"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."
Nakamura played the Petrosian-like 19…Bf8 and clipped the c5-pawn with 20…Bxc5. He then bore a hole in Kaidanov's position and simplified into a better endgame. When looking at the game, the queen's black steed stands out. It made a "knights tour" as it gallops throughout the board (moving 20 times and touching 18 different squares) while reeking havoc. It finally sacrificed itself so the lowly pawn can make safe passage to the queening square. Kaidanov had seen enough and resigned.
The "Cuban Mafia" continues to impress as Julio Becerra, Renier Gonzalez and Blas Lugo are on 4½-2½. Both Gonzalez and Lugo have chances for a GM norm. In a fit of luck (or by a bit of help), none of the Cuban players have had to play each other! It would really be interesting to see if that can last through the last two rounds. In a strange occurrence, ?Varuzhan Akobian was awarded a forfeit win when Dmitri Schneider's cellular phone rang during the game. Thirty-three moves had been played and Akobian held the advantage. Schneider stated…
"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."
In other action, the female players have not fared well and are mired at the bottom of the field. Only Anna Zatonskih, Rusudan Goletiani and Irina Krush have managed even scores. Nevertheless, it is a very tough field and by Walter Browne's account(6-time champion), the strongest U.S. Championship in history! With the increasing diversity of players and the dynamic format, it's only a matter of time before we have more "cinderella" stories such as the Cubans and Jennifer Shahade's performance in 2002.