatiana Vayserberg (w) 0-1 Chouchanik Airapetian (w)
32 WFM Olga Sagalchik (w) 0-1 WIM Esther Epstein (w)

*Player was forfeited when his cellular phone rang at the board.

round 6 review: Miami 5-0!

12.1.04

With three rounds to play, GM Alex Stripunsky stepped up and stomped all over his fellow Alex to take
over clear first place. Neither Stripunsky or Alex Fishbein collected many votes in our first-round poll to
predict the highest-placed Alexander in the field. But now one is at the very top and the other is currently in
silver-medal position in the Alex Olympics despite this loss.

With so many Alexanders running around it's a wonder Colin Farrell isn't here somewhere. Unfortunately,
San Diego declined our suggestion to rename the city "Alexandria” for the week. Goldin is still in the hunt at
+2 (meaning two more wins than losses) while favorites Onischuk and Shabalov have slim title chances with
+1.

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2005 US Chess Championship

1.e4 worked well for Stripunsky (left) against Fishbein.

There is a high-powered pack of non-Alexes a half-point behind Stripunsky. Gregory Kaidanov beat Kudrin
and Shulman took out defending champion Shabalov. Hikaru Nakamura has been stalled with two draws in a
row, this one coming against Gregory Serper. Gata Kamsky pressed for a long time against Joel Benjamin
but couldn't find a win. Finally the rook endgame ended when Benjamin claimed a three-fold repetition.

The Serper-Nakamura game has to go down as one of more bizarre things we've seen on a chessboard in a
while. Serper set up a solid symmetrical formation and on move 17 he started moving his bishop back and
forth between d2 and e1. For NINE MOVES IN A ROW! It's ten if you don't count the inclusion of Ng3 on
move 16.

Serper (left) didn't get a short day against Nakamura.

Was there a method to his madness? We may never know if this was an odd way offer a draw, a strange way
to gain time on the clock, or a brilliant try to get Nakamura to create weaknesses in his position. Whatever it
was, Nakamura ignored it and expanded on the queenside, eventually breaking through. But there was no
way to gain a decisive advantage in the position and despite pressing for 94 moves (!), Nakamura finally had
to give up the half point. To top it off, it finished in a stalemate after Serper played a cute piece sacrifice to
create a book draw fortress. Time will tell if Nakamura has all the qualities of a world champion, but it's
already clear the teen has the tenacity of a world-beater.

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2005 US Chess Championship

Computer chess fans were horrified by White's knight sacrifice to secure
the draw because computers don't understand fortress positions. They
don't comprehend "never” so they are delighted to have an extra piece in
this position.

That the white king can never be ejected from h1 without giving
stalemate is beyond the computer's calculation horizon. It will happily
move its bishop and king around in circles and only realize that a draw
is forced when the three-time repetition of position (or the 50-move
rule) is in its horizon.

Gregory Kaidanov has been one of the top players in the US for years
but has never won the US title. He took a step toward it by beating leader Sergey Kudrin in a steady grind.
He was joined by Yury Shulman, who absorbed Shabalov's sacrifice and brought home the point. That
dropped Shabalov back to +1.

Kaidanov (right) was the one to finally stop Kudrin.

The talk of the round was the remarkable whitewash put up by the Cuban quintet from Miami. They all won,
and they all won with the black pieces! Gonzalez beat Novikov in a complicated game. Becerra made short
work of Yermolinsky's risky opening play. Lugo was gifted the full point by Ivanov with a horrible blunder
on move 22. 22.Rce1 Rc8 23.Qb6 Rf4 with a lot of game ahead was better. Martinez beat Hoekstra in a
back-and-forth battle. Lopez won a piece and beat Airapetian to complete the sweep. And it was right before
the off day so they could really do some celebrating when they went down to Tijuana that night!

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2005 US Chess Championship

Miami 5-0! Becerra, Lopez, Lugo, Gonzalez, Martinez

After several discreet rounds, there was again action in the women's title fight. Rusa Goletiani allowed
Kriventsov to trap his own rook on b5 and calmly collected the piece and the point. She is joined at +1 with
3.5 by Anna Zatonskih, who won her first game since round one. She benefited from what a distraught
Walter Browne called "maybe the worst blunder of my career!” and won in 20 moves. In the final position if
Black moves his queen away then 21.Qxf7+! leads to checkmate. Ouch. Both Rusa and Anna came in to
blog after their wins.

Irina Krush lost to Perelshteyn and Finegold beat Battsetseg, so there is a one-point gap between the leaders
and the rest. 2003 women's champ Anna Hahn got an excellent position with black against Yury Lapshun's
bizarre opening play, but he bamboozled her in time trouble and won with a smashing attack. The start was
1.b4 d5 2.Bb2 Bg4 3.Qc1. You can read more about it in Yury's blog entry.

Milman (right) beat Christiansen. Goletiani waits for Kriventsov.

Another item of interest covered in the blog is how Casella – Zenyuk followed a Shirov-Radjabov game for
33 moves! In Linares this year Shirov played a spectacular sacrifice to have just two pawns for a rook, but
with queen and rook against Black's open king. Shirov went on to get queen and pawns versus two rooks
and win. The subsequent analysis showed that Black probably could have defended and so Zenyuk went
ahead and followed the same path, although the position is incredibly difficult for Black. Casella

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2005 US Chess Championship

demonstrated this and duly won. 33 moves of memorization on board 28...

There is at least one marathon game in every round, which makes the webmaster so happy he could just
scream. This time it was Zilberstein-Akobian to go past move 100 and keep us all waiting. It came down to
two rooks vs queen and Akobian was checking White's king around with his rooks. Zilberstein claimed a
repetition draw, which was at first upheld and then quickly refused when it was discovered it wasn't a
three-fold! So the clock was started again and Akobian checked with his rook again and Zilberstein claimed
the repetition again, this time correctly!

GM Varuzhan Akobian had no other plans for the night!

Josh Friedel (right) moved up with a win over Fabio La Rota.

round 6 games annotated by international masters john watson and john donaldson with commentary
by the players

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2005 US Chess Championship

Hoekstra,M (2369) - Martinez,M (2383)
2005 US Chessmaster Championship San Diego (6), 30.11.2004
[IMs Donaldson and Watson]

1.d4 g6 2.c4 Nf6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 0-0 5.Be2 d6 6.Bg5 c5 7.d5 h6 8.Bf4 e6 Introducing a dynamic pawn
sacrifice that gives Black the initiative. 9.dxe6 Bxe6 10.Qd2 Kh7 11.Bxd6 Re8 12.e5

[12.Nf3 Qb6! 13.e5 Nfd7 is difficult for White, for example, 14.0-0 Nc6 15.Na4 Qa6 16.b3 Bg4 17.Nxc5
Nxc5 18.Bxc5 Nxe5 19.Nxe5 Bxe2 20.Qxe2 Bxe5 and Black won the exchange in Melzer-Schmitt, Baden
1992.]

12...Nfd7 13.f4 f6 An interesting deviation from the main line with [13...Nc6 and ...f6 soon. White has less
time to reorganize.] 14.Nf3 fxe5 15.fxe5 Nc6 16.Qf4! Diagram

A good move that forces Black to simplify. [16.0-0-0 Ncxe5! 17.Nxe5 Nxe5 18.Bxc5 Qc8! and Black is
better, for example, 19.Bd4 Bxc4! 20.Bxc4 Qxc4 21.Kb1 Rad8 etc. This shows Black's dynamic
possibilities.] 16...Ndxe5! 17.Bxe5 [17.0-0-0 Nxf3 18.Bxf3 Qa5 and Black has an excellent attack.]

17...Nxe5 18.Nxe5 Qd4! The key move; Black regains his piece and retains his bishop pair. 19.Nxg6! [After
19.Nd3 , 19...Bxc4 20.0-0-0 Bxd3 21.Qxd4 cxd4 22.Bxd3 dxc3 and Black has the better chances although
the opposite colored bishops give good possibilities for a draw.]

19...Kxg6! A winning try. Otherwise after [19...Bxc4 20.Rd1 Qxc3+ 21.bxc3 Rxe2+ 22.Kf1 Re4+ 23.Kf2
Rxf4+ 24.Nxf4 the game will probably end in a draw.] 20.Qg3+ Kh7 [The other try is 20...Bg4 21.Rd1!
Be5! 22.Qxg4+ Qxg4 23.Bxg4 Bxc3+ 24.Kf2 Bxb2 25.Rd6+ Kg5 26.Be2 Bd4+ , but this probably isn't
enough to win.]

21.Rd1 Qf6!? [21...Qe5 22.Qxe5 Bxe5 23.0-0 Bd4+ 24.Kh1 Bxc3 is objectively equal but offers no chances
to win. Martinez continues to play fighting moves even when he risks some trouble doing so.] 22.Rf1
[22.Bd3+!? Bf5+ 23.Kd2 is a typical computer sequence: 23...Rad8 24.Kc1 Bxd3 25.Rxd3 Rd4!? with a
small edge for White.] 22...Qe5 23.Rf4 [23.Qd3+ Kg8 24.g3! Bh3!? produces complications.]

23...Kh8 24.Rd3 Bg8!? Again, [24...Rad8 is objectively more accurate but exchanges pieces.] 25.Rd7 Re7
26.Rxe7 Qxe7 27.Nd5?! [27.Re4! was more ambitious and would have given White the advantage. Nd5
wastes time.] 27...Qe5 28.b3? Diagram

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2005 US Chess Championship

[He had to retreat by 28.Nc3!, but that's hard to admit. Presumably both players were short of time. 28.Nc3 ]
28...Re8 Now White's in big trouble. There's no safe place for his king. 29.Qf3 Qa1+ 30.Kf2 Bd4+ 31.Kg3
[31.Rxd4 Qxd4+ won't last long.] 31...Qe1+ 32.Kh3 Qxe2 A dynamic game by Martinez, and one of the 5
wins by Cuban players as Black in this round! 0-1

Yermolinsky,Alex (2568) - Becerra,Julio (2537) [D44]
2005 US Chessmaster Championship San Diego (6), 30.11.2004
[IMs Donaldson and Watson; GM Becerra]

1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 e6 5.Bg5 dxc4 Black goes for the Botvinnik Variation, which can lead to
some of the most complicated positions in chess. 6.e4 b5 7.e5 Alex Yermolinsky likes the challenge of
playing the White side of the Botvinnik and has enjoyed great success. 7...h6 8.Bh4 g5 9.Nxg5 hxg5
10.Bxg5 Be7 Diagram

This variation, which first came to attention in the Kasparov-Smyslov match in 1984, has never really
caught on, 10..Nbd7 being the main line... 11.exf6 Bxf6 12.Be3 [The other move in the position is 12.Bxf6
when 12...Qxf6 13.g3 leads to an interesting position after 13...Bb7 14.Bg2 Na6 15.Nxb5 cxb5 16.Bxb7
Nb4! Blaclk threatens 17....Nd3+ and on 17.0-0 Rd8 I like Black's active pieces - JB] 12...Nd7

[12...Bb7 13.Ne4 Na6 14.Nxf6+ Qxf6 15.Qd2 0-0-0 16.Bg5 Qf5 17.Bxd8 Rxd8 18.Qc3 c5 19.dxc5 Nxc5
20.f3 b4 21.Qe3 Nd3+ 22.Bxd3 Rxd3 23.Qh6 Qe5+ 24.Kf2 Qxb2+ 25.Kg3 Rd8 26.Qg5 f6 27.Rab1 Qd4

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28.Qg7 Qe5+ 29.Kh3 Qh5+ 30.Kg3 Qe5+ 31.Kh3 Qh5+ 1/2-1/2 Vyzmanavin,A-Ivanchuk,V/Irkutsk
1986/TD]

13.Qf3 Attacking c6 and b5 but the alternative [13.g3 looks better 13...Bb7 14.Bg2 Qc7 15.Qf3 0-0-0 16.0-0
c5 17.Ne4 Bxe4 18.Qxe4 cxd4 19.Bxd4 Bxd4 20.Qxd4 Ne5 leads to an unbalanced position where Black
plays on the dark-squared squares because White has a white-squared Bishop. JB] 13...Bb7 Diagram

14.Nxb5 [14.g3 again looks safer. The text wins a pawn but at the expense of development.] 14...Qa5+
15.Nc3 0-0-0 Now all of Black's pieces are developed and he is ready to open the game with ...c5. 16.Qe2
This looks a little clumsy but the Queen needs to get out of the way of ...c5. [16.Bxc4? c5]

16...Nb6 Black hits d4 and protects c4. 17.Qc2 White moves his Queen again but finding a good
continuation is not easy. [17.0-0-0 looks very risky and ; 17.Rc1 strengthens c3 in anticipation of ...c5.
17...Bxd4 18.Bxd4 Rxd4 19.Qe3 suits White but Black is by no means obliged to take on d4.] 17...c5
18.dxc5 Nd5 Diagram

19.Bxc4 Here Black has his choice of how to win. [If 19.Bd2 then 19...Nb4 leaves White without a good
square to retreat his Queen - JB 20.Qc1 (20.Qd1 Bg5; 20.Qb1 Rxd2) 20...Bxg2] 19...Bxc3+ [19...Nxc3
20.bxc3 Bxc3+ 21.Ke2 Rh4 and the Bishop has no where to go. 22.Bd3 (22.Bb3 Qa6+) 22...Rxd3 One
advantage of taking on c3 is that it closes the c-file so Black's King is quite safe - JB]

20.bxc3 Nxe3 21.fxe3 Qxc5 22.Qe2 [22.Be2 Qxe3 23.Qc1 Qe5 and it is hard to suggest a move for White.
(23...Qxc1+ is not out of the question 24.Rxc1 Bxg2 25.Rg1 Rxh2 should win) ] 22...Rh4! 23.0-0 Rxc4 I

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thought it would be easiest to convert my extra piece with an attack so I keep the Queens on - JB.

24.Rxf7 Rxc3 25.Rf2 Rxe3 26.Qb2 Red3 27.Qc1 Rc3 28.Qh6 Qb6 29.Re1 Rc2 30.Qxe6+ Qxe6 31.Rxe6
Rd1+ 32.Rf1 Rxg2+ This game started the Cuban-American players on a 5-0 run this round, all with the
Black pieces! 0-1

12.1.04 –

Blogger: GM Alex Fishbein

Hello to my family and all my friends everywhere in New Jersey, Florida, New York, and to my many
supporters at Morgan Stanley and elsewhere; I know you have been watching and I appreciate your support.

Today is a free day (meaning no games today). At this point I am in 8th place which is not too bad given that
I am known as the “GM with a day job”.

Before the tournament I learned that there is a special prize called the “Bent Larsen prize” for “fighting
chess”, awarded to the “most combative” player. My first thought was “shouldn't this be called the Ron
Artest prize?” and my second thought was that I would probably be on the losing end of that kind of combat.
But then I realized that they must have been talking about being “combative” on the board rather than off --
but it is a big secret exactly what that means.

