2005 US Chess Championship

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

Suing for Peace

This round of chess was relatively quiet as 11 of the top 16 boards were drawn. Despite this fact, only Wojtkiewicz-Gulko was played without any inspiration. In this late round, there were a lot of norms on the line and thus, a couple of upsets. 

Salvijus Bercys outplayed defending champion Alexander Shabalov in a complicated Tarrasch which featured a vicious attack by the young 15-year old. While looking at the game, one would think the colors were reversed! Commanding the white pieces, Bercys put pieces in menacing positions including a rook which was planted on f6 for several moves. In a tactical skirmish, each side kept trying to sacrifice the exchange for control of the dark squares. Perhaps Shabalov became too obsessed with this idea and ended up losing a piece for little compensation.  Bercys, the tournament's wild-card winner, played with incredible poise in the endgame and has already won an  IM norm with a round to play.

Renier Gonzalez continues his inspired play by holding his second super-GM in Alexander Onischuk. His compatriot Blas Lugo had an early dinner as he basically gave a point away with a ridiculous queen sacrifice… his GM norm hopes were dashed in 16 moves. (Note: The main website reports that Lugo had planned 6…Bxc3+ against 6.d3, but Ibragimov played 6.b4 and Lugo merely had a hallucination.) Marcel Martinez crushed Senior Open champ Fabio LaRota with a dazzling display of tactics. He needs only a draw to earn an IM norm. In addition, Julio Becerra should be considered for the "Bent Larsen" award for the best "fighting spirit." The "Cuban Mafia" have definitely represented!


In the second half of the field, points continue to pile up… only four of the 16 games were drawn.  In the first eight rounds, 128 games were played on boards 17-32… 101 of them were decisive for an amazing 79% score! In addition, there have been few short draws in the tournament. Boris Gulko has been involved in the highest percentage of draws ending in under 25 moves with Aleksander Wojtkiewicz in second place for that dubious distinction.  Besides that, the games have been hard fought and exciting.

This has been by far the most exciting U.S. Championship in decades. The decisive results in the bottom half is indicative of a system that works without imposing fines for short draws.  The presence of Hikaura Nakamura, the Cuban contingent and the variety of players present means that there is less room for backroom deals and pre-arranged draws as is common in American Open tournaments. Combined with
Maurice Ashley's "no draw" theme tournaments, this may usher in a new era for U.S. chess.

The inspired play by many of the entrants, many of whom took a different route to get to this tournament, shows that each person has to fight harder for their honor to be here. In the old days, there was no incentive to fight because players knew they'd be able to play next year and the year after that. The U.S. Championship lost its novelty and some titles were decided with the winner drawing 10/14 games.  It appears that this tournament has regained its luster and represents a real U.S. Championship!

Round #8 Information Center

Selected Games

Salvijus Bercys  - Alexander Shabalov, 1-0
IM Renier Gonzalez - GM Alexander Onischuk, ½-½
FM Fabio LaRota -  FM Marcel Martinez, 1-0
FM Enkhbat Tegshuren - FM Stephen Muhammad, 0-1
WFM Tatev Abrahamyan - WIM Anna Hahn, 1-0

PGN download (all 32 games)

The Chess Drum

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