Nakamura Wins US Chess Championship

by E. "Doc" Smith on December 13, 2004

Hot-shot favourite Hikaru Nakamura, the teenage ace from White Plains, NY, beat Alexander Stripunsky for the championship title and the $25,000 prize. He is now the youngest winner of the 159-year-old title since Bobby Fischer. Although he had broken every Fischer age record in the U.S., he failed in one. Fischer won the US title at the age of 14 in 1957. Nakamura holds the record for being the youngest American Grandmaster ever. He earned his title in February 2003 at the age of 15 years 2 months, eclipsing the record set in 1958 by Bobby Fischer, who went on to become World Champion.

Dmitry Zilberstein, who has been playing at the Mechanics’ since he was a kid, made an IM norm with 4 from 9, against a very strong field which included 7 GMs. His win over Alexander Ivanov, featured in the last Newsletter, took one of the Best Game prizes. Mechanics’ GM-in-Residence Alex Yermolinsky led the Bay Area crowd, tying for ninth with 5.5. Six-time US Champion Walter Browne played lots of fighting chess and ended up on 4.5.

Congratulations go to Hikaru Nakamura and Rusa Goletiani. Also serving special recognition are GM Alex Stripunsky and WGM Anna Zatonskih. Stripunsky, did everything but win the US Championship and continues to improve in his thirties. GM Golubev had this to say about him in Chess Today, ” Alex came to the USA from Kharkov, the second largest town in Ukraine. He is one of the pupils of the famous Kharkov coach, Alexander Vaisman. The main traits of his approach to chess, perhaps, are logic and self-confidence. Stripunsky, born 18 August 1970 belongs to ‘Ivanchuk’s generation’ of Ukrainian players.” Zatonskih easily played the toughest field of any of the female participants in La Jolla and had wins over GMs Shabalov and Browne, but ran out of steam at the end, losing her last three games.

The official website, has a huge amount of information on it including all of the games, two of which are annotated per round.

The following press release comes from John Henderson, press-officer of the 2005 US chess championships:

“The final day of this year’s “Super Bowl of Chess” turned out to be a nail biter. Both the overall champion and women’s champion were decided in playoff games on the last day of competition. The final day of competition was a fight to the finish for the share of the $253,000 prize money and the prestigious title of best player in the U.S.

On the women’s side, Rusudan “Rusa” Goletiani, 24, from Hartsdale, NY, beat Tatev Abrahamyan, 16, from Glendale, CA to claim the $12,500 women’s prize.

If chess is the “game of kings,” these winning players are the new royalty. The newest U.S King and Queen of chess were crowned and awarded their prize money in a special ceremony. Erik Anderson, Founder of the America’s Foundation for Chess, will present the championship trophies, a Swarovski Crystal Chess set, to the Overall Champion and the Women’s Champion.

The Championship was visited by over 63,000 people who viewed over 2.2 millions pages over the Internet at The U.S. Chess Championship was presented in San Diego for the first time by America’s Foundation for Chess and NTC Foundation. The new home for the championship will be at NTC Promenade, beginning in February 2006.”

White Nakamura, H.
Black Stripunsky, A.
Result 1-0

1 e4 c5
2 Nf3 e6
3 d4 cxd4
4 Nxd4 a6
5 Bd3 Bc5
6 Nb3 Ba7
7 O-O Nc6
8 Nc3 d6
9 Qe2 Nge7
10 Be3 b5
11 Bxa7 Rxa7
12 Qe3 O-O
13 a4 b4
14 Ne2 Rd7
15 a5 Bb7
16 Rfc1 Qa8
17 Ra4 e5
18 Nd2 f5
19 Nc4 Qe8
20 Nb6 Rd8
21 f3 Kh8
22 Bc4 Qg6
23 Nd5 Nxd5
24 Bxd5 fxe4
25 Qxe4 Qe8
26 c4 Nd4
27 Rxb4 Bxd5
28 cxd5 Rc8
29 Rc3 Rb8
30 Rxb8 Qxb8
31 Nxd4 exd4
32 Qxd4 Qxb2
33 Rd3 Qb5
34 Qc3 h6
35 Rd4 Qb1+
36 Kf2 Re8
37 Re4 Rb8
38 Kg3 Qb7
39 Qc6 Qxc6
40 dxc6 Rc8
41 Rb4 Kg8
42 Rb6 Kf7
43 Rxa6 Ke6
44 Rb6 Kd5
45 a6 Kc5
46 Rb1 Rc7
47 Kf4 d5
48 Ra1

Special thanks to John Donaldson for his reporting of this event.

E. “Doc” Smith is a former Rhode Island Amateur Champion, and has won divisional titles in the U.S. Amateur Team Championships for Brown University as well as the Rhode Island Chess League Championships. He has also taught chess to kids in S.F. schools, where he has directed several successful citywide tournaments.

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