(Bent Larsen was known for alternating first and last place results in tournaments, and for playing extremely
original and exciting chess. He was one of the strongest players in the world in the 1960s but he famously
lost 6-0 to Bobby Fischer in 1971).

One possible criteria is lack of draws, especially short draws; spectators appear not to be too amused when a
game ends in a draw in a few moves. Since I generally don't agree to draws early, I decided to be “
combative” again this time and so far, true to form, I haven't played a single draw – 4 wins and 2 losses
(including a 124-move win in game 3 in which I turned down a draw in a position which many spectators,
including the computer, regarded as worse for me). We will see in the next three games if I will ultimately
live or die by the sword.

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11.30.04 –

Blogger: WGM Rusadan "Rusa" Goletiani

Hi, I won today so I am happy. I was black and I played a higher rated player so I was a little nervous, but I
played a nice game, got better in the opening, won a pawn in the middlegame and won the game at the end
:-) Sometimes I think to myself it's so easy to play chess and win, why can't I play like this all the time? :-)
Well, three more games to go. It gets harder at the end, but I will try my best.

I wanna say hi to everyone who wants me to win :-) Your support is very important for me, thank you! It's
very nice in San Diego thanks to the organizers :-) and it gets nicer with every win :-) ...bye!

Blogger: WGM Anna Zatonskih

Today I played my shortest game in the tournament and I won in 20 moves. I played against 6 time US
Champion Walter Browne. He made a mistake in an unclear position and allowed me a very nice queen
sacrifice. Unfortunately he resigned before the final 21.Qxf7+ :-)

My quickest game was in 45 moves and 5 hours before today. I had very tough 7-hour games yesterday and
the day before yesterday. Now I am very happy with my win and I have a good mood before the day off.

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Blogger: FM Michael Casella

Uno, dos, tres, uh I don't know Spanish.

I am now well ahead of Shirazi's worst performance in a US championship. He had scored a total of 1/2 a
long time ago and that was against Dzindzi who was offering draws to everyone. The story goes that when
the Iranian IM didn't accept Roman's offer immediately, Roman warned, "Take it or I beat you".

My game today would have been the game of the tournament if it hadnt been all played before in
Shirov-Radjabov. It was still exciting even the second time around. Iryna knew the game cold, but I couldn't
remember it exactly, thanks to the poor seconding of IM Dave Vigorito, who arrived yesterday from the
American Open held in LA. Zenyuk needs to learn not to trust Informant evaluations, since the Queen vs 2
rooks is very hard to play for Black.

When I pointed out a way she could draw, she felt like she was vindicated, until Dmitry Gurevich stated
flatly that she deserved to lose for going into the line in the first place.

Casella (left) and his enraged coach, IM Vigorito.

Blogger: GM Dmitry Gurevich

Hello to all my friends and students in Chicago. To Sam, Johnny, Douglas, Zack, Josh, James, Steven, etc.

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2005 US Chess Championship

and all your parents. I'm surviving, playing strong opponents. I'm enjoying the tournament. Many interesting
games, and also the other games it's interesting to watch. I'm trying to keep positive spirits for the rest of the
tournament. Best Wishes.

PS Congratulations to Zhe Quan for his great result in the World Junior Championship this week!

Blogger: IM Ben Finegold

This is my 2nd blog, blogging fans. Well, I finally won a game, and a tough one at that. On the free day a
few days back, the wife and I went to LA, and watched the American Open for a few minutes, and visited
my main man, Craig Berger (aka no-limit on ICC). LA was rainy, unfortunately, but we enjoyed ourselves
in any case.

The wife and I have been taking to hanging out with the cool crowd (Schneider, Ross, Milman,
Hoekstra....you know...the guys who have been beating me!).

I hope you are all enjoying the tournament, as it is very strong, and the games are all very exciting. Alex
Fishbein, noted for solid play, has 6 decisive games out of 6! Also, amazingly, the 5 Cubans in the
tournament went 5-0 today, all with black! ....incredible.

Tomorrow is free day #2, although I will be going to a school tomorrow and try to impress the
impressionable young minds of tomorrow! Until next time, this is BPF signing off!

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Blogger: WFM Anna Levina

Well it has finally happened, no, Duke has not won at football. I finally won my game against Sagalchik.
After having winning positions against several players including Zenyuk and Hoekstra, it felt good to finally
win.

Now I'm looking forward to the rest day and maybe seing some of San Diego. Today someone was knocking
on the walls, must be the water in the pipes, but having it start at 6am wasnt fun. Hopefully it won't be
repeated today. Anyway hello to everyone at Duke, and enjoy the last week of the semester.

Blogger: Ron Rezendes Jr. President San Diego Chess Club, President So. Ca. Chess Federation

Hello chess fans around the world! The tournament has been running very smoothly and the players have
received the first class treatment they all deserve. San Diego is proud to host the US Chess Championship.

Tomorrow is an off day but that doesn't mean chess players have to go without chess! The San Diego Chess
Club opens at 2pm tomorrow so here's an open invitation to all the players in town to come visit us and play
at the best chess club in the country! By the way, since it is an off day for the championship players, there
just MIGHT be a chance to meet some of them at the club - who knows?! [ The San Diego Chess Club
webpage ]

Finally, let me say "Hi" to my son Chaz in Idaho, my beautiful daughters Samantha and Haley, and of
course, hi mom & dad - I love you all!

Blogger: IM Yury Lapshun

Today I beat a women's US Champion with 1.b4. Before I played her I looked at her games and didn't know
what move to start with. I was thinking about 1.e4, but she plays different openings after this. Sicilian or
1...e5 with Ruy Lopez or Marshall Gambit. Before the game I was talking with my roommate, Salvijus
Bercys, and he told me I was preparing too much for my opponents, that it was taking too much energy. So I
decided to take his advice and forget preparation so much and play 1.b4.

Usually I get completely lost positions with this move, but my results have been good. I drew Stripunsky

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with this move after I had a totally lost position by move seven. I beat Paschall and Milman with 1.b4, but
usually from bad positions in the opening. When I played in Canada I scored 7-0 with 1.b4! I was scared to
play it in the US Championship, but I decided the best preparation was no preparation. Also I have a win
against a 2500 Skecic.

Today was no exception. I got a bad position in the opening, just as I planned! 3.Qc1, Blatny played this
move. I played it against IM Paschall and beat him. If Blatny can play it, why not me? Against IM Bonin I
played h3 and Nf3. Idea of Qc1 is to play e3 and c4.

She played great chess in the opening. I decided to attack when she got into time trouble and won. Maybe
she can defend with 39...Bg5, but by then I'm doing well.

Yury at the opening reception. He's a party animal!

round 6 pairings and results

Bd White Res Black
1 GM Gregory Serper ½ GM Hikaru Nakamura
2 GM Alex Stripunsky 1-0 GM Alexander Fishbein
3 GM Sergey Kudrin 0-1 GM Gregory Kaidanov
4 GM Ildar Ibragimov ½ GM Boris Gulko
5 GM Yury Shulman 1-0 GM Alexander Shabalov
6 GM Gata Kamsky ½ GM Joel Benjamin
7 GM Alexander Goldin 1-0 IM Levon Altounian
8 GM Igor Novikov 0-1 IM Renier Gonzalez
9 GM Alexander Onischuk ½ IM Dmitry Schneider
10 FM Dmitry Zilberstein ½ GM Varuzhan Akobian
11 GM Alex Yermolinsky 0-1 GM Julio Becerra
12 GM Dmitry Gurevich ½ GM Nick DeFirmian
13 GM Larry Christiansen 0-1 FM Lev Milman
14 Salvijus Bercys ½ GM Aleks Wojtkiewicz

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15 GM Alexander Ivanov 0-1 IM Blas Lugo
16 IM Eugene Perelshteyn 1-0 IM Irina Krush (w)
17 IM Cyrus Lakdawala ½ FM Stephen Muhammad
18 WGM Anna Zatonskih (w) 1-0 GM Walter Browne
19 IM Stanislav Kriventsov 0-1 WGM Rusudan Goletiani (w)
20 IM Ben Finegold 1-0 WIM Tsagaan Battsetseg (w)
21 IM Yury Lapshun 1-0 WIM Anna Hahn (w)
22 IM Ron Burnett 0-1 IM Jesse Kraai
23 FM Robby Adamson 1-0 FM Tegshuren Enkhbat
24 FM Matt Hoekstra 0-1 FM Marcel Martinez
25 FM Fabio La Rota 0-1 FM Joshua Friedel
26 WFM Tatev Abrahamyan (w) ½ GM Anatoly Lein
27 Jake Kleiman 1-0 Vanessa West (w)
28 FM Michael Casella 1-0 Iryna Zenyuk (w)
29 WIM Jennifer Shahade (w) ½ WFM Laura Ross (w)
30 Chouchanik Airapetian (w) 0-1 FM Bruci Lopez
31 WIM Esther Epstein (w) ½ Tatiana Vayserberg (w)
32 WFM Anna Levina (w) 1-0 WFM Olga Sagalchik (w)

round 5 review: it's all about the games

11.29.04

It was a day of amazing games here in San Diego. Player after player talked about how wild or crazy or
complicated or, depending on which side they were on, how tragic, great, or tough their game was. This
informal survey was reinforced by commentator IM John Watson. When he handed over the day's annotated
games he added, “there were many brilliant games today. Make sure you mention that today's games deserve
a close look!” Mission accomplished, John!

IM John Watson in the commentary room.

With so many strong players being evenly matched in the middle rounds it's no surprise there should be so

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many sparkling games. You get the best chess when both sides are playing hard for a win, and it takes
pressure to create a diamond.

Let's start on the top boards, where there was a lot of action but in the end, no blood. Nakamura missed an
overpowering attack against Kudrin and needed to escape later himself. Shabalov let slip a winning endgame
against stern defense by Stripunsky. Those draws allowed two more players to join the leading group.
Alexander Fishbein continued his good form and beat Novikov. Gregory Serper outdueled Schneider with
black to join the leaders.

Nakamura's preparation against Kudrin's Grunfeld went one move too far! Just when he had reached a
crushing position he banged out a move he and his computer had analyzed as winning the day before,
17.Bg5. It turns out that this allowed Black to defend with 17...Nc6 because the planned 18.Rxc6, which
looks crushing, allows Black to turn the tables with an attack on the white king.

Nakamura discovered this at the board, but it was already probably too late for more than a draw. If he'd
looked at the position a little longer (or let his computer run a little longer!) he would have found 17.h4! (Or
17.Ng5, usually with 18.h4 next.) Gata Kamsky suggested that move after the game had finished. Black has
no way to fend off the opening of the h-file.

That wasn't the end of the story, however. Nakamura avoided a repetition draw and proceeded with
incredibly risky play, even “suicidal” according to our commentary team! Kudrin failed to exploit these
opportunities, missing several winning moves, and the game ended in a draw after all.

Behind these hands are Shabalov (left) and Stripunsky.

Shabalov's game against Stripunsky was no less thrilling. He gained a bishop+knight vs rook endgame, one
of several of these on the top boards today. It looked like a sure win, but Stripunsky put up heroic resistance
and found a draw by running his kingside pawns forward. 47.Nb3, controlling several key squares, looks
like a good place to start looking for a clear win. After 47.Nc4 h4! the win is surprisingly elusive.

With two of the event's best killers missing wins, Alexander Fishbein showed off his all-round game by
devastating one of the favorites in a fantastic effort. He won material with a nice combination and then
switched into four-wheel drive to grind out the superior endgame, another N+B vs R. Veteran GM Anatoly
Lein was singing Fishbein's praises when he joined us for dinner, and he hadn't even seen this great game
yet! Had Novikov found 23...Bf4! in the tactical melee it's unlikely White would have had enough to win.
But fortune rewarded the brave, as she so often does.

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Reality TV: When Fishbein attacks!

GM Gregory Serper moved up when Dmitry Schneider's piece sacrifice went wrong. Serper came out of the
tactics with, you guessed it, bishop and knight for a rook, and went on to convert the material advantage.

FM Dmitry Zilberstein continues to impress and outperform. Today he drew with black against Nick De
Firmian with an excellent defensive effort. The 25-year-old has been a 200-point underdog in every game
and is +1 without a loss against five experienced Grandmasters!

IM Ben Finegold was smashed in a Sicilian by Lev Milman and many players probably would have resigned
on move 20. But that's not Finegold's style and he stuck it out to the bitter end, playing on three pawns down
looking for swindling chances. As the saying goes, turning a 20-move wipeout into a 60-move game at least
keeps it out of the papers! Milman's attack is not to be missed.

Krush (left) and Goletiani played a wild one.

The women's leaderboard didn't change a bit. Anna Zatonskih pulled out some amazing defensive
maneuvers to draw yet another marathon game. Her knight performed miracles to hold the draw. It seems
like she's one of the last few players to leave the board every day. Today she and her opponent Ivanov were
only followed by Lein and La Rota, the two oldest players in the field. The veterans slugged it out for seven
hours before the draw was finally signed.

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The senior event ran late. Lein (left) and La Rota.

Co-leaders Irina Krush and Rusudan Goletiani handed the advantage back and forth in a wild fracas.
Goletiani was the last to miss the win. 44...c3 45.Re1 Bf8! looks like a crusher. Battsetseg played tenacious
defense to gain a miracle draw against Kriventsov in the endgame. There are no easy points around here!

Tsagaan Battsetseg defended like a tiger.

Two former champions had very different days. 2002 and 2004 women's title winner Jennifer Shahade
overpressed against Vanessa West and was punished by a sharp counterattack, crashing to her fourth loss.
No one could predict how rough a time Shahade is having in San Diego, especially not the fans who picked
her in a landslide to win the event!

Meanwhile, 2003 women's champion Anna Hahn overpowered FM Bruci Lopez. She smashed through his
Benoni Defense in textbook style with a central pawn sacrifice and then ripped open his kingside. Her first
win moved her up a half-point behind the leading pack of four.

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Anna Hahn. Trust us, she's a killer!

Boris Gulko (left) made short work of Cyrus Lakdawala.

The Spanish-language mega-channel Univision came to the tournament to do a report. They interviewed all
five of the Cuban-Americans playing in the event and ran a full report on the local station here in San Diego,
which has a huge Hispanic population. Let us know if you see the report anywhere else!

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GM Julio Becerra is ready for his close-up.

Former US Junior champion Marcel Martinez in the spotlight.

round 5 games annotated by international masters john watson and john donaldson with commentary
by the players

Nakamura,H (2620) - Kudrin,S (2528) [D82]
2005 US Chessmaster Championship San Diego (5), 29.11.2004
[IMs Donaldson and Watson]

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5 The opening is the same one that we saw in Novikov-Kudrin in the preceding
round. The players repeat their moves for some time: 4.Bf4 Bg7 5.e3 c5 6.dxc5 Qa5 7.Rc1 Ne4 8.cxd5
Nxc3 9.Qd2 Qxa2 10.Rxc3

This is all book. The point of Rxc3 is that 10...Bxc3 11.Qcx3 attacks the rook on h8 and takes over all the
dark squares (Bh6 is strong in many cases). 10...0-0 11.Bc4 [Going for it. The Novikov game went 11.Nf3
Nd7 12.Rc2 Qa1+ 13.Qd1 Qa5+ 14.Qd2 Qa1+ 15.Qd1 Qa5+ 16.Qd2 drawn.]

11...Qa1+ 12.Rc1 Qxb2 13.e4! White isn't even a pawn down and look at his development and center!
Gruenfeld players have to suffer through this kind of thing. [13.Nf3 a5 14.Nd4 Qxd2+ 15.Kxd2 Na6 wasn't
that horrible for Black in Piket-Svidler, Prague 2002.]

13...Qa3 Krasenkov suggested this move in the notes to last moves contest....Seirawan-Nakamura, US Ch
2003! Hikaru obviously wasn't impressed. [The Seirawan game went 13...a5 14.Ne2 a4 15.Rc2 Qa1+
16.Rc1 Qb2 17.Rc2 Qa1+ 18.Nc1 Na6 19.Be3 Qb1 20.Ba2 Qb4 21.f3 Qxd2+ 22.Kxd2 Nb4 and Black w as
fine but White could have had the advantage at several points before this.]

14.Nf3 Qxc5 15.d6 Tremendously strong. Slower moves aren't as killing but they're still strong, for
example, [15.0-0; or 15.e5 ] 15...Qa3 Diagram

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16.Bxf7+! A cute move (and likely part of Hikaru's preparation, since he had used just a few minutes to this
point). [Another good sequence was 16.dxe7 Qxe7 17.Ng5! ,when Black has to defend against both Nxf7
and Bd6. This is probably a clearer way to a winning advantage.]

16...Kh8 [16...Rxf7 17.Rxc8+ Bf8 18.d7 is an easy win.; A pretty line (and a good theme to remember) was
16...Kxf7 17.Ng5+ Kg8 18.Rxc8! Rxc8 19.Qd5+ Kh8 20.Nf7+ Kg8 21.Nh6+ Kh8 22.Qg8+ Rxg8 23.Nf7#]

17.Bg5? Played almost instantly, but it isn't very logical and gives away White's advantage. A simple path
was [17.dxe7 Qxe7 18.Ng5! Nc6 19.Bd6 Qf6 20.Bc4! (among other moves) 20...Re8 21.Nf7+ Kg8 22.e5
and 0-0, when Black must resign.; ( 17.Bd5 followed by Ng5 is also good); 17.Ng5 This seems to be even
stronger, or h4 first with similar lines. - Mig 17...Nc6 18.h4; 17.h4! Diagram

Kamsky's suggestion after the game and it looks crushing. Many lines transpose with Ng5, which will come
next. Black has no defense to h5. -Mig 17...Nd7 18.Ng5 e5?! 19.Be3 Black's position is hopeless.]

17...Nc6 18.dxe7 What else can White do? Hikaru was counting on [18.Rxc6 bxc6 19.dxe7 , but should
have realized that being a mere piece up after 19...Ba6 20.exf8Q+ Rxf8 was worthless in the face of threats
like ...Bc3 and ...Rxf7. Since White can't plat 0-0, his bet line would be 21.Be3 Rxf7 (21...Bc3?? 22.Bd4+
Bxd4 23.Qxd4#) 22.Bd4 c5! 23.Bxg7+ Kxg7 , but Black's attack would be way too strong.]

18...Nxe7 19.Rc7 Qa1+ 20.Rc1 Qa3 21.Rc7 Qa1+ It looks like a draw, but Hikaru takes an enormous
chance. Not since Fischer has an American player refused or avoided draws so often even when it meant
standing worse.

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22.Ke2 "!?!" 22...Qxh1 23.Bxe7 Bg4!? Not a bad move, but [23...b6! with the idea ...Ba6+ was also worth
thinking about. 24.Bc4]

24.Bxf8 Rxf8 25.h3 Black was threatening ...Qxg2. 25...Bxf3+ 26.gxf3 Qxh3 [26...Qb1 holds on to the
b-pawn.] 27.Rxb7 Qc8 28.Bd5 Qc5 The position looks about equal. But true to his nature Hikaru uncorks
another seemingly suicidal shot: 29.e5?? Diagram

A crazy move but unsound. 29...Bxe5? Black should win with this, but [Both players missed 29...Rd8! ,
which wins immediately. 30.Qa2 (30.e6 Rxd5 31.Rb8+ Bf8 32.Rxf8+ (32.Qf4 Rf5) 32...Kg7! and the rook
falls) 30...Rxd5 (or 30...Bh6 31.Be4 Rd2+) 31.Rb8+ Bf8 32.Rxf8+ Kg7!]

30.Qh6 Bc7! 31.Kf1? [31.Rxc7? Re8+ 32.Kf1 Qxc7 . Hence Kf1, but White should have played; 31.Qd2]
31...Rb8? It wasn't easy to see, but after

[31...Rf4!! practically forces White to resign because he can hardly avoid ...Qc1+ and ...Rg4+. The try
32.Rxc7 Qxc7 is pointless because Black has material, a safe position, and the passed a-pawn.]

32.Qh4 Qc1+ 33.Kg2 Qf4 34.Qxf4 With the opposite colored bishops there's no reason to play on. 1/2-1/2

Gulko,B (2600) - Lakdawala,C (2422) [D19]
2005 US Chessmaster Championship San Diego (5), 29.11.2004
[IMs Donaldson and Watson]

1.d4 The first four rounds players who won or drew their games commented on them for the spectators, but
today we had something special. Hometown hero, San Diego IM Cyrus Lakdawala, showed his class by
analyzing his loss to GM Boris Gulko..

1...d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 dxc4 5.a4 Bf5 6.e3 e6 7.Bxc4 Bb4 8.0-0 0-0 9.Qe2 Bg4 Black normally
plays 9...Bf5 here b ut the solid text is a longtime favorite of Cyrus 10.h3 This is probably the most precise
move in the position. Black's move order is designed to stop the natural 10.e4 - when captures on f3 and d4
win a pawn. By playing h3 early White removes Black's idea of ....Qd8-a5-h5.

[10.Rd1 was seen in Van Buskirk-Lakdawala, Irvine 1998, and led to a winning position for Black after
10...Nbd7 11.e4 Rc8 12.Bf4 Qa5 13.e5 Nd5 14.Nxd5 cxd5 15.Bb5 Qd8 16.Rac1 Nb8 17.Rxc8 Qxc8 18.Bd3

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Qd8 19.Qe3 Nc6 20.h3 Bh5 21.Bb5 Qb6 22.g4 Bg6 23.Rc1 Na5 24.Bd3 Be7 25.Bxg6 fxg6]

10...Bxf3 11.Qxf3 Nbd7 12.Rd1 Rc8 Black intends to meet e4 with ...e5 which reveals the point behind this
mysterious Rook move which is designed to counter White's subsequent d4-d5. 13.e4 e5 14.Be3 Qa5 The
alternative here is 14...Qe7 which Cyrus had played before but found wanting.

15.d5 [15.Na2 was played in Kasimdzhanov - Bareev, Sarajevo 2003. The logical looking text, which was
part of Gulko's pregame preparation, appears to be a novelty. ] 15...Bxc3 [15...Nb6 16.Bb3 Bxc3 17.bxc3
cxd5 looks like a safer way to play.]

16.bxc3 cxd5 17.Bxd5 Played ala Botvinnik, White prepares to cement his Bishop with c4. Then Black has
the unpleasant choice of leaving the powerful Bishop on the board or giving White a mighty d-pawn.
17...Nc5 [My initial idea at he board was 17...Nxd5 18.Rxd5 Qc7 but after I spotted 19.a5 I started not to
like my position. CL Having said this I think 17....Nc5 might well be a mistake.] 18.c4! Diagram

White simply ignores Black's threats and proceeds along with his plan. [After 18.Qg3 Ncxe4 19.Qxe5
threatening Bxf7+ 19...Qc7 I felt I was doing fine.CL]

18...Nxd5 19.cxd5 Nxa4 If I don't take the pawn White is much better but I underestimated his threats in the
subsequent play - CL. 20.Qf5! Now I must defend the pawn on e5. If I lose it Gulko's central pawns are too
strong. But how to do it? If I play ...Rfe8 I encourage d6-d7 and ....f6 weakens my position and allows his
Queen to enter CL.

20...f6 21.d6 Rcd8 22.Qe6+ Rf7 [22...Kh8 23.d7 leaves me paralyzed but at least holds out a little
longer.CL] 23.Rdc1! There is nothing that Black can do against the plan of Rc8, Rac1, Rxd8 and Rc8.

23...Kf8 24.Rc8 b5 25.Rac1 [After the game Boris pointed out the alternative and very pretty winning line.
25.d7 Re7 26.Bb6! CL] 1-0

11.29.04 –

Blogger: IM Cyrus Lakdawala

NooooOOOOOOoooOOOOOOOOO!!!!! That didn't go to well today. Gulko's opening prep killed me. I
think he only played 5 or 6 moves. Everything else was worked out before the game.

Blogger: 2003 Women's Champion Anna Hahn

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Today I had a nice attack for a pawn and managed to win. In my previous games I was making too many
mistakes in the openings, thus I'm having a slow start.
It's nice to be in San Diego.. great weather, beautiful golf courses (not that I play golf!) with an ocean in the
background. One drawback is that it's impossible to get anywhere without driving, and given that I'm not
much of a driver, I do miss good old New York!

Blogger: Tatiana Vayserberg

Hello to my friends and my husband Alex and my son Constantin. San Diego is nice and the chess is nice.
But the results not so nice so far. Today I was completely winning but I panicked. If I play 18...Qxa3 it
would be very easy. Then at the finish 28...Rgd8 and Black is okay, but in time trouble I blundered into
checkmate. I hope next game I will win!

Blogger: IM Renier Gonzalez

Hi, I want to send greetings to all my friends and also to my family. My game from the 4th round was one of

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those that we prefer to forget. I played white, but couldn't do anything, so I lost in an boring endgame. I
finally won today, so I feel better now.

Saludos a todos mis amigos y familiares. En la cuarta ronda perdi con blancas en una partida donde no pude
hacer nada, asi que es una de esas partidas de esas que preferimos olvidar. Hoy gane en una complicada
partida donde tuve un poco de suerte y termine ganando un final con calidad de mas. Gracias por seguirme y
espero no defraudarlos.

Blogger: FM Marcel Martinez

Saludos a todos en Miami, FL, mi madre, mi padre, mi esposa.... todos por el club de Miami International
Chess Academy (MICA) .... a mi futura ahijada Dalila Caissa Lugo. Gracias a todos por seguirnos a diario
por aqui.... esperamos mejorar los resultados.... Gracias.

Blogger: IM Blas Lugo

Por este medio quiero agradecer a los organizadores y patrocinadores de este evento por las buenas
condiciones y la Buena organizacion del mismo. A los arbitros por tener los pareos listos antes de tiempo!
Esperamos que este tipo de evento sea un ejemplo para muchos de los eventos alrededor de los Estados
Unidos. Saludos a todos en Miami FL y en mi academia (Miami International Chess Academy) MICA

Blogger: GM Julio Becerra

Saludos a todos en Miami FL, a mi familia, mis abuelos, mi mama, mi hermana, mi hermano y a todos mis
companeros de equipo aqui en San Diego.

round 5 pairings and results

Bd White Res Black
1 GM Hikaru Nakamura ½ GM Sergey Kudrin
2 GM Alexander Shabalov ½ GM Alex Stripunsky
3 GM Alexander Fishbein 1-0 GM Igor Novikov
4 GM Joel Benjamin ½ GM Yury Shulman
5 IM Dmitry Schneider 0-1 GM Gregory Serper
6 GM Aleks Wojtkiewicz ½ GM Gata Kamsky
7 GM Gregory Kaidanov 1-0 IM Eugene Perelshteyn
8 GM Julio Becerra ½ GM Alexander Goldin
9 GM Boris Gulko 1-0 IM Cyrus Lakdawala
10 GM Walter Browne 0-1 GM Ildar Ibragimov
11 GM Varuzhan Akobian ½ GM Dmitry Gurevich
12 IM Levon Altounian ½ GM Alex Yermolinsky
13 FM Dmitry Zilberstein ½ GM Nick DeFirmian
14 IM Blas Lugo ½ GM Larry Christiansen
15 FM Joshua Friedel 0-1 GM Alexander Onischuk
16 WGM Anna Zatonskih ½ GM Alexander Ivanov
17 FM Lev Milman 1-0 IM Ben Finegold
18 IM Renier Gonzalez 1-0 IM Ron Burnett
19 WIM Tsagaan Battsetseg ½ IM Stanislav Kriventsov

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20 IM Jesse Kraai 0-1 Salvijus Bercys
21 IM Irina Krush ½ WGM Rusudan Goletiani
22 IM Yury Lapshun ½ FM Matt Hoekstra
23 FM Marcel Martinez ½ FM Robby Adamson
24 FM Stephen Muhammad 1-0 Jake Kleiman
25 GM Anatoly Lein ½ FM Fabio La Rota
26 FM Tegshuren Enkhbat 1-0 WIM Esther Epstein
27 WIM Anna Hahn 1-0 FM Bruci Lopez
28 Vanessa West 1-0 WIM Jennifer Shahade
29 WFM Laura Ross ½ FM Michael Casella
30 WFM Tatev Abrahamyan 1-0 Tatiana Vayserberg
31 Iryna Zenyuk ½ WFM Anna Levina
32 WFM Olga Sagalchik 0-1 Chouchanik Airapetian

Round 4 review: The strongest ever

11.28.04 – Someone who knows something about US Championships, six-time winner Walter Browne,
called this one "the strongest US Ch. ever" in his blog entry yesterday. There are no easy pairings, no days
when you can relax and expect an easy win, or even an easy draw. Even when you're not doing well and,
since this is a Swiss-system tournament, you expect a more accessible opponent next round in the middle of
the pack, you might just find yourself sitting across from a tough Grandmaster. Of course he's not going to
be happy about being in the middle of the pack and he's going to take it out on you.

After four rounds the player with the second-highest international rating, Alexander Onischuk, is in 31st
place with an even score. The lower-rated players are eager to make the most of this opportunity and most
are playing very tough chess. Zilberstein, Lugo, and Altounian have the same 2.5 points as past winners and
top seeds like Kamsky, Goldin, and Kaidanov.

Second-seed Onischuk (left) lost to Alexander Fishbein.

As predicted, it was another day of hard-fought games on just about every board. After almost three hours of
play the only draw was on board one, Novikov-Kudrin. Igor Novikov then made the mistake of coming into
the media room to use the internet. Of course we took advantage of the opportunity to hassle him about the
short draw. He said he had made a mistake in the opening and didn't have anything better than allowing the
repetition with check that ended the game on move 16. We're not sure the Bent Larsen Prize jury will accept

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that, Igor!

GM Igor Novikov contemplating one of his 16 moves.

There was competition for shortest game, although it wasn't a draw. GM Joel Benjamin walked in after
beating IM Kriventsov without a single move! The game actually lasted twenty moves, but the entire game
had been played before two years ago in a European junior championship. Even the very pretty final
combination with 18..Ng4! was first played by a young Azerbaijani player who is now a strong GM.
Benjamin had looked at that game while preparing for Kriventsov on the off day and knew there was a good
chance of their playing that line because according to the database, Kriventsov always plays 6.f3 in the
Najdorf Sicilian.

Kriventsov-Benjamin after 18.Qxe5

Black played 18...Ng4! and the threat of 19...Bf6 is a killer. The
game finished 19.Qc3 Bf6 20.e5 Bxe5! 0-1. If 21.Bd4 Bf4+ wins.
Almost as nice as when it was first played in 2002! Yep, the
database is either your friend or your enemy...

Joel said that after the game Kriventsov told him he hadn't had time
to study chess lately because he just finished his PhD in electrical
engineering. Well, if you can't imitate Mikhail Botvinnik at the
chessboard you can always try it in the laboratory.

Three-time champ Nick De Firmian suffered a nasty turn in his game
against Nakamura. After being in control most of the way, Nick missed a nice exchange sacrifice in mutual
time trouble and was instantly lost. Nakamura finished off with his customary precision. Despite rumors of
his being sick (he does look a little greenish, although that could be the camera trouble we've been having),
the 16-year-old favorite is among the leaders with 3.5/4.

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Green and maybe greenish, but Nakamura (right) has 3.5/4.

Alexander Stripunsky continued to look the part and walk the walk of the Terminator. With his black
sunglasses on from start to finish he took out one of the favorites, Kentucky GM Gregory Kaidanov, in a
long game. The consensus among the commentators was that Kaidanov was fine but risked too much trying
to win and was punished.

"Are you Sarah Conner? I mean, Gregory Kaidanov?"

Gata Kamsky scored his first win of the event. This one might have felt as good as when he was beating
guys like Anand and Karpov in the 90's! It was his first win in a serious tournament since 1999, when he
played two games in the FIDE world championship before resuming his retirement. Kamsky came in to blog
and he also gave a sweet queen sacrifice line that would have given his opponent good drawing chances.

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Behind Kamsky-Lapshun, Ivanov continues his innovative thinking technique.

Defending champ Alexander Shabalov is right back in the swing of things despite losing his first game.
After wiping out Renier Gonzalez today he has now won three in a row and will have white against
co-leader Stripunsky tomorrow.

Alexander Shabalov is back in black after three straight wins.

Veteran Walter Browne continues to show original and combative chess. He is known for being deeply
prepared in sharp lines like the Najdorf Sicilian, and yet several of his games have reached completely new
positions by move five or six! Today he walked the tightrope against Yermolinsky for a long time before
finally reaching a drawn endgame. Walter gave us some fascinating notes on this wild game that we'll be
bringing you soon.

It was a bad day for the leading ladies. Anna Zatonskih and Tsagaan Battsetseg both lost and were caught up
by Irina Krush and Rusudan Goletiani on two points. Zatonskih lost a marathon grind by GM Serper, her
first loss of the event. Battsetseg had her kingside ripped apart by GM Shulman in a 28-move demolition.

There was a classic women's duel as two of the top young American stars met. 2002 and 2004 women's
champion Jennifer Shahade lost on the white side of a complicated Sicilian against her friend Irina Krush,
who was the women's champion in 1998.

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GM Nick De Firmian felt that Jen had gone against the attacking principles of the Sicilian in the game,
although he had just come from the hotel bar where he had been trying to forget his disaster against
Nakamura, so it's hard to vouch for the quality of his commentary! All four of Krush's games have been
wins for black! She has white tomorrow against Goletiani in a key pairing for the women's title.

Shahade-Krush, an American women's classic.

At the top of the pairing chart it's going to be non-stop heavyweight GM clashes from here on out. At the
bottom of the page the two players who still haven't scored any points are going to meet up. Something's
gotta give! To be fair, Chouchanik Airapetian was completely winning in her game against West today but
missed the killer 30.Rf7 and eventually lost.

2003 Women's champ Anna Hahn tries the modified Ivanov method.

round 4 games annotated by international masters john watson and john donaldson with commentary
by the players

Christiansen,L (2531) - Zilberstein,D (2379) [C78]
2005 US Chessmaster Championship San Diego (4), 28.11.2004

All notes based upon comments by or analysis with Dmitry Zilberstein. 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4
Nf6 5.0-0 b5 6.Bb3 Bc5 7.a4 Rb8 8.c3 d6 9.d4 Bb6 The same variation as in Dmitry's brilliant win over

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Ivanov in the 2nd round. 10.a5!? A tricky move although it forfeits White's chance to open the queenside.
Perhaps this is less promising than [10.axb5]

10...Ba7 [10...Nxa5!? looks risky. Dmitry was worried about 11.Rxa5!? Bxa5 12.dxe5 , although Black
might defends by the risky 12...Nxe4 (12...Ng4 13.Bg5 f6 14.exf6 gxf6 15.Bh4 was strong for White in
Dolmatov-Sivokho,St Petersburg 2000.) 13.Bd5 (13.Qd5 Be6!) 13...f5!? (13...Nc5 14.b4 Bf5 15.bxc5 dxc5 is
unclear, but most players would prefer White.) ]

11.Be3 [11.h3 0-0 12.Re1 is more common. This looks equal according to theory. One example is 12...h6
13.Be3 exd4 14.cxd4 Re8 15.d5 (15.Qc2) 15...Bxe3 16.Rxe3 Nb4 17.Nc3 c5 18.dxc6 Nxc6 19.Rd3
(19.e5!?) 19...Be6 20.Bxe6?! (20.Rxd6 Bxb3 21.Rxd8 Bxd1 22.Rxb8 Rxb8 23.Rxd1 b4 24.Nd5 Nxe4 is
unclear.) 20...Rxe6 21.Nd4 Nxd4 22.Rxd4 b4 23.Nd5 Nxe4 24.Rxb4 Rxb4 25.Nxb4 Nxf2!
Ramesh-Ganguly, Nagpur 2002.] 11...exd4 12.cxd4 0-0 13.h3?! Diagram

This allows a seemingly risky pawn grab, but it's a center pawn and there's no refutation, so it's worth it.
[Better looks 13.Nbd2 , for example, 13...Bg4!? (13...Bd7) 14.Qc2 Nb4 15.Qc3 Bxf3 16.Nxf3 c5 17.Bg5!]
13...Nxe4! [13...d5 14.e5 Ne4 15.Nc3 Nxc3 16.bxc3 Bf5 was about equal in Stellwagen-Friedel, Heraklio
2004.] 14.Bd5 Qe8 15.Re1 [Not 15.Qc2? Nb4 16.Qxe4 Qxe4 17.Bxe4 f5!] 15...Nf6! 16.Nc3 [The point is
16.Bg5 Nxd5! 17.Rxe8 Rxe8 and Black has equal material and the better chances.]

16...Nb4 [16...Nxd5 17.Nxd5 Qd7 18.Rc1 is perhaps good for Black but loses the initiative.] 17.Bb3 [Again
Black is better after 17.Bg5 Nbxd5 18.Rxe8 Rxe8] 17...Qd7 18.Bg5 Qf5 19.Bxf6 else ...Bb7 is devastating.
19...Qxf6 20.Qd2 Bf5 [20...Bxh3? 21.Ne4 Qg6 22.Nh4]

21.Ne4 White has almost nothing for the pawn, so he has to keep the initiative. 21...Bxe4 22.Rxe4 d5
23.Re5 c5 24.Rae1 No better are [24.dxc5 Bxc5 25.Bxd5? Rbd8 26.Rd1 Bd6 27.Rh5 g6 28.Qh6 Qg7; or
24.Bxd5 Rbd8 25.dxc5 (25.Be4 Rxd4) 25...Bxc5] 24...Rbd8 25.dxc5 Bxc5 26.R5e2 Nc6 27.Rd1 Bb4
28.Qc2 Diagram

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28...Bxa5?! [A key point. Black wins a second pawn after 28...d4! ] 29.Bxd5 Nb4 30.Qe4 Nxd5 31.Rxd5
Rxd5 32.Qxd5 Bc7 [32...g6] 33.g3 Rd8 [33...Qd6!] 34.Kg2 g6 35.Qb7 Qb6 36.Qe4 Qf6 37.Qb7 Qb6
38.Qe4 Kg7 [38...Bd6! 39.Rc2 Bf8]

39.Rc2 Now there are several threats and White has just about equalized. 39...Bd6 [39...Rd6 40.Qe5+;
39...Qa7 40.Qe7 Bb6 41.Qxa7 Bxa7 42.Rc6] 40.Rc6 Qa7 [40...Qb7?? 41.Qd4+] 41.Qd3 [41.Rxd6?! Rxd6
42.Qe5+ Rf6 43.g4 h6 44.h4 g5 45.Nd4 Qb6 46.Nf5+ Kh7] 41...Qd7 [41...Qd7 42.Rxa6 and neither side felt
like playing on.] 1/2-1/2

Lugo,Blas (2399) - Wojtkiewicz,Alex (2539) [B27]
2005 US Chessmaster Championship San Diego (4), 28.11.2004

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 g6 The Hyper-Accelerated Dragon. One idea that differenentiates this line from the regular
Dragon (...d6 and ...g6) is that Black tries to play ...d5 in one move. 3.d4 cxd4 [3...Bg7 4.c4 Qb6 ia an active
way to avoid the Maroczy Bind (3...cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nc6 5.c4) that Wojt often employs.] 4.Qxd4 Since Black
has avoided the Rossolimo (2...Nc6 3.Bb5) White avoids the Accelerated Dragon (4.Nxd4 g6).

4...Nf6 5.e5 This was White's first try in the position but until recently [5.Nc3 and; 5.Bb5 have enjoyed
more popularity.] 5...Nc6 6.Qa4 [6.Qh4? Nxe5! wins a pawn.] 6...Nd5 7.Qe4 Ndb4 This is the traditional
continuation but [7...Nc7 is definitely safer.]

8.Bb5 [8.a3? d5 9.exd6!? Bf5 is Black's idea.] 8...Qa5 9.Nc3 d5 10.exd6 Bf5 11.Qe5 This forcing
continuation has recently cast doubt on Black's opening play. The White Queen will go on a
material-grabbing raid and Black has difficulties getting at the enemy King. 11...0-0-0 12.Qxh8 Nxc2+
13.Ke2 Nxa1 14.Qxh7 Nc2 Diagram

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Alex, who has been rediscovering theory at the board, deviates from the previously played 14...Be6, but it is
not clear if Black has a way out of his difficulties. [14...Be6 15.Rd1 a6 16.Bxc6 Bc4+ 17.Ke1 bxc6 18.d7+
Kb7 19.Qh4 Bxa2 20.b4 Nc2+ 21.Kf1 Nxb4 22.Nxa2 Nxa2 23.Qd4 Nc3 24.Be3 Nb5 25.Rb1 Ka8 26.Qc5
Qc7 27.Ne5 e6 28.Qb6 c5 29.Qxc7 Nxc7 30.Nc6 and White went on to win in Souleidis-Brendel, Basel
2004.]

15.Rd1 One of White's options is to walk his King to g1. 15...e5 16.Rd5 [16.Bg5 also looks like a very
dangerous continuation.. White's plan is based on capturing on f7 and advancing the d-pawn.]

16...N6d4+ 17.Nxd4 Nxd4+ 18.Ke1 [18.Kf1 is an interesting alternative trying to tuck the King away. It
looks like a draw is a likely result. For example: 18...Nxb5 19.Qxf7 Bxd6 20.Nxb5 Bd3+ 21.Rxd3 Qxb5
22.Qd5 Qa6 23.Qe6+ Rd7 24.Qg8+ Rd8 (24...Kc7 25.Qd5) 25.Qe6+ with perpetual check. Lugo bravely
maintains his King in the center.]

18...Qb4 19.d7+ Kb8 20.Qxf7 [20.Qh8 Qe7 21.Qxe5+ Qxe5+ 22.Rxe5 Nxb5 23.Nxb5 Bxd7 Black's two
Bishops provide some compensation. 24.Bf4] 20...Bd6 [20...Nc2+ 21.Kf1 Qh4 22.Kg1 is a good example of
how White can quickly consolidate.] 21.a3 Qb3 Diagram

[I saw 21...Nc2+ lost to 22.Kf1 Nxa3 23.Bg5 BL.] 22.Qe8 At this point Blas was in extreme time pressure,
his only remaining time was the 30 second increment. Had he not been in zeitnot he no doubt would have
spotted [22.Bg5 Qxb2 (or 22...Bxd7 23.Bxd8 Qxb2 when 24.Ba5 does the trick.) 23.Nd1 winning.] 22...Bc7
23.Rxe5

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[23.Rxd4 exd4 24.Bf4 Qe6+ looks okay for Black but 25.Kf1! wins for White.; I looked at 23.Rc5 Qc2
24.Qxd8+ Bxd8 25.Rc8#! but noticed 23...Bxd7! at the last moment. The problem with this game was there
were so many possibilities! - BL.]

23...a6 24.Bf4 [24.Rxf5 fails to 24...gxf5 25.Bf4 Ne6] 24...Bxd7 25.Bxd7 Nc2+ 26.Kd2 Ka7 27.Qxd8
[Here I missed a win with 27.Qe7 BL] 27...Bxd8 28.Ba4 Qc4 29.Re4 Nd4 30.Be3 Bb6 31.Bc2 [31.Bd1
Nb3+ 32.Ke1 would have ended the game, I had only 3 seconds left when I played 31.Bd1.] 31...Nb3+
Diagram

32.Bxb3 [Again 32.Ke1! Qc6 33.Bxb3] 32...Qxb3 33.Rb4 Bxe3+ 34.Kxe3 Qc2 35.g3 Qc1+ 36.Ke2 b5
37.h4 Qc2+ 38.Ke3 Kb6 39.Nd5+ [In principal White would like to trade the queenside pawns but here
39.a4? runs into 39...Ka5 Even I could get in a4 and axb5 Black could answer with ...a5 and capture the b2
pawn. BL]

39...Kc5 40.Nf4 Now White threatens Nd3 with a winning reconfiguration. The Knight frees the Rook from
the defense of b2 and g6 will soon fall.However it is Black's move and White doesn't have time to
implement his plan. 40...Qc1+ 41.Ke2 Qc2+ 42.Ke3 Qc1+ 43.Ke2 Qc2+ 44.Ke3 1/2-1/2

11.28.04 –

Blogger: Former FIDE World championship challenger GM Gata Kamsky

I'm still playing terribly, trying not to make mistakes. Playing like that there's always a chance you'll miss
something exciting.

I was just putting pieces in pretty positions today, hoping he'd make a mistake somewhere. He played the
opening well, but then started slipping. Instead of 39...Kh8?? he should have taken on e3, sacrificing the
queen. The variation went 39...Qxe3 40.fxe3 Rxe4 41.Qd7+ R8e7 42.Qxd6 Bg5! OMG !!!

P.S. I'm just reminded to say hi to all my friends out there. Wave !!! Hiya guys !! :-) Keep wishing me well.
:-)

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2005 US Chess Championship

Blogger: FM Lev Milman

Hi everyone! It's great to be here in San Diego with all of my family and friends. I miss all you guys in
school! I started off poorly, losing my first two games, but I have gotten my touch back. I have finally
starting winning again.

I decided to play a MacCutcheon today after having lost with the Najdorf earlier this tournament. I was a bit
nervous but my opponent panicked near the end, unnecessarily sacrificing an exchange, helping me out quite
a bit.

Blogger: Laura Ross

When it rains, it pours! I just finished my game with IM Ron Burnett and lost. A lot of things went wrong. I
guess my first mistake was preparing badly by neglecting to study for the move- rder I was most
uncomfortable with and spent time preparing for b3-stuff, if that makes any sense. Ron played what I

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usually play as white, the Panov Attack and I thought quite a lot in the opening but couldn't come up with a
good move-order response. Then I decided not to develop my pieces, something I am always telling my
students but I thought I could hold the position when in actuality I could not. Well, tomorrow is a new day
and my fortune cookie did guarantee me “luck in the near future...” hahah later. Oh and a shout-out to my
uncle David~

Laura Ross hanging out with the wrong crowd. Press officer John Henderson.

round 4 pairings and results

Bd White Res Black
1 GM Igor Novikov ½ GM Sergey Kudrin
2 GM Alex Stripunsky 1-0 GM Gregory Kaidanov
3 GM Nick DeFirmian 0-1 GM Hikaru Nakamura
4 IM Eugene Perelshteyn ½ GM Boris Gulko
5 IM Renier Gonzalez 0-1 GM Alexander Shabalov
6 GM Alexander Onischuk 0-1 GM Alexander Fishbein
7 GM Ildar Ibragimov ½ IM Levon Altounian
8 IM Cyrus Lakdawala ½ GM Varuzhan Akobian
9 GM Alex Yermolinsky ½ GM Walter Browne
10 IM Ben Finegold 0-1 IM Dmitry Schneider
11 IM Stanislav Kriventsov 0-1 GM Joel Benjamin
12 GM Larry Christiansen ½ FM Dmitry Zilberstein
13 GM Gregory Serper 1-0 WGM Anna Zatonskih
14 IM Blas Lugo ½ GM Aleks Wojtkiewicz
15 GM Yury Shulman 1-0 WIM Tsagaan Battsetseg
16 GM Gata Kamsky 1-0 IM Yury Lapshun
17 GM Alexander Goldin 1-0 FM Marcel Martinez
18 GM Alexander Ivanov ½ FM Joshua Friedel
19 FM Robby Adamson 0-1 GM Julio Becerra
20 GM Dmitry Gurevich 1-0 FM Matt Hoekstra
21 FM Bruci Lopez 0-1 IM Jesse Kraai
22 WGM Rusudan Goletiani 1-0 FM Tegshuren Enkhbat
23 WIM Jennifer Shahade 0-1 IM Irina Krush

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24 FM Michael Casella 0-1 FM Lev Milman
25 FM Stephen Muhammad ½ FM Fabio La Rota
26 Jake Kleiman ½ GM Anatoly Lein
27 IM Ron Burnett 1-0 WFM Laura Ross
28 Salvijus Bercys 1-0 Iryna Zenyuk
29 WIM Esther Epstein ½ WIM Anna Hahn
30 WFM Anna Levina 0-1 WFM Tatev Abrahamyan
31 Tatiana Vayserberg 1-0 WFM Olga Sagalchik
32 Chouchanik Airapetian 0-1 Vanessa West

Round 3 review: And one shall lead them

11.26.04 – It took a surprisingly short time for the 2005 Championship to create a sole leader in this
incredibly tough event. The leader is also something of a surprise. Grandmaster Sergey Kudrin has already
won as many games as he won in the entire 2003 Championship!

GM Sergey Kudrin with a winning smile.

Kudrin finished with three wins and three losses in the 2003 Championship in Seattle. This year he has raced
out to three wins in a row, and each win has come against a very tough opponent. His latest victim was GM
Ildar Ibragimov, his neighbor in Connecticut. Ibragimov had a promising attacking position with black but
erred on the final move of the first time control, sacrificing a knight instead of liquidating to a drawn
endgame with 40...Rxh3+.

Kudrin has a long history in the US Championship, but it isn't a particularly distinguished one. He has never
been in contention for the title, something he looks intent on changing here in San Diego. Kudrin is renown
for his expertise in the Dragon Sicilian, one of the sharpest lines in all of chess. We're sure he'd rather be

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known for winning $25,000 and the Champion's title!

Nakamura couldn't dent "Top Gun" Stripunsky.

The other leaders played a relatively short draw. Nakamura couldn't get anywhere against Stripunsky's
surprising queen lunge in the Sicilian and the game was drawn in 25 moves. They were joined at 2.5/3 by
round three winners Nick De Firmian, Igor Novikov, and Gregory Kaidanov.

FM Marcel Martinez held GM Kamsky to a draw.

Again notable was rating favorite Gata Kamsky's failure to win against an opponent who was overmatched
on paper. Miami FM Marcel Martinez, a former US Junior Champion, held Kamsky to a draw in a very
tough endgame. We talked with Gata when he came by the press room but he said he wouldn't blog until he
won a game! He said that while he wasn't playing great, his opponents had all played excellently and just
wouldn't help him out by making any mistakes.

Some other former champions made their moves this round. Joel Benjamin scored his first win, against
youngest participant Salvijus Bercys. Joel's blog entry on his game (and the accompanying photo) is not to
be missed! Defending champion Alexander Shabalov continued his way back to the top by winning his
second game in a row.

We were all kept waiting by Alexander Fishbein and Bruci Lopez. They played the longest game of the
tournament by far, 124 moves! It paid off for Fishbein, who enjoys a long technical grind as well as anyone.
Despite having what many thought was the worse position, he outplayed the young Floridian and converted
the win in just under seven hours.

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2005 US Chess Championship

Battsetseg (right) beat Krush with sharp tactics.

The women's event got more interesting as Tsagaan Battsetseg caught up to Anna Zatonskih. They have
taken very different paths to their 2/3 scores. Zatonskih has defeated one of the top players and drawn with
two other strong GMs. Battsetseg lost to her only GM opponent, but today scored an impressive win against
women's top seed Irina Krush. Krush uncharacteristically missed a tactical shot and was quickly wiped out.

Julio Becerra was again Mr. Excitement. He played another slugfest, but this time he came out on the losing
side against Novikov. You can see that game with commentary below

We don't know what GM Alexander Ivanov was looking for, but he stayed like this long enough for his
opponent Laura Ross to wonder if he'd gone to sleep. He hadn't, and he won convincingly.

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2005 US Chess Championship

Anna Levina (left) and Laura Ross signed the boards that will eventually bear the signature of all 64 players,
one on each square. They are being sold and auctioned to raise money for the Championships.

Iryna Zenyuk scored her first win, against Abrahamyan, to avoid the dreaded triple zero. Five other players
weren't so lucky.

round 3 games annotated by international masters john watson and john donaldson with commentary
by the players

Shabalov,Alex (2689) - Burnett,Ron (2423) [B33]
2005 US Chessmaster Championship San Diego (3), 26.11.2004
[IMs Donaldson and Watson; GM Shabalov]

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 e5 6.Ndb5 d6 7.Bg5 a6 8.Na3 b5 9.Bxf6 gxf6 10.Nd5 Bg7
AS This is a safer move order than 10....f5 which allows White to play the dangerous line 11. Bxb5
variations. 11.c3 [AS There is a great deal of theory after 11.Bd3 Ne7 so I preferred to play something a
little bit less common as Ron has only recenty started playing the Sveshnikov variation.] 11...f5 12.exf5

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Bxf5 13.Nc2 0-0 14.Nce3 Be6 15.Bd3

AS White is attracted to this line by Black's loose pawn structure. 15...f5 16.Qh5 AS Normally White
castles here but I wanted to play Rd1 and Bc2 first restricting Black's play. [Note that after 16.0-0 f4 doesn't
win a piece due to 17.Qh5 h6 18.Qg6 and Black is in trouble.] 16...e4 17.Bc2 Ne7 AS A main theme of the
Sveshnikov challenges the d5 square. [17...f4 18.Bxe4] 18.Nf4 after a 30 minute thought. 18...Bf7 19.Bb3
Qd7 [AS 19...d5 20.Qg5 and Rd1with strong pressure against d5.] 20.Rd1 Be5 21.g3 Diagram

21...Kg7? Ron wants to resolve the pin without improving White's pawn structure but this move is too slow.
[21...Bxb3 22.axb3 Bxf4 23.gxf4 Qe6=] 22.Bxf7 Rxf7 23.Nh3! AS The threat of Ng5 wins an important
tempo. 23...Kg8 24.0-0 Rg7 25.f4 AS Switching to play positional play. 25...exf3 [25...Bf6 If 26.Rd2 idea
Rfd1 and Nf2.]

26.Qxf3 Rf8 27.Nf4 Kh8 28.Kh1 Ng6 29.Neg2! As White preserves his play against Black's weaknesses.
29...Bxf4 30.Nxf4 Nxf4 31.Qxf4 Rf6 32.Rd5 Qc6 33.Qd4 preparing Kg1 followed by picking off Black's
pawns. 33...f4 Diagram

34.Kg1! Qc4 35.Qxf6! White calculates accurately to the end. 35...Qxd5 36.Rxf4 Qxa2 37.Qxd6 Rf8+
followed by Qf6 is mate! 37...h5 38.Rf8+ [38.Rf8+ Kh7 39.Qd3+ Rg6 40.Qd7+ Rg7 41.Qf5+ Rg6 42.Rf7+
Kh6 43.Qf4+ Rg5 44.Rf6+ is a pretty finishing windmill theme.] 1-0

Becerra,J (2537) - Novikov,I (2588) [B80]
2005 US Chessmaster Championship San Diego (3), 26.11.2004

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2005 US Chess Championship

[IMs Watson and Donaldson]

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Be3 e6 7.f3 b5 8.g4 Nfd7 9.Qd2 Nb6 10.0-0-0 N8d7
11.Ndxb5 axb5 12.Nxb5 Ne5

[Almost a new move and seemingly a very strong one. The usual move has been 12...Ba6 , about which
there is a great deal of theory. For example, here are some game fragments: 13.Nxd6+ Bxd6 14.Qxd6 Bxf1
(14...Nc4 15.Bxc4 Bxc4 16.Qd4 Rxa2 17.Kb1 Qc8 18.Qxg7 Rf8 19.Rxd7 Kxd7 20.Rd1+ and White was
winning in Browne-Wojtkiewicz, Fort Lauderdale 2004.) 15.Bxb6 Qg5+ 16.f4 Qb5 17.Rhxf1 (17.Qxd7+
Qxd7 18.Rxd7 Kxd7 19.Rxf1 Rxa2 20.Rd1+ Kc6 21.Bd4 was about equal in the battle of computers
ANMON-CHESSWIZARD, Massy 2004) 17...Nxb6 18.b3 Nd7 19.f5 Nc5? Handke-Hillarp Persson,
Reykjavik 2004 ,and here it looks like 20.fxe6! Nxe6 (20...fxe6 21.b4! Qxb4 22.Qc6+) 21.a4 Qb7 22.Rxf7!
with a winnin g attack. Black should have tried ...0-0-0, but White is still better. So perhaps White simply
has the advantage after 17.Rhxf1. Only the experts know.]

13.Qc3 Threatening Nc7+. 13...Na4 14.Qc7 White has to play this or lose the initiative: [14.Qd4 Nxf3;
14.Qb3 h5! 15.gxh5 Rxh5] 14...Bd7 15.b3?! [15.Be2] 15...Qf6! This improves dramatically over the only
game that we could find in this line: [15...Nxf3 16.bxa4 Qf6 and now White had 17.Kb1! with advantage]
16.bxa4 Qxf3 This looks risky but Black's position proves solid.

17.Bd4 Qxe4 18.Qc3 This looks like a retreat but it's White's only chance to force the king into danger.
18...Rc8 19.Nc7+ Kd8 20.Bb6 At first Black looks in trouble. How does he stop the discovered check?
20...Qxh1! Diagram

He doesn't! A well-calculated sequence follows. 21.Nd5+! [21.Nxe6+? Ke7 loses even more material.;
21.Ba6 Qc6; 21.Bb5 and not 21...Qf3?? 22.Nd5+ Ke8 23.Qxc8 checkmate. But 21...Qb7! , hitting the b6
bishop, wins] 21...Ke8 22.Qxc8+! the best chance. 22...Bxc8 23.Bb5+ Nd7 24.Rxh1 exd5 White is a piece
down but hopes to cause trouble with his a-pawn. 25.Re1+ Be7 26.Bc7 [26.Bd4!? was another try, although
with care Black unwinds.]

26...Kf8 27.a5 Nc5 28.a6!? Ne6! [28...Nxa6?! 29.Bxd6 has the idea 29...Bxd6 30.Re8# ,although 29...Be6
isn't bad.] 29.Bb8 Bg5+ 30.Kd1 Ke7 31.a7 Bb7 Now the a-pawn has been stopped and Black is just a piece
ahead. The rest is not too interesting. 32.Ke2 d4 33.Rb1 Rc8 34.Ba6 Bxa6+ 35.Kd1 [35.Ke1 Bh4+! 36.Kd2
Nc7 37.Bxc7 Bg5+ 38.Ke1 Ra8 wins] 35...Be2+! 36.Kxe2 Rxc2+ 37.Kd3 Rxa2 38.Rb7+ Kf6 39.Bxd6
Ra4 40.Bb4 Be3 41.h4 h6 42.h5 g6 43.Ke4 Bf4 44.Be7+ Kg7 45.Kd3 Bc7 46.Kc2 d3+ 47.Kxd3 Be5 0-1

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2005 US Chess Championship

11.27.04 –

Blogger: Six-time US Champion Walter browne

Hello Chess Fans! After a smooth win in Rd #1 and an exciting hard-fought draw with Christiansen in Rd
#2, I was stopped cold for a draw in Rd #3 when Ben Finegold came up with 10..f5! TN in the Classical
Defense followed by ..Qh6!. When I was offered a draw he had an edge on the clock and I had nothing.

1.e4! doesn't mean blindly playing for a win! I'm now 9.5-1.5 since returning to 1.e4 at the US Open after 28
years!!!!

I worked Monday morning to 7am then suddenly Wednesday I had to awake at 7:30am to catch a flight to
La Jolla, CA!! It felt like jet lag, but should be fine thanks to Mig Greengard and John Henderson helping
me with some computer problems.

Gata Kamsky has had 3 tough draws and hopefully will start winning soon because his presence here makes
the event even more exciting. In fact this is most likely the most exciting US Ch. Since Fischer played. Also
the strongest US ch. ever!!

Ibragimov looked like a winner near the end of time control vs Kudrin, but Sergey came up with a great
defense and then Ibragimov he got down to just 2 minutes and collapsed! Larry Christiansen made a great
effort against Dmitry Schneider, but was only rewarded with a draw. Alex Stripunsky played solidly for a
split point with Nakamura.

11.26.04 –

Blogger: GM Varuzhan Akobian

Hello everybody. I've just finished my game and it ended in a draw. It was a kind of complicated endgame.
My only mistake of the game was 19.Nb3 which prevented me from gaining an advantage. Tomorrow is a
day off, which came just in time! Thanks a lot to all my fans.

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2005 US Chess Championship

GM Varuzhan Akobian with visiting friend GM Victor Mikhailevski of Israel.

Blogger: WGM Anna Zatonskih

Hi everyone. Today I drew for the first time against Wojtkiewicz. I've played him three or four times before
and I lost every game, so this is a good result! All the previous games with him I played black, like today.
Bye, see you after the off day!

Blogger: GM joel benjamin

Schoolhouse rock, baby! Schoolhouse ROCK!!

GM Benjamin before rocking the tourney's youngest player, Bercys.

Blogger: GM gregory serper

Hello fellow chessplayers! I thought I would share a little secret how to win all of your games. It's really
simple. Before your game just watch how Garry does it. You can feel how his energy slowly comes to you.
It worked for me: Kasparov beat Timofeev easily and so did I (against 2003 women's champion Anna
Hahn). So I thought that the US title was in the bag already. Unfortunately this technique has its drawbacks,
as I learnt today. Kasparov drew his game against Morozevich and I knew that I was doomed! My opponent
offered a draw in the opening, I rejected it, but then I missed a threefold repetition of the position. Damn!
Please Garry, please! I am rooting for ya!

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2005 US Chess Championship

Blogger: IM CYrus Lakdawala

Howdy! I got very lucky against Jennifer Shahade today. She dug up a crushing move vs. a line in the Berlin
Lopez from a game from 1900. But she got into time pressure and threw away a winning game.

My wife Nancy was sleepwalking last night. She picks up her cell phone and calls our own house at 2:00
a.m.! I couldn't get back to sleep for hours and ended up sleepwalking in my game against Jennifer.

Come visit the San Diego Chess Club, 2225 6th Ave (corner of 6th and Ivy). It's open 7 days a week. Cy
Lakdawala

blogger: FM Matt Hoekstra

Hello all, today i won, and not surprisingly was the first day I felt like blogging. I'm certainly not playing my
best chess at the moment so it just means I'll have to fight for every point I can get. Dressing as European as
possible is definitely the first step towards victory. I'm enjoying San Diego as it is a beautiful city and very

Page 78 / 104
2005 US Chess Championship

well organized thanks to Erik Anderson and others. Thanks to my fellow competitors for indulging me in the
great political conversation. Shout out to all my fellow players in NC and my great friends at Duke and
DKE. Hello to dearest mother and father of course. I'll be back to talk later. Yours Truly.

blogger: WFM anna levina

Hello, well today's game wasn't that great, mildly speaking. I came out with a decent position out of the
opening, but spent too much time thinking and made a mistake which cost me at least a draw. At least I got
to play a decent game against Matthew, and actually had a win at one point. anyway hello to everyone at
Duke who is reading this, and I hope that I will do better next game. Go Blue Devils!

blogger: LAURA ROSS

YO What's good? Not my game..lol but that's ok cuz I played Mr.GM Ivanov, but we can just pretend it is

Page 79 / 104
2005 US Chess Championship

yesterday where I had a fun-to-play game as opposed to today where I was schooled, Anywayyy enough
chess talk, San Diego rox my sox its warm!!, I don't have to wear my big coat, gloves n hat like in New
York and I get to stay at a five-star hotel. Yay. Free day manana, yay! To all my friends who AREN'T
reading this I miss u and I hope you all are enjoying Thanksgiving break and I hope Bronx Science didn't
give u loads of hw....mwa.

round three pairings and results

Bd White Res Black
1 GM Hikaru Nakamura ½ GM Alex Stripunsky
2 GM Sergey Kudrin 1-0 GM Ildar Ibragimov
3 GM Gregory Kaidanov 1-0 GM Dmitry Gurevich
4 GM Boris Gulko ½ GM Yury Shulman
5 GM Julio Becerra 0-1 GM Igor Novikov
6 IM Levon Altounian ½ GM Alexander Onischuk
7 GM Varuzhan Akobian ½ IM Renier Gonzalez
8 GM Nick DeFirmian 1-0 IM Yury Lapshun
9 GM Walter Browne ½ IM Ben Finegold
10 IM Dmitry Schneider ½ GM Larry Christiansen
11 FM Dmitry Zilberstein ½ GM Gregory Serper
12 GM Aleks Wojtkiewicz ½ WGM Anna Zatonskih (w)
13 FM Marcel Martinez ½ GM Gata Kamsky
14 FM Joshua Friedel ½ GM Alexander Goldin
15 GM Alexander Shabalov 1-0 IM Ron Burnett
16 GM Anatoly Lein 0-1 GM Alex Yermolinsky
17 GM Joel Benjamin 1-0 Salvijus Bercys
18 WGM Rusudan Goletiani (w) 0-1 IM Eugene Perelshteyn
19 GM Alexander Fishbein 1-0 FM Bruci Lopez
20 WIM Jennifer Shahade (w) 0-1 IM Cyrus Lakdawala
21 FM Fabio La Rota 0-1 IM Stanislav Kriventsov
22 IM Jesse Kraai 0-1 IM Blas Lugo
23 IM Irina Krush (w) 0-1 WIM Tsagaan Battsetseg (w)

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2005 US Chess Championship

24 WFM Laura Ross (w) 0-1 GM Alexander Ivanov
25 FM Matt Hoekstra 1-0 WIM Esther Epstein (w)
26 WIM Anna Hahn (w) 0-1 FM Robby Adamson
27 FM Tegshsuren Enkhbat 1-0 WFM Anna Levina (w)
28 FM Lev Milman 1-0 Chouchanik Airapetian (w)
29 WFM Olga Sagalchik (w) 0-1 FM Stephen Muhammad
30 Vanessa West (w) 0-1 FM Michael Casella
31 Jake Kleiman 1-0 Tatiana Vayserberg (w)
32 Iryna Zenyuk (w) 1-0 WFM Tatev Abrahamyan (w)

round 2 review: Giving thanks for exciting chess

11.25.04 – While the rest of the country was sitting down to turkey, gravy, and football, the players of the
US Chessmaster Championship were battling hard. Even with the prospect of a Thanksgiving banquet
awaiting the players, of the 32 games only two fell into the category of what we call "Grandmaster draws."
That is, short games that are agreed drawn without a fight. Those four players are going to find it hard to get
back in the running for the $5,000 Bent Larsen Prize for fighting chess that is up for grabs this year.

Leading the way were two legends of the US Championship and US chess. GMs Walter Browne and Larry
Christiansen have nine US titles between them. That's six for Browne and three for Big Larry. They played
each other for the first time in 1972, when Browne was 23 and Christiansen was a tender 16. Almost half the
field wasn't even born when that game was played!

We meet again: Christiansen makes another move against Browne.

They showed the kids how it's done with a great fighting game out of an unorthodox opening. Christiansen
moved the same knight six times in the first 17 moves just to see it traded off. We doubt he'll include that tip
in his next book! Browne, who works as a house poker player in a Reno casino, was happy to gamble a bit
with the black pieces. In the end it all came out even, the players going all the way down to to a king and
pawn each before agreeing to a draw.

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2005 US Chess Championship

Teen GM Hikaru Nakamura was again one of the first players to score the
full point. Cyrus Lakdawala tried to match his opponent's typically fast
play but all he got for his efforts was a quick loss. You can't tell from the
game score because the game lasted 42 moves, but it was over in less than
two hours.

Left: San Diego IM Cyrus Lakdawala before the game, explaining that he
was going to need a little help from above in his round two game against
Nakamura. Sorry Cyrus, request denied!

The win made Nakamura one of only four players with a perfect 2/2 score.
The others are Ibragimov, Stripunsky, and Kudrin. These four will battle it
out head-to-head in round three.

Cyrus can take consolation in that he wasn't the first player to taste defeat
today. That dubious honor went to Southern California FM Michael Casella. As he put it in his blog entry
after the game: "I just got Krushed by IKrush." True enough. He had the white pieces against IM Irina Krush
but lasted just 19 moves. In the commentary room after the game he watched Krush explain her quick
victory to the online and offline spectators. He lamented, "My preparation was deeper than hers, how did she
get the point?!"

Brooklyn's IM Irina Krush in the commentary room with IM John Donaldson after her win. She's holding a
microphone that transmits her comments live to the fans listening at the ICC

Top-ranked player Gata Kamsky also made news by not making noise on the board for the second day in a
row. The former world championship challenger has been away from competitive chess for eight years (with
a brief appearance in 1999) and is easing back into the feel of top tournament chess. For the second day in a
row he had black against a much lower-rated opponent and the game was drawn.

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2005 US Chess Championship

Kamsky (left) drew with IM Dmitry Schneider.

Fremont, California's FM Dmitry Zilberstein came in to the media room in a quietly ecstatic mood. You
could tell he was very happy but didn't want to seem like he was bragging about the spectacular win he had
just scored over Grandmaster Alexander Ivanov. In fact, he barely said a word to us as he sat down to write
a blog entry, which says it all. He called his sacrificial demolition "probably one of the best games I ever
played." If it's not he must have quite a collection of brilliancies! You can see this exciting game with notes
and diagrams bellow

The clear leader of the women's championship continues to be WGM Anna Zatonskih of Bowling Green,
Ohio. A day after defeating the reigning US champ she drew with a former champion, GM Nick De Firmian.
Nick is a California boy who now makes his home in Denmark. We're not sure how his plan to go surfing
every morning before the round is going to work out.

Zatonskih on the stage against Nick De Firmian.

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2005 US Chess Championship

Defending women's champion Jennifer Shahade got on track by
beating Tegshsuren Enkhbat in a complicated game. Before the round
started we were joking with Shahade about her wardrobe, which was
considerably less formal than the previous round, when she lost. If she's
superstitious she might credit the change of look for her change of
fortune.

(Don't call us chauvinists. We realized long ago there was little point in
making wardrobe jokes with most of the male players.)

Apart from the heavyweight match-ups on the top boards, round three
offers several interesting pairings. This is GM Joel Benjamin's 22nd
consecutive US Championship! That's a record for appearances. He was
just 16 at his first event back in 1981.

Tomorrow he will play first-timer 16-year-old Salvijus Bercys. Only
time will tell if Bercys is embarking on a similar streak, but we know he
won't get any mercy from GM Benjamin, who is still looking for his
first win.

There are still eleven players without a point and they are going to be getting desperate tomorrow. Nobody
likes to start a tournament by "castling long"! (That's 0-0-0 in chess notation for you newbies out there.)

The Terminator look is working for GM Alex Stripunsky. He's 2/2 after beating IM Stanislav Kriventsov in
this game.

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2005 US Chess Championship

FM Matt Hoekstra (right) was late to the game and was last to finish. He drew his fellow Duke Blue Devil
WFM Anna Levina in a six-hour tussle.

FM Michael Casella (left) wants to know how he lost to IM Irina Krush in 19 moves. IM Yury Lapshun
looks on.

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2005 US Chess Championship

If you think he looks depressed now... GM Alexander Ivanov before falling victim to Zilberstein's
spectacular mating attack.

round 2 games annotated by international masters john watson and john donaldson with commentary
by the players

Ivanov,A (2582) - Zilberstein,D (2379) [C78]
US Championship 2005 San Diego USA (2), 25.11.2004

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 b5 6.Bb3 Bc5 7.a4 Rb8 8.c3 d6 9.d4 Bb6 10.Na3 A line that
was popular about 5 years ago among the world's elite. 10...0-0 Black gambits a pawn for activity and
pressure on the center. Games between players like Shirov, Leko, and Anand eventually seemed to show an
advantage for White, but recently this verdict is being challenged again.

11.axb5 axb5 12.Nxb5 exd4 13.cxd4 Bg4 14.Ra4 Re8 15.Bc2!? Not the normal move. White usually plays
Re1 or Bg5. 15...Qd7! Indirectly attacking the N on b5 and as we shall see, allowing the queen to infiltrate
White's position. 16.Nc3 Bxf3 17.gxf3 [17.Qxf3? Nxd4] 17...Qh3 18.Be3 Diagram

Page 86 / 104
2005 US Chess Championship

This seems very solid and it's hard to believe that Black has any attack. But with a series of brilliant moves,
Dmitry Zilberstein shows otherwise: 18...Re5!! 19.Re1 [19.dxe5 Nxe5 and suddenly White has no defense
against ...Nxf3+.] 19...Rh5 20.Bf4 With a bishop coming to g3 it looks like Ivanov has successfully
defended. 20...Rh4! 21.Bg3 Nh5! A key move. On 22.Bxh4, 22...Nf4 mates next move. 22.Re2 Diagram

to defend along the 2nd rank but also with hopes of stopping the attack by Qf1. 22...Ne5! Beautiful. Now
there are too many pieces in the attack. To begin with Black threatens ...Nxf3+. 23.Rd2 [23.dxe5 Nxg3 and
White has no way to recapture because of the pin on f2.] 23...Nf4 24.Bxf4 Giving up the queen is forced, in
view of [24.Qf1 Nxf3+ 25.Kh1 Qxh2+ 26.Bxh2 Rxh2#] 24...Nxf3+ 25.Qxf3 Qxf3 Black has a queen for
two pieces, plenty to win.

26.Bg3 Rh6 27.Nd5 Re6 [or 27...Qg4 ] 28.Ra3 Qh5 29.Kg2 Ree8 30.Bf4 c6 [30...f6 was easier, giving the
queen an escape square on f7.] 31.Rh3 Qg4+ 32.Rg3 Qh4 33.Bg5 This seems to trap Black's queen due to
33...Qh5 34.Nf4, but Black cashes in some of his material: 33...Qxg3+ 34.hxg3 cxd5 35.exd5 Ba5! 36.Rd3
Rxb2 Diagram

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2005 US Chess Championship

Now the 2 rooks dominate. The rest is easy to understand: 37.Bd1 Be1 38.Be3 Ra8 39.Kf1 Bb4 40.Bg4
Rb1+ 41.Kg2 Ra2 42.Bf4 Ra3 43.Rxa3 Bxa3 44.Be2 Kf8 45.g4 Ke7 46.Kf3 Bc1 47.Bd3 Ra1 48.Bg3 Ra4
49.Bxh7 g6 50.Bh4+ Kf8 51.Bf6 Bh6 0-1

Onischuk,A (2653) - Becerra,J (2537) [D45]
US Championship 2005 San Diego USA (2), 25.11.2004

1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Nf3 e6 5.e3 Nbd7 6.Qc2 Bd6 7.g4 This amazing move was invented by Alex
Shabalov, the defending U.S. Champion, and then taken up by Shirov followed by many top players.
Shabalov and Shirov both hail from Latvia and often prepared together as youths. 7...dxc4 [7...Nxg4 8.Rg1
and White will win the g-pawn with a very active game even if he loses another pawn.] 8.Bxc4 b6 To
develop the problem on c8.

9.e4 Bb7! It seems that Black will lose a piece, but he has countertactics. 10.e5 c5 11.exf6 Bxf3 12.fxg7
Rg8 13.Qxh7 What a cost! Black has to writhe to survive. And yet, the tactics are just sufficient. 13...Nf6
14.Bb5+ Ke7 15.Bg5 Now Black is totally tied up, but... 15...Bf4! 16.Qh3 White correctly sacrifices the
exchange to keep his attack rolling. [16.Bxf4? Nxh7] 16...Bxh1 17.Bxf4 Qxd4! Active defense is best. This
looks risky due to the attack down the d-file, but Black plays for the initiative.

18.Qg3 Ne4 19.Qh4+ [19.Nxe4 Qxe4+ 20.Be2 is another option, but Black can hold the balance, for
example, 20...Rad8 21.Bg5+ f6 22.Qc7+ Rd7 23.Bxf6+ Kxf6 24.Qxd7 Bf3 25.Qd2 Bxe2 26.Qxe2 Qh1+
27.Qf1 Qe4+ 28.Qe2] 19...Qf6 20.g5 White needs to keep the queens on the board for attack and he gains a
tempo for 0-0-0. 20...Qxg7 21.0-0-0 White was threatening Rd7+ and Nxe4 followed by Bd6+.

21...Rad8 22.g6+ This leads to a draw. [Becerra mentioned the possibility of 22.Rxh1 Rh8 23.Be5! Qxe5
24.Qxe4 Qxg5+ 25.f4 Qf6 is probably okay for Black. This needs to be explored] 22...f6 23.Rxh1 Rh8
24.Qg4 Nxf2 25.Qf3 Nxh1 Diagram

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2005 US Chess Championship

26.Bd6+! This is the only move and it draws. A mistake is [26.Qb7+ Kf8 27.Bd6+? Kg8! and White's attack
has run out. (27...Rxd6 28.Qb8+ Ke7 29.Qc7+ Kf8 30.Qxd6+ Qe7 31.g7+!) ; 26.Qxh1 e5] 26...Kxd6
[26...Rxd6 27.Qb7+ Kf8 28.Qb8+ Ke7 29.Qc7+ Kf8 30.Qxd6+ Qe7 (30...Kg8 31.Qxe6+ Kf8 32.Qc8+ Ke7
33.Qd7+ Kf8 34.Qe8#) 31.g7+ Kxg7 32.Qxe7+] 27.Qc6+ Ke5 [27...Ke7? 28.Qc7+ gets mated.] 28.Qe4+
1/2-1/2

11.25.04 –

bloggers: la mafia cubana esta presente en san diego!

GM Julio becerra

Greetings to everyone in my hometown of Miami FL and to everyone following the results of the FIVE
CUBANS in this event.

FM Marcel Martinez

Greetings to my family... Mom, Dad and my patient wife Jessica......

IM Blas Lugo

Greetings to all the Miami FL fans and to my wife Maidelin Lugo and coming Daughter Dalila Caissa Lugo

FM Bruci Lopez

Greetings to the family in my hometown of Miami FL Mom Dad and the friends that follow me on ICC and
at home.

[See IM Renier Gonzalez's blog entry below.]

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Clockwise from top left: Lugo, Lopez, Becerra, Martinez, Gonzalez

blogger: fm dmitry zilberstein

Hi, Happy Thanksgiving to everyone and to my friends who are following this US Championship!!! I feel
great after today's game. It was probably one of the best games I ever played. I don't know about brilliancy,
but it sure was nice. The game featured Archangelsk variation I was able to find a way to create a strong
attack. Well, it's still 7 rounds to go, so it's too early to get euphoric. Well, take care everyone!

blogger: 1998 US Women's champion im irina krush

Hi everyone. I just read my opponent's blog entry for today, [Casella] and it's funny, cause I don't remember
our previous game at all, and certainly not that it was a Rauzer too! Well, I've played the Classical Sicilian
for many years I guess. He surprised me in the opening with Bf4, but somehow I got a good game pretty
quickly. Apparently my natural move Bb7 was a 'novelty'. Anyway I'm off to the dinner now!

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blogger: three-time us champion GM larry christiansen

Hi Chess fans!

Tough game today with Walter, roughly even all the way. We both slugged it out though until we virtually
reached King v King.

San Diego is a great site and the organization has been terrific. I wish my play was up to the championship
standards. Long way still to go. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

blogger: fm michael casella

I just got Krushed by IKrush. I had beaten her a long time ago before she was Krush. The question is, was I
Casella back then? As most Americans will agree, I am second only to Emory Tate in this country on the
White side of the Open Sicilian, with Nick De Firmian a distant third, but IKrush decided to insult me and
my preparation by allowing the Rauzer like she did 7 years ago. This time I lost in 19 moves, but I could
have resigned 5 moves earlier and hit the Thanksgiving dinner room a little earlier.

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Everyone is saying how nice San Diego is, but that's because they're not from Southern California. I
consider San Diego Lakdawala territory and normally steer well clear of it.

round two pairings and results

Bd White Res Black
1 GM Yury Shulman ½ GM Gregory Kaidanov
2 GM Alexander Goldin 0-1 GM Sergey Kudrin
3 GM Dmitry Gurevich ½ GM Boris Gulko
4 GM Igor Novikov ½ GM Aleks Wojtkiewicz
5 GM Alexander Onischuk ½ GM Julio Becerra
6 IM Cyrus Lakdawala 0-1 GM Hikaru Nakamura
7 GM Ildar Ibragimov 1-0 GM Alexander Fishbein
8 IM Yury Lapshun ½ GM Varuzhan Akobian
9 IM Stanislav Kriventsov 0-1 GM Alex Stripunsky
10 WGM Anna Zatonskih ½ GM Nick DeFirmian
11 IM Ben Finegold ½ IM Renier Gonzalez
12 GM Larry Christiansen ½ GM Walter Browne
13 GM Gata Kamsky ½ IM Dmitry Schneider
14 GM Alex Yermolinsky ½ IM Jesse Kraai
15 GM Alexander Ivanov 0-1 FM Dmitry Zilberstein
16 FM Bruci Lopez ½ GM Joel Benjamin
17 GM Gregory Serper 1-0 WIM Anna Hahn
18 IM Eugene Perelshteyn ½ FM Fabio La Rota
19 FM Robby Adamson 0-1 IM Levon Altounian
20 WIM Esther Epstein 0-1 GM Alexander Shabalov
21 FM Tegshsuren Enkhbat 0-1 WIM Jennifer Shahade
22 FM Michael Casella 0-1 IM Irina Krush

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23 FM Marcel Martinez 1-0 Jake Kleiman
24 WFM Tatev Abrahamyan 0-1 FM Joshua Friedel
25 WIM Tsagaan Battsetseg 1-0 FM Lev Milman
26 FM Stephen Muhammad 0-1 WFM Laura Ross
27 Chouchanik Airapetian 0-1 GM Anatoly Lein
28 IM Ron Burnett 1-0 WFM Olga Sagalchik
29 Salvijus Bercys 1-0 Vanessa West
30 IM Blas Lugo 1-0 Iryna Zenyuk
31 WFM Anna Levina ½ FM Matt Hoekstra
32 Tatiana Vayserberg 0-1 WGM Rusudan Goletiani

round one review

11.24.04 – Before the games began, the players united outside the playing hall for the traditional group
photo. With 64 players this is a lot harder than it sounds. Getting everyone to be on time and in position is
just about impossible, but we keep trying every year. AF4C president Erik Anderson was surrounded by the
players for this shot.

Say "Check!"

The first round of a Swiss-system tournament like the US Championship can be a brutal one. The top half of
the tournament, meaning the higher-rated 32, are paired with the lower half. So seed #1 (Kamsky) plays #33
(Kraai) and #32 plays #64, etc. This means just about every game is a sizable rating mismatch and most of
the games are decisive, often quickly.

Then there is the fun of waiting for the inevitable upset. With 32 games one of the lower-rated players is
almost certain to get a win against one of the heavyweights. There was exactly one such case this year and it
came on board one! (Technically, Gata Kamsky was board one because he is the highest-rated player, but
the AF4C places the defending champions on the top boards on the first day.)

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#1 seed Gata Kamsky waits on stage 10 minutes before game time.

We were watching the game Shabalov-Zatonskih with great interest. One, Alexander Shabalov's games are
almost always interesting, and two, he seemed to have gotten himself into a bit of trouble. Shabalov's attack
went awry and he was forced to sacrifice even more material in a desperate attempt to salvage a draw. It
looked as though the defending champion might be able to get away with a perpetual check draw, in which
the enemy king can't escape harassment.

But it was not to be. Zatonskih gave back a rook and had queen and bishop versus Shabalov's queen and
ragtag band of pawns. It wasn't much of a match at that point and Shabalov was forced to resign on move
47. It was at this point we remembered a little deal we had made with Anna before the round started. We had
encouraged her to come by to write at ChampBlog after her game, but she said she might not be in the mood
after her game with Shabalov. But she promised to come by if she won, and she did! Check out her blog
entry about her game

A promise kept! Zatonskih came to blog after beating the champ.

That was the biggest win of the round, but it was far from the first. That was notched by Renier Gonzalez of
Miami. His opponent, Seattle's Chouchanik Airapetian, blundered terribly early on and resigned on move 17.
She was dejected when she came into the press room, but was philosophical about the loss. When Gonzalez
came in they even sat down an watched the other games live on the Internet Chess Club together! (After
blogging, of course.)

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No hard feelings. Chouchanik Airapetian and Renier Gonzalez.

There was another serious disaster on the board in round one, but it came much later in the day. IM Steven
Muhammad had defended well against young star Hikaru Nakamura. But he had also gotten into serious
time trouble against the quick-moving Nakamura and made a fatal mistake just as it looked like the worst
was over.

Scene of the crime: Nakamura - Muhammad.

Round Two brings several intriguing pairings. A classic battle from the 80's is renewed as three-time
champion Larry Christiansen takes on six-time champ Walter Browne. The tournament's two youngest
players face off when 15-year-old Salvijus Bercys plays white against 16-year-old Vanessa West.

round 1 games annotated by international masters john watson and john donaldson with commentary
by the players

De Firmian,N (2550) - Lugo,B (2399) [C78]

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US Championships San Diego, California USA (1), 24.11.2004

1.e4 ND: This is a fighting tournament and here is an example of that. 1...e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6
5.0-0 b5 6.Bb3 Bb7 7.d3 [ND: There's a lot of sharp theory on c3. One idea of d3 is to limit the range of the
bishop on b7. 7.c3 ] 7...Bc5 8.Nc3 d6 9.a4 b4 10.Ne2 0-0 11.Ng3 Na5 12.Ba2 # 12...Bc8 [12...b3? 13.Qe1
bxa2 (13...c6 14.Bd2) 14.Qxa5 and Rxa2 is known trick.]

13.c3 bxc3 14.bxc3 Bb6 15.Bg5 I thought for 40 minutes and came up with the following forced sequence.
15...h6 Nh5 was threatened. 16.Bh4 Bg4 [16...g5 fails to 17.Nxg5 hxg5 18.Bxg5 and Nh5] 17.h3 Bxf3
18.Qxf3 # Again threatening Nh5. 18...g5 19.Nf5 gxh4 20.Nxh6+ Kh8 # How to continue the attack? [ND:
20...Kh7 removes the possiblity of ...Nh7 21.Nf5] 21.Kh1!! Diagram

ND: White has only a pawn for the exchange, but it's hard to see what Black can do. Kh1 prepares f4
[21.Nxf7+ Rxf7 22.Bxf7 Qe7 followed by bringing pieces to the kingside] 21...Nc6 22.a5 Bc5 23.Qf5
White has only a pawn for the exchange, but it's difficult for Black to reorganize. 23...Nh7 [23...Ne7
24.Qxf6+] 24.Nxf7+ Now White captures on f7 in more favorable circumstances. The queen is better-placed
on f7 than the bishop.

24...Rxf7 25.Qxf7 ND: At this point I expected to win quickly, especially in my opponent's time pressure.
But here he started to put up strong resistance. 25...Qe7 26.Qh5 [26.Qd5 Qe8 (or 26...Qd7 are fine for
Black) ; 26.Qxe7 Nxe7 27.Rab1 and White should be winning easily - the rook comes to the 7th]

26...Rf8 27.f4 Qf6! ND: A good defensive move which stops the immediate attack on the f-file. 28.Bc4
targeting the a-pawn [28.fxe5?? Qxf1+ 29.Rxf1 Rxf1+ 30.Kh2 Bg1+ 31.Kh1 Bf2+ 32.Kh2 Bg3#] 28...Ne7!
with the idea ...Ng6-f4 29.f5 Be3? ND: Playing for an attack, but he mustn't give up the a-pawn. [29...Ra8
was necessary.] 30.Bxa6 Rg8 31.Bc4 d5 Black has to go for broke in view of the advancing a-pawn.
32.Bxd5 Nxd5 33.exd5 Qg7 34.Qf3 Nf6 35.a6 [35.Qxe3?? Qxg2#] 35...Qg5 36.a7 Nh5 37.a8Q Ng3+
38.Kh2 [ND: I could have played 38.Qxg3 as well.] 38...Nxf1+ 39.Qxf1 Qg3+ 40.Kh1 Bf4 41.Qg1 Rxa8
42.Rxa8+ Kg7 43.d6! Be3 44.f6+ Kf7 45.Qd1 1-0

Kraai,J (2452) - Kamsky,G (2717) [B11]
US Championships San Diego, California USA (1), 24.11.2004

1.e4 c6 2.Nc3 d5 3.Nf3 Bg4 4.h3 Bxf3 5.Qxf3 e6 6.d4 Nf6 7.Bd3 dxe4 8.Nxe4 Nxe4 Kraai assumed that
Kamsky would not risk taking the pawn. 9.Qxe4 Nd7 10.c3 Nf6 11.Qe2 Qd5 12.0-0 Bd6 13.Re1 White is
somewhat better. 13...0-0 14.Bc4 Qa5 15.Bd2 Rfe8 16.Rad1 Rad8 Krai mentioned that both of Black's
natural pawn breaks ...c5 and ...e5 open the position for the bishops.

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17.Bc1 Qh5 Remarkably, Kamsky is willing to go into a clearly worse endgame based upon his confidence
in his technical abilities and lead on the clock. 18.Qf1 To redeploy his bishop to f3. Kraai said that he didn't
think that Black had any positive plan.

18...a6 19.a3 Bb8 20.Be2 Qa5 21.Bf3 From now until almost the end of the game, cat-and-mouse
maneuvering commences and neither side wishes to commit. 21...h6 22.g3 Rd7 23.Qd3 Red8 24.Qc2 Bd6
25.Kg2 Qc7 26.Qe2 Re8 27.Qc2 Rde7 28.Qd3 Qa5 29.Qc2 Bb8 30.Re2 Nh7 31.h4 A move that White
may want to play anyway, in order to attack via g4-g5, but it also stops ...Ng5.

31...Nf6 32.Ree1 Nd7 Black was better off simply returning his rooks to the d-file. 33.c4 Now this is strong
due to the passive position of Black's pieces. 33...Nf6 34.Rh1 Nd7 35.Bd2 Qc7 36.Bb4 c5 37.dxc5 Nxc5
Game drawn [Kamsky suggested that 37...Nxc5 38.Bxc5 Qxc5 39.b4 followed by c5 was a good way to
play.] 1/2-1/2

Fishbein,A (2505) - Battsetseg,T (2243) [A37]
US Championships San Diego, California USA (1), 24.11.2004

1.Nf3 g6 2.c4 Bg7 3.Nc3 c5 4.g3 Nc6 5.Bg2 d6 6.a3 h5!? An enterprising move. 7.h3 AF: After Black's
move, I thought her plan was ...Nh6-f5. My move, taking away g4 from Black's pieces, is directed against
this. 7...Nd4 [7...Nh6 8.e4 prevents ...Nf5.] 8.d3 Nh6 9.e4 a6 AF: A wasted move since Black can't achieve
...b5. 10.Bg5 f6 11.Be3 Nxf3+ 12.Bxf3 e5 [AF: Better was 12...Nf7 13.d4 cxd4 14.Bxd4 Ne5] 13.b4 b6
14.Rb1 Nf7 15.h4 Diagram

AF: I felt that White's position was close to strategically winning. 15...Be6 16.0-0 [AF: 16.Ke2 ] 16...g5
17.hxg5 fxg5 [AF: 17...h4 ] 18.Bxh5 Ra7 19.bxc5 dxc5 20.Nd5 Bxd5 21.cxd5 Kf8 22.Kg2 Nd6 23.Qf3+
AF: ...Nf7 would only delay the inevitable. 23...Kg8 24.Bg4 Bf6 25.Be6+ Kg7 26.Rh1 Rxh1 27.Rxh1 Qe8
28.Qg4 Qg6 29.Rh5 Nf7 30.Bf5 Nh6 31.Bxg6 Nxg4 32.Rh7+ 1-0

Ross,L (2117) - Gurevich,D (2499) [B35]
US Championships San Diego, California USA (1), 24.11.2004

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6 DG: I normally play [5...d6 , but I decided to sidestep
preparation.] 6.Bc4 [6.Nxc6 bxc6 7.e5 Nd5? (7...Ng8 or; 7...Nh5 have to be played.) 8.Nxd5 cxd5 9.Qxd5
Rb8 10.e6! fxe6 11.Qe5] 6...Bg7 7.Be3 0-0 8.Bb3 d6 9.h3 DG: A perfectly good set-up. 9...Na5 10.0-0 b6
DG: Along the lines of Anand-Kasparov, Linares 2003, a game that I was unfamiliar. 11.Qd3 Bb7 12.Rad1
Nxb3 13.axb3 Nd7 Played after a long think to create a double-edged position.

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14.Bg5 Nc5 15.Qe3 [15.Qe2? Bxd4 16.Rxd4 Ne6] 15...Qd7 16.Nd5 Rae8 17.c4 Praised by Dmitry after the
game. 17...Nxe4 18.Qxe4 e6 19.Qg4 [DG: I expected 19.Nxb6 Now I get the useful move ...f5 in for free.]
19...f5 20.Nxb6 axb6 21.Qh4 e5 22.Ne2 f4 23.Nc3 Rf5 24.g4 fxg3 25.fxg3 Diagram

25...Rxg5! This exchange sacrifice decides the game. 26.Qxg5 Qxh3 27.Nd5 Bxd5 28.cxd5 Bh6 29.Qh4
Be3+ 30.Rf2 Qxh4 31.gxh4 Rf8 Black wins 0-1

11.24.04 –

blogger: IM ben finegold

Hi Bloggers! I was fortunate today against Matt "Guitar" Hoekstra. In a position where Matthew was
slightly better, he gave me his "a" pawn thinking I would not take it...after some silly time pressure errors,
hanging a piece was the last straw. My wife and I are really enjoying San Diego, and have found some very
nice restauarnts and shopping, as well as nice weather. The tournament is a lot of fun, and I hope to have
more good news for my fans in the next post! ....A shout out to Spencer and Erum! Daddy's trying to
become Champ!....BPF

blogger: WGM anna zatonskih

Hi everybody! Today I won with the black pieces against the reigning US champion! Of course I'm very
happy with my result. Before the game I was thinking I would be happy with a draw. I had black and against
a strong opponent. I had a slightly worse position out of the opening. Alexander was attacking and had about
20 minutes left when he blundered. I organized a counter-attack and got the advantage. Then he sacrificed
pieces trying for a perpetual check draw. Maybe he could play the endgame a little better, I don't know.

By the way, it's the first time I've ever beaten an opponent rated over 2600! I got a couple draws, but this is
the first win. I want to say thanks to everyone for watching the games. Hello to Ashley and Eileen and
everyone out there.

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blogger: GM joel benjamin

I hallucinated so many times today I should be drug tested! *%^$!%$&#!

blogger: IM Renier "ninguno" Gonzalez

There is nice weather in San Diego, so come to watch the gamesin person if
possible. I had an easy game today, but I am sure everything is going to be
different tomorrow :0.

I am impressed with the organization we are having in this tournament and also
with the players' level. I will try to do my best and why not get my second GM
norm? I heartily recommend to you to follow this excellent tournament and also
the games.

blogger: Chouchanik "shushan" airapetian

Well, I just played my worst game ever. Maybe the worst game in US championship history! Of course
every beginner knows this trick and I saw it a few moves ahead. And I was thinking not to make this mistake
and then I did it anyway. It won't be embarrassing to tell my chess students because it shows it can happen
to anyone if you are nervous. It is just that it is so bad to start your championship without a game. At least
we have beautiful sun outside. It's hard to believe anyone can be sad. Except me!

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A good attitude about a tough loss.

round one pairings and results

Bd White Res Black
1 IM Jesse Kraai ½ GM Gata Kamsky
2 GM Gregory Kaidanov 1-0 FM Tegshsuren Enkhbat
3 IM Irina Krush 0-1 GM Alexander Goldin
4 GM Boris Gulko 1-0 FM Marcel Martinez
5 FM Joshua Friedel 0-1 GM Igor Novikov
6 GM Alexander Shabalov 0-1 WGM Anna Zatonskih
7 FM Lev Milman 0-1 GM Alexander Onischuk
8 GM Hikaru Nakamura 1-0 FM Stephen Muhammad
9 GM Anatoly Lein 0-1 GM Ildar Ibragimov
10 GM Varuzhan Akobian 1-0 IM Ron Burnett
11 FM Dmitry Zilberstein ½ GM Alex Yermolinsky
12 GM Alex Stripunsky 1-0 Salijus Bercys
13 FM Bruci Lopez ½ GM Alexander Ivanov
14 GM Nick DeFirmian 1-0 IM Blas Lugo
15 FM Matt Hoekstra 0-1 IM Ben Finegold
16 GM Joel Benjamin ½ FM Robby Adamson
17 WGM Rusudan Goletiani 0-1 GM Larry Christiansen
18 GM Sergey Kudrin 1-0 WIM Jennifer Shahade
19 FM Fabio La Rota ½ GM Gregory Serper
20 GM Aleks Wojtkiewicz 1-0 FM Michael Casella
21 Jake Kleiman 0-1 GM Yury Shulman
22 GM Julio Becerra 1-0 WFM Tatev Abrahamyan
23 WIM Anna Hahn ½ IM Eugene Perelshteyn
24 GM Alexander Fishbein 1-0 WIM Tsagaan Battsetseg
25 WFM Laura Ross 0-1 GM Dmitry Gurevich
26 IM Levon Altounian ½ WIM Esther Epstein

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2005 US Chess Championship

27 WFM Olga Sagalchik 0-1 IM Cyrus Lakdawala
28 IM Renier Gonzalez 1-0 Chouchanik Airapetian
29 Vanessa West 0-1 IM Yury Lapshun
30 GM Walter Browne 1-0 WFM Anna Levina
31 Iryna Zenyuk 0-1 IM Stanislav Kriventsov
32 IM Dmitry Schneider 1-0 Tatiana Vayserberg

day 0: opening reception and player meeting

11.23.04 – Suddenly the best chessplayers in America have appeared in San Diego. Tuesday afternoon was
the reception for the players and then the meeting with the arbiters to discuss rules and regulations, as well
as answering any questions. In between there was also the drawing of lots to decide the distribution of colors
in the first round.

Over the years just about every method you can imagine (and some you can't) has been used to draw for
colors. We've seen fashion models, gold bars, and martini glasses, to name a few. But we'd never seen it
done with a bone before tonight! A wishbone, that is, a turkey wishbone to be precise!

Jennifer Shahade and Alexander Shabalov with a bone to pick.

The venerable tradition of pulling a wishbone was employed to decide who would have white in the first
round. Defending champions Shabalov and Shahade were brought up to perform the pull in keeping with
this tournament's Thanksgiving theme. If you're wondering where the wishbone came from, rest assured that
they aren't standard issue chess arbiter equipment. The chefs of the Hilton Torrey Pines provided the largest
one they could find in the kitchen!

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It turned into quite a tussle as the players wrestled with the wishbone. Eventually it
came apart with Alexander Shabalov holding the largest piece. We're not sure what
he wished for, but we imagine it had something to do with another $25,000 first
prize! That was just the first step, however. The winner then had to pick one of the
many posters of famous chess scenes from films that were displayed around the
hall.

Each poster had a "W" or "B" on the back. Shabba selected this scene of Lucy Liu
playing chess in the movie Charlie's Angels. It had a "B" on the back, so first
board Gata Kamsky will play with black in the first round, as will the higher-rated
player on each odd-numbered board.

After that there was a break and then all the players came together in the playing hall to discuss the rules and
regulations with chief arbiter Carol Jarecki and her staff.

Could you write down your move before you made it? (No.) Were all the pairings done by computer? (Yes,
but the arbiters reserve discretion to make changes as they see fit.) How could the players without internet
connections and who weren't staying at the hotel find out the pairings each night? ( San Diego Chess Club
president Ron Rezendes kindly (or foolishly!) volunteered his telephone number so players could call him
for the pairings at night if necessary. Thanks, Ron!

It was also made crystal clear that cell phones were not to be brought into the playing hall at all. Jarecki
suggested that "you can leave your cell phone with your wife or girlfriend." (What about the 15 women
players, Carol!?) She had to correct herself when GM Alexander Ivanov pointed out that his wife Esther
Epstein is also playing in the Championship! The other married couple in the field is Tegshsuren Enkhbat
and Battsetseg Tsagaan of Maryland.

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2005 US Chess Championship

Kaidanov, Zilberstein, Kamsky, Shabalov, Lein, Perelshteyn

Earlier the players had gathered to sign 100 chess boards. With 64 players in the Championship that's one
autograph per square, and each player had their assigned square. (We noted a few mistakes, but won't name
names.) These amazing treasures will used by the AF4C for fundraising.

AF4C president and founder Erik Anderson addressed the players and
VIPguests at the reception. He spoke about the success the organization
has had in raising money to bring chess to thousands of schoolkids via
their innovative First Move program. "This isn't after school, we're
bringing chess into the classroom every week."

The move of the Championships to San Diego is a key part of replicating
the success the AF4C has had in Washington in California. Having a
chess-friendly governor in Arnold Schwarzenegger will certainly help. The
Governator himself sent a letter of support to the event.

Referring to his recent conversations with ZMD CEO Thilo von Selchow,
Anderson said "talking with me about chess is a bad idea because it always
ends up costing you money!" ZMD, which is already active in chess and
has worked with Garry Kasparov, was quickly signed on to support the US Championships.

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2005 US Chess Championship

Next at the mic was the NTC Foundation executive director Alan Ziter. He
brings an evangelical zeal to the promotion of the San Diego area. By the
time he was finished you could believe half the people in the room were
ready to pack up their possessions and move to San Diego!

San Diego, self-titled "America's Finest City," is making good on such
claims with their energetic pursuit of cultural and sporting showcases like
the 2005 US Chessmaster Championships. San Diego has also hosted the
Super Bowl and the baseball All-Star game.

The NTC Promenade will be the site of the next Championships in 2006.
The center will be home to hundreds of non-profit organizations offering
enriching and interactive experiences for visitors and residents.

Playing Defense

The reigning US champions are in San Diego to defend their titles. Alexander Shabalov and Jennifer
Shahade will again be among the hot favorites. However, the competition has become stronger for both
defending champs.

New competitors for the overall title include former FIDE world championship challenger (and 1991 US
champ) Gata Kamsky, fresh out of retirement, and recent Ukrainian immigrant Alexander Onischuk, who
led the US men's Olympiad team last month. And teen sensation Hikaru Nakamura has become an
international star in the past year. The women's side has a strong new player as a second seed. Anna
Zatonskih, also formerly of Ukraine, was Shahade's teammate in the Olympiad.

"Shabba" shared first place in 1993 and won clear first last year in Seattle to become the 2003-4 champion.
Shahade first won the women's title in 2002 and just a few months ago won the 2004 event. She looked on
course to win in 2003 as well but was upset in a rapid playoff for the title by Anna Hahn.

There hasn't been a repeat men's champion since Lev Alburt did it in 1984-85. Anjelina Belakovskia was the
last to repeat as women's champ, in 1995-96.

